Established in response to recommendations from the House of Lords Select Committee on Stem Cell Research, the Steering Committee for the UK Stem Cell Bank and for the Use of Stem Cell Lines oversees the activities of the UK Stem Cell Bank and the use of human embryonic stem cell lines in the UK.
UK Stem Cell Bank Steering Committee meetings in 2021 will be as follows:
- October 2021: closing date for applications 8 October 2021.
The steering committee was established in December 2002 as an independent national committee overseeing the activities of the UK Stem Cell Bank and UK research involving established human embryonic stem cell (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.
The steering committee is a non-statutory body that reports annually to MRC, works closely with the Department of Health, the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA), the Human Tissue Authority (HTA) and the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA).
Steering committee terms of reference:
- to develop and monitor implementation of a code of practice for the bank and for the use of stem cell lines
- to review on a case by case basis all applications to deposit and access embryonic stem cell lines
- to monitor all applications to deposit and access fetal and adult stem cell lines
- to ensure that strategies are in place to manage risk
- to address issues reported by the local management committee for the bank
- to consider issues identified by the user and clinical liaison committees
- to report at least annually to MRC
- to brief health and science ministers annually and advise them on request or as the need arises
- the steering committee also takes advice from other experts in specialist areas as necessary.
The membership of the steering committee includes expertise in science, medicine, ethics and theology as well as lay members and representatives from regulatory and funding agencies.
Membership of the Steering Committee for the UK Stem Cell Bank and for the Use of Stem Cell Lines
- Professor Rosamund Scott: Chair, Professor of Medical Law and Ethics, King’s College London
- Professor Malcolm Alison: Institute of Cell and Molecular Science, Queen Mary’s School of Medicine and Dentistry
- Dr Yen Choo: Executive Chairman, Plasticell Ltd
- Professor Steve Dunnett: Cardiff School of Biosciences, Cardiff University
- Professor Robin Gill: Professor of Applied Theology, University of Kent
- Professor Søren Holm: Professor of Bioethics, University of Manchester
- Professor Azim Surani: The Gurdon Institute, University of Cambridge
- Professor Andrew Webster: Director of the Science and Technology Studies Unit, University of York
- Mr David Scott: Lay member
- Ms Sarah Tozzi: Lay member
Observers representing health departments and regulatory agencies
- Laura Bunting: National Institute for Social Care and Health Research (NISCHR)
- Dr Jo Mountford: Scottish Executive Health Department
- Robert Watson: The Human Tissue Authority
- Ms Dina Halai: Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority
- Dr Jonathan Graves: Department of Health
Research council representatives
- Dr Rachel Knowles: Medical Research Council
- Dr Charlotte Durkin: Medical Research Council
- Dr Danielle Sagar: Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council
UK Code of Practice for the Use of Human Stem 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 (PDF, 502KB).
This code provides guidance on best practice for those working with stem cell lines and specifies oversight mechanisms for research involving human embryonic stem cell lines. This applies to hESC lines accessed from the UK Stem Cell Bank, as well as those obtained from other sources, including overseas.
Approval of human stem cell lines and their use in the UK
The Steering Committee for the UK Stem Cell Bank and for the Use of Stem Cell Lines must satisfy itself that hESC lines used in the UK:
- have been ethically sourced with appropriately informed donor consents,meeting UK standards of consent as a minimum
- are to be used for valuable and ethical research projects reflecting the requirements of the HFEA regulations.
The ethical provenance of lines not currently registered for use in the UK will be reviewed at the time of deposit into the UK Stem Cell Bank – 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 (PDF, 212KB).
UK Stem Cell Line Registry
The UK Stem Cell Line Registry (PDF, 212KB) lists hESC lines that have been approved by the steering committee for use in the UK, including importation.
However, whilst the individual lines have been approved for use in the UK, UK researchers wishing to use or import these cell lines must in addition apply to the steering committee for specific approval of their research project.
An increasing number of lines are being made available through the UK Stem Cell Bank. It is considered best practice to use the UK stem cell bank where possible, in order to ensure that researchers are working with high quality, standardised cell lines.
Applications to the steering committee
Applications will be considered for the following purposes:
- depositing new hESC lines into the UK Stem Cell Bank – no associated research project required
- importation of hESC lines into the UK for use in a research project
- export of UK-approved hESC lines overseas for use in a research project
- access to hESC lines from the UK Stem Cell Bank for use in a research project – application to access
- use of hESC lines from other UK sources in a research project application to use.
Deposit and export applications should take no longer than three months from the submission to decision. For other applications, the secretariat has delegated authority to fast-track decisions based on specific criteria set out in the UK Code of Practice for the Use of Human Stem Cell Lines (PDF, 502KB). In these circumstances and where all necessary information has been provided, approvals may be issued within a shorter time frame (less than a week). Where urgent approvals are required, please contact the secretariat to discuss your application prior to submission.
Contacts for more information
Administrator for the UK Stem Cell Bank Steering Committee
Secretariat, Medical Research Council
Polaris House, North Star Avenue
Swindon, SN2 1FL
Last updated: 24 September 2021