Cultured red blood cells: Eliciting the views of potential users and wider publics
(University of Stirling)
Paper short abstract:
Paper long abstract:
The BloodPharma project is a multi-partner research project seeing to culture red blood cells (RBCs) in the laboratory. Such stem cell derived RBCs have the potential to reduce or eliminate the future need for blood donors. My paper draws on interviews and focus groups which have been carried out with the general public, patients, and interest groups, regarding the future introduction of laboratory grown RBCs. One in three people will receive a transfusion during their lifetime, meaning concepts of the 'stakeholder' are broadened in this case study.
The use of embryo and adult stem cells focused these public discussions on tissue use and responsible innovation. I will summarise findings from data collection as they relate to STIS concepts of 'cleanliness' (Douglas, Ball), and a distrust of the commercialisation of blood transfusion (Wynne).
The main focus of the paper will be on the difficulty of recruiting and engaging general publics in discussions around the development of this new technology, drawing on work by Harmon et al, Parry, and Pickersgill. In this case study such discussions can be seen as paradoxically too early in the research process, and too late. The difficulty of engaging the lay public in consultation requiring a level of scientific knowledge is pertinent to this case study, and to the wider discussion of stakeholder involvement in socio technological innovation. In this sense I will also reflect on my own role as a social scientist within an interdisciplinary team of scientific researchers.
Stakeholder involvement: An inclusive or exclusive practice?