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Stem cell therapy: the good, the bad and the ugly

Examining the evidence of stem cell breakthroughs
An expert panel unravels the good, bad and ugly dimensions of stem cell research to inform and empower health consumers.

Stem cell research is a hot field of medical science but one that’s also prone to scandal and scientific fraud.

While blood stem cell transplants have been saving the lives of people with leukemia and other blood cancers for decades, hundreds of ‘clinics’ and websites across the world claim to offer proven stem cell therapies for a range of conditions in a mostly unregulated market. But there’s little evidence that these treatments work.

Further, these dubious therapeutic claims aren’t limited to dodgy websites preying on hopeful patients: dozens of scientists and prominent research bodies have been collared for scientific fraud by falsely claiming medical breakthroughs using stem science.

How should health consumers respond in the face of such promise and uncertainty? This event brings together a panel of experts to discuss. 

This event was held on Thursday 18 September at the University of Sydney.

The Speakers:

  • Professor John Rasko AO is a clinical hematologist, pathologist and scientist with a productive track record in gene and stem cell therapy, experimental haematology and molecular biology. He has contributed to over 150 publications and in 2009, he was instrumental in establishing the first Faculty Committee of the Faculty of Science, Royal College of Pathologists of Australasia. He is the recipient of national (RCPA, RACP, ASBMB) and international awards in recognition of his commitment to excellence in medical research, including appointment as an Officer of the Order of Australia.
  • Dr Wendy Lipworth is a bioethicist and health social scientist, and Associate Professor at Sydney Health Ethics at University of Sydney. She completed her medical degree at the University of New South Wales in 1999, and moved into academia in 2002. Dr Lipworth has since completed a MSc by research (Sydney University) on biobanking ethics; a PhD (Sydney University) on the ethics of journal peer review; and Postdoctoral and Career Development Fellowships on the ethics of emerging therapeutics.
  • Professor Ian Kerridge is an internationally recognised scholar in bioethics and the philosophy of medicine. From 2003 to 2015 he was Director of the Centre for Values, Ethics and the Law in Medicine (VELiM) at University of Sydney. He is currently Professor of Bioethics and Medicine at VELiM and Haematologist/Bone Marrow Transplant Physician at Royal North Shore Hospital, Sydney. He is also the Chair of the Australian Bone Marrow Donor Registry (ABMDR) Ethics Committee, board member of the Australasian Association of Bioethics and Health Law (AABHL) and a member of the NSW Clinical Ethics Advisory Group.

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