Human Embryonic Stem Cells in France : Bioethics law and Dynamics of Research Networks
GEMAS - MSH CENTRE NATIONAL DE LA RECHERCHE SCIENTIFIQUE (CNRS) Paris Cedex 06, France
Since the bioethics law of 2004, the french research on Human Embryonic Stem Cells (hESC) has a derogatory status. That law gave to the french researchers a five year authorisation in order to demonstrate to the members of the French biomedical Agency - l' Agence de la Biomédecine (ABM) - the usefulness of their research strategy and their potential therapeutical outcomes.
The comparative study of scientific networks shows that a significant part of potentially interested researchers consider the entry in the hESC domain as too risky.
The temporal constraint previously mentioned is not the only problem. The hESC domain is strictly regulated in terms of scale (limited numbers of researchers ), orientations of research (only short term therapeutics orientations are allowed) and global cohesion. Paradoxically, if hESC are the paradigmatic form of genericity, the research domain is divided in « organ-oriented » subgroups with low levels of interaction between them.
The first objective of this paper will be to give an accurate description of the consequences of ABM's action on the dynamics of hESC scientific networks in France. What are the structural outcomes of the regulative process associated with ABM ? What are the main forms of interaction between the organisational agenda of ABM and individuals research strategies ? The second objective will be to analyze the current state of the reform of the bioethics law of 2004. This reform has been recently postponed to 2010. What can be expected from this reform ? Who are the individual and collective actors of the reform ? What will be the consequences of their action on the dynamics of research networks ? These are just some of the questions we will try to answer from a sociological point of view.