Policy, Ethics and Life Sciences Research Centre

Project Items

IDARTSS (Interdisciplinary Approaches to the Uses of Reproductive Tissue in Stem Cell Science).


This project has two aims:

  1. To facilitate interdisciplinary debate on the ethical, legal and social aspects of the use of reproductive tissue in stem cell science and regenerative medicine.
  2. To encourage international dialogue to identify best policy and practice.

It was developed by Erica Haimes (Principal Investigator) during 2009 with the assistance of funding from the William Leech Charitable Trust.

Human reproductive tissue is used for a variety of scientific purposes, but its use has been central to socio-ethical debate on whether this undermines moral attitudes toward human life in general.

More recently additional questions have arisen around the ways in which scientists acquire reproductive tissue and around the interests of those who provide it.

In order to sharpen existing analyses it is important that these concerns are brought together.

Dr Ilke Turkmendag, who completed her PhD in Law and Sociology at Nottingham University, was appointed as Research Associate on this project in January 2010.

The team is assisted by a Steering Committee from Newcastle and Durham Universities from theology, law, ethics, embryology, stem cell science, plus the internationally renowned ethicist, Christoph Rehmann-Sutter, until recently Chair of the Swiss Bioethics Commission.

The IDARTSS project also contributes to, and makes use of, the PARTS (Provision and Acquisition of Reproductive Tissue in Science) International Research Network.

Project Updates

Download the 2010-2012 project updates (PDF: 247 KB).

Paper and seminar presentations

15 June 2010 - Ilke was invited to University of York, SATSU as a seminar speaker, ‘Providing and Acquiring Human Reproductive Tissue for Stem Cell Science: Socio-ethical Issues from an Interdisciplinary Perspective’

2 September 2010 - Ilke presented a paper at the Medical Sociology Conference, Durham ‘Providing and Acquiring Human Reproductive Tissue for Stem Cell Science: Scrutinising the Socio-Ethical Issues’

7 April 2011 - Ilke presented a paper at the British Sociology Association Annual Conference, London ‘Rescuing the Egg: Characterization of Human Eggs in Stem Cell Science’ 

16 September 2011 - Erica presented a paper, co-authored with Ilke and Ken at the European Association of Centres of Medical Ethics (EACME) 25th Annual Conference, Istanbul, ‘Bioethics from a Cross-Cultural Perspective’, ‘Women's views and experiences of an egg sharing for research scheme: does local practice have global implications?’

Ilke was a participant in the ‘Ethics of Family in Health and Social Care Research’ Consortium workshop in Uppsala, Sweden

January 2012 - Erica, Ilke and Ken submitted responses to the Nuffield Council of Bioethics Call for Evidence on ‘Emerging techniques to prevent inherited mitochondrial disorders: ethical issues’, with other PEALS colleagues

29 September 2012 - Ilke has been invited to give a talk at the Bioethics Study Day, North Eastern Association of Women Graduates, Centre for Life, Newcastle, to talk about the ethical issues around mitochondria research

June 26-29 2012 - Erica presented ‘Is it more ethically challenging to provide human embryos or human eggs for stem cell research?’ as one of the speakers at the PARTS symposium ‘Ethical challenges in the uses of human reproductive tissue in scientific research’ within the World Congress of the International Association of Bioethics, Rotterdam