The BSCRF Egg Donor program was originally designed in 2001
by an Ethics Advisory Board chaired by Professor Ron Green, Dartmouth College
(Hastings Center Report, 2002). Since it was the first program in the world
to recruit women specifically for the purpose of providing eggs for stem
cell research, the Ethics Advisory Board critically examined every step of
the procedure in detail. The goal was to allow women to donate eggs for research
only if the process was deemed safe for them to undertake. To ensure the
independence of the egg donors, only women unknown to the researchers, who
answered a newspaper ad, were considered. The women undergo extensive psychological
and physical examinations and a mild hormone stimulation to avoid the hyperstimulation
syndromes associated with assisted reproduction attempts. They must be located
in the greater Boston area, or willing to live within the greater Boston
area for a period of at least two weeks. To date, approximately two dozen
women have donated eggs, with most willing to undergo more than one cycle
of egg collection. The women are compensated for effort, travel and childcare
The Egg Donor Program provides human eggs for research activities that fall within the Foundations guidelines for this program. In September, 2004, Foundation scientists conducted a limited set of research on human eggs with the goal of deriving stem cells from eggs not fertilized by sperm.
The Foundations ability to support research is entirely dependent upon available funding. When funds are available, the Foundations Scientific Committee will review applications for research projects and fund those deemed most meritorious. The review process follows the general guidelines of the National Institutes of Health peer review process.
BSCRF's goal is to advance the research as rapidly as possible under strict ethical oversight.