Stem Cell Counselors: New Partners in Communicating About Clinical Research
Christopher Thomas Scott, PhD
Stanford University School of Medicine
The translational push of stem cell discovery into the clinic has resulted in thousands of patients enrolling in stem cell trials and many more thousands of prospective participants inquiring about whether they are eligible for studies. There there is an urgent need for professionally trained staff to objectively explain the risks and benefits of stem cell therapies to prospective clinical trial subjects and their families. Trained stem cell counselors could help potential participants navigate among trials, explain therapeutic alternatives, and provide needed information about transplants offered outside the bounds of clinical research—commonly called stem cell tourism. Stem cell counselors would also work closely with patients participating clinical trials, and serve as a public resource for patient education and outreach efforts.
This talk describes how the advent of a new stem cell counselor discipline would support patients inquiring about stem cell clinical trials. A possible model is discussed, along with how trained counselors could address three major issues facing the stem cell field: 1) Accurate, current, and personalized information; 2) Guard against stem cell tourism; and 3) Bolster the process of informed consent. Finally, a candidate recruitment, curriculum, and certification scheme is offered.