Government Honors Thesis: Daniel Goan

Title:  Bio-Politics: The Stem Cell Debate In Comparative Perspective

Author: Daniel Goan


Stem cell research holds the promise of unlocking the future of regenerative medicine, at the same time it is also a major point of contention in global politics. The future of human embryonic stem cell research requires the use of stem cells harvested from fertilized human embryos for the development of novel treatments to a wide spectrum of human diseases. The use of these embryos is quite controversial, as the research often destroys or harms fertilized embryos, which in some religions is tantamount to murder.

The purpose of my thesis was to examine the relationships between global demographic trends and adopted national stem cell policies. Such a study is important in order to predict future stem cell policies. I conducted a large-N analysis using the 56 nations with currently promulgated stem cell policies and used that to create a typology classifying each nation as either liberal, permissive, restrictive or prohibitive towards human embryonic stem cell research. From this typology I went further in depth and conducted four individual case studies examining each category of my typology.

My researched shows that there are correlations between global demographic trends and the distribution of stem cell policy. This is especially evident with religious affiliation and education, but not as evident with political framework or age.