On-site PhD conferral Ana Maria Pereira Daoud
Supervisors: Prof. dr. G.M.W.R. de Wert, Prof. dr. W.J. Dondorp, Prof. dr. A.L. Bredenoord (Erasmus University Rotterdam)
"Human embryos and the like- The Ethics and Policy of Research with 3D Human Embryo-Like Structures"
Keywords: Human Embryo-Like Structures; Ethics; Policy; Research
This project investigated whether the creation and use of ‘human embryo-like structures’ (hELS) in research could provide morally acceptable alternatives to the research use of ‘natural’ human embryos and, if so, under what conditions. The literature analysis and empirical research conducted to that end led to a positive evaluation of the ethical acceptability of research with hELS. To what extent and under what conditions, however, will depend on the structures in question: hELS are a diverse group of models, and not all research in this area is aimed at modeling the integrated development of an intact embryo. To the extent that it does, present-day models have only limited developmental potential. Their further improvement may lead to the creation of structures that cannot be distinguished from ‘natural’ embryos, however. While this may enhance the scientific utility of hELS, it also raises the question of whether and to what extent they should be treated differently from the embryos they are intended to replace. The project led to recommendations that have already found their way in contemporary policy debates, including in the context of the envisioned revision of the Dutch Embryos Act.