UK Stem Cell Bank and UK Stem Cell Bank Steering Committee - MRC

UK Stem Cell Bank

The UK Stem Cell Bank (UKSCB) was established in response to recommendations from the House of Lords Select Committee on Stem Cell Research. UKSCB is a single, national, independent institute responsible for managing and supplying ethically approved and quality controlled human embryonic stem cell (hESC) lines for research.

The establishment of the bank at the National Institute for Biological Standards and Control (NIBSC) was funded by the Medical Research Council (MRC) and Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council. MRC continued to fund UKSCB until 2021. Funding is now provided by the National Institute for Health Research.

UKSCB facilitates the use and sharing of quality-controlled stem cell lines to support scientific research and clinical development of stem cell therapies.

The work of UKSCB covers three main areas:

  • banking: acting as the sole public repository of all UK-derived hESC lines, holding over 180 stem cell lines and distributing research and clinical (EU Tissue and Cells Directives) grade lines
  • research: undertaking research to improve the standardisation, quality and safety of human pluripotent stem cell-based products. UKSCB collaborates with international partners to deliver projects supporting the development of stem cell therapies and developing World Health Organization reference materials for advanced therapies
  • regulation: being active in the UK regenerative medicine infrastructure, providing support and advice on international best practice, policies and guidelines relating to stem cell use and regulation around the world

UKSCB Steering Committee

The UKSCB Steering Committee was established in response to recommendations from the House of Lords Select Committee on Stem Cell Research. The committee for UKSCB, and for the use of stem cell lines, oversees the activities of UKSCB and the use of hESC lines in the UK.

The steering committee was established in December 2002 as an independent national committee overseeing the activities of UKSCB and UK research involving established hESC lines, whether obtained from the bank or from elsewhere. The role of the steering committee is to support stem cell research and to ensure that this is conducted within an ethical framework that is transparent to the public.

As of March 2023, the secretariat for the steering committee is provided by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) and is no longer hosted by MRC. However, it is still MRC’s expectation that researchers in receipt of MRC funding make use of UKSCB via the steering committee.

Records management

MRC acted as secretariat for the steering committee between January 2003 and February 2023, and as such held all data relating to the steering committee.

From March 2023, all records held for data subjects were transferred to the current secretariat at MHRA. Any data subject rights or any data protection related queries should be directed to MHRA.

MRC expectations

All MRC-funded scientists, including clinical researchers, are expected to follow guidance relating to good research practice and research integrity.

When working with hESC lines, it is considered best practice to use UKSCB where possible, in order to ensure that researchers are working with high quality, standardised cell lines.

All UK research involving the use of hESC lines is expected to comply with the UK code of practice for the use of human stem cell lines. This code provides guidance on best practice for those working with stem cell lines and specifies oversight mechanisms for research involving hESC lines.

UK-based researchers should seek approval from the UKSCB Steering Committee for a project of research involving hESC lines. This applies to hESC lines accessed from UKSCB, as well as those obtained from other sources, including overseas, and also applies to overseas researchers using hESC lines derived in the UK.

For further information on how to apply to use, import or export, and deposit hESCs lines, please visit the NIBSC website: apply for stem cell lines.

The ethical provenance of lines not currently registered for use in the UK will be reviewed at the time of deposit into the UKSCB (mandatory for UK hESC lines) or at the time of application to import the line into the UK for overseas lines.

Approved lines are listed in the UK stem cell line registry.

Contacts for more information

Queries related to the steering committee


Queries related to UKSCB


Last updated: 16 June 2023

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