Cords of Collaboration: Exploring Political, Clinical, Private, and Third-Sector Interests within the Emerging British Umbilical Cord Stem Cell Bioeconomy

Saturday, July 19, 2014: 10:10 AM
Room: F206
Distributed Paper
Rosalind WILLIAMS , University of York, York, United Kingdom
The paper illustrates how attempts are being made to redress ethnicity-based social inequities in health through collaborative governance of umbilical cord stem cell banking. This technology has enjoyed a growth in popularity among clinicians delivering treatment to cancer patients, partly because it is believed that ethnic minorities are more likely to find a tissue match in umbilical cord stem cell biobanks than in extant bone marrow registries (Anthony Nolan Trust 2013). In response, clinical experts, third-sector charities and policy makers have sought to develop an infrastructure to increase the public collection of immunologically diverse umbilical cord stem cells (Brown et al 2011).

As such, we are witnessing the novel intersection of clinicians, charitable bodies, patient advocacy organisations and private enterprise. These stakeholders come together in parliamentary meetings to discuss barriers to development, produce policy documentation (APPSSCT 2012, UKSCSF 2010) and foster further dialogue.

As has been noted by Emerson et al (2012), such a model of collaborative governance can facilitate discussion between parties seemingly separated by impermeable boundaries of profession and politics. This paper explores the means through which expertise and interest are brought together toward opening policy discussion to a wider field of stakeholders. In this way, it is a case study of an emerging collaborative governance model that hopes to add to this burgeoning area of theoretical development.

The presented data, including interviews with stakeholders and observation of parliamentary meetings, also investigates the manner through which a recognised ethnicity-based health inequity can be strategically deployed for specifically professional, political or civic interests; that is, how socially charged notions of race and ethnicity can be mobilised toward potentially beneficent ends (St Louis 2010; Benjamin 2013). Finally, the paper also brings into relief the tenuous position of the “expert” within a widening forum of stakeholders.