Abstract: Human embryonic stem cell research stagnated in the 2000s in Japan—a country otherwise most active in the area of medical bioscience. Then when, amid this stasis, a Japanese scientist discovered the precise set of genetic triggers that can convert adult human cells into an embryonic state, the perception took hold that it would be the tissue derived from this groundbreaking technology that is used domestically for developing therapeutics. In this talk I will rebut this perception. Relying on interviews and ministerial minutes, I will document how at the background of Shinya Yamanaka’s high-profile but slow-progressing project, the unilateral decision was made by the Japanese elite to authorize the clinical use of human embryonic stem cells. Highlighting how this move was underpinned by rhetoric about establishing a home-brand of therapeutics, I will conclude that positioning controversial science within the context of a broader program can be critical in overcoming stalemate.
In-person Venue: Suite 1 Seminar Area, Littlegate House, 16-17 St Ebbe’s Street, Oxford OX1 1PT (buzzer 1)
Zoom option available: email email@example.com for links