Cord blood banking: initial observations – Laura Machin

November 26, 2009

“Innovative health technologies: health systems in transition Workshop”

Supported by: Internet Interdisciplinary Institute (IN3)

Organized by: Francisco Lupiáñez-Villanueva (Internet Interdisciplinary Institute –UOC) and Michael Hardey (Hull/York Medical School – Science and Technology Studies Unit, Department of Sociology, University of York)

Data: 26th and 27th November

Place: UOC IN3 building. Av. Canal Olímpic, s/n. Edifici B3, 08860 Castelldefels (Barcelona)

Laura Machin’s presentation – Cord blood banking: initial observations

In recent years, the collection and storage of biological resources and data has commanded considerable attention in public policy debate and amongst social scientists interested in potentially new forms of regulatory, ethical and political economy. Much of this attention has focused upon public sector initiatives, such as UK Biobank and the UK Stem Cell Bank, but those less well researched are the emerging forms of commercial and private banking. In particular, are cord blood stem cell banks offering parents the possibility of paying to deposit cord blood stem cells taken at birth. Alongside commercial banks is the public sector banking, which emerged after the first cord blood stem cell transplant in 1988. Both instances raise questions around new forms of consumption, parental responsibility and the changing balances between public and commercial bioscience. In this presentation, I will introduce the aims and objectives of this 2-year project, titled ‘the political and moral economy of cord blood banking’, funded by the Economic and Social Research Council. I will also discuss cord blood banking in its current context and present some initial observations from the data collected during the past 10 months.

Laura Machin

Researcher at Science and Technology Studies Unit (SATSU), University of York. Currently working on the umbilical cord blood banking project and the social and ethical context of embryo donation (to other couples for fertility treatment or stem cell research). Generally, I am interested in the social, ethical, historical aspects of assisted conception techniques – specifically, the roles/notions of the patient/consumer/patient groups, the relationships between and within professions (sociology of professions / boundary-work) and the evolving notion of the family (sociology of the family). I am also keen to develop my policy interests in childbirth and maternity services, and infertility counselling.