"Canada’s Stem Cell Corporation:
Aggregate Concerns and the Question of Public Trust"

Matthew Herder and Jennifer Dyck Brian,

[Forthcoming in Journal of Business Ethics, 2007 ]


This paper examines one nascent entrepreneurial endeavour intended by Canada’s Stem Cell Network to catalyze the commercialization of stem cell research: the creation of a company called ‘‘Aggregate Therapeutics’’. We argue that this initiative, in its current configuration, is likely to result in a breach of public trust owing to three inter-related concerns: conflicts of interest; corporate influence on the university research agenda; and the failure to provide some form of direct return for the public’s substantial tax dollar investment. These concerns are common to many efforts to commercialize academic science but are rendered particularly acute in this case given the therapeutic promise of stem cell research and the considerable number of resources related to stem cell research in Canada, which Aggregate Therapeutics is expected to pool. We do, however, believe that the company can be altered to guard against a violation of the public’s trust, and so we present concrete modifications to its structure, which we contend should be given immediate consideration.


This paper is part of a Special Issue of the Journal of Business Ethics, edited by Chris MacDonald, dedicated entirely to ethical issues in the biotechnology industry. The full paper is currently available electronically to subscribers here.