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Stem Cell Biology, Politics, and Ethics: Teasing Apart Issues by Amy McWhorter

Stem Cell Biology, Politics, and Ethics: Teasing Apart Issues

Molecular, Cell, and Developmental Biology 50

by Amy McWhorter

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The purpose of this course is twofold. The first is to present the developmental biology of stem cells in mice and primates, including humans, with an overview of the various types of stem cells that exist and an emphasis on embryonic stem cells. In addition to clarification of molecular techniques (e.g. SCNT), this overview will include important functional differences between embryonic and various somatic stem cells and differences in their biomedical potentials. The second purpose is to delve into the larger debate on human embryonic stem cell research while drawing connections to the established fields of bioethics, politics, and philosophy. The course will ground the issues by looking at the history of the debate over the embryo, with careful attention paid to the language used in arguments. An exploration of important social, ethical, political, and economic issues and how they arose with respect to the stem cell debate will round out the remainder of the course.

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