CIHR salutes outgoing Chair of the Stem Cell Oversight Committee

(2017-01-15)

CIHR would like to thank the outgoing Chair of the Stem Cell Oversight Committee (SCOC), Dr. Jay Baltz, for his seven years of outstanding service. Dr. Baltz was recruited as a member in 2010, and assumed leadership of SCOC in January 2013.

Much has changed since CIHR announced its Guidelines for Human Pluripotent Stem Cell Research, in March 2002. At that time, there was little guidance – in Canada or abroad – on the responsible conduct of stem cell research. Following the launch of the Guidelines, SCOC was assembled in 2003 to ensure that research applications conformed to these new standards, and to ensure that the Guidelines themselves remained relevant in this rapidly evolving area of science.

Since the creation of the Canadian guidelines, many other countries and research organizations have implemented guidance for the stem cell research community. Further, the discovery of human induced pluripotent stem cells has influenced the way scientists worldwide study stem cells. While the use of human embryonic stem cells is still considered the gold standard for research on pluripotency and differentiation, the debate has also shifted to the clinical use of such stem cells. Dr. Baltz has infused the debate with his valued insights and encouraged this important national conversation.

Over the years, SCOC has continued to review its processes to improve its responsiveness. Under the leadership of Dr. Baltz, the Committee met frequently and resolved applications efficiently, without sacrificing the quality of its review function. By reviewing applications, enhancing policies, and assisting researchers with their applications, SCOC provides reassurance to both the scientific community and to the public that Canadian stem cell research meets the highest standards of ethics.

As Chair of SCOC, Dr. Baltz also played a significant role in the integration of the Guidelines for Human Pluripotent Stem Cell Research into the Tri-Council Policy Statement: Ethical Conduct for Research Involving Humans (TCPS 2), in December 2014, by sharing SCOC's experiences and serving as an ex-officio member of the Interagency Advisory Panel on Research Ethics.

As we express our gratitude to Dr. Baltz for his diligent service, we also take this opportunity to welcome Dr. Bernard Thébaud, whose appointment as Chair of SCOC began January 1, 2017. Dr. Thébaud, a neonatologist with the Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario and a Senior Scientist at the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute, is one of Canada's leading researchers in the area of developing cell-based therapies for lung diseases. Dr. Thébaud's expertise in this field will be of great benefit to SCOC and we look forward to the insights and perspectives that he will bring to the Committee's work.

Past Chairs:

  • Michael Enzle (2003–2007)
  • A/Sylvie Langlois (2006–2007)
  • John Williams (2007–2012)
  • Jay Baltz (2013–2016)
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