Development of Legislation on Stem Cell Research

Research involving human stem cells is regulated in Switzerland by the Stem Cell Research Act (StRA). The legislative process took account of both the risks and the opportunities associated with this field of research. 

Research involving embryonal stem cells presents both opportunities and risks. The legislation takes account of both. The origins of the legal basis date back to 2001, when, on 28 September, the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF) decided to fund a research project involving imported human embryonal stem cells. The Federal Council subsequently mandated the Federal Department of Home Affairs (FDHA) to regulate research involving surplus human embryos and embryonal stem cells in an “Embryo Research Act”.

While parliament was discussing the “Embryo Research Act”, it was decided to allow surplus embryos to be used exclusively for obtaining stem cells. The legislation was referred to as the “Stem Cell Research Act” from that point on, and was adopted by parliament in December 2003.

Environmental, right-to-life and religious organisations called for a referendum against the Act, and this went ahead, having collected more than 85,000 valid signatures. On 28 November 2004, the Swiss electorate approved the Stem Cell Research Act, with 66.4 per cent voting in favour.

The Ordinance on Research involving Embryonic Stem Cells (Stem Cell Research Ordinance, SCRO) came into force at the same time as the Stem Cell Research Act, on 1 March 2005.

The ordinance fleshes out the federal act, particularly the conditions to be satisfied when applying for authorisation to conduct stem cell research.

It was subsequently revised in the light of the results of an external evaluation and the implementation of stem cell research legislation up to that point. The revised ordinance entered into force on 1 April 2012.


Stem Cell Research Legislation

Research involving embryonal stem cells is regulated in Switzerland by the Stem Cell Research Act (StRA). This stipulates the conditions under which stem cells may be obtained and used in research.

Further information

Research Projects and Stem Cell Lines

The FOPH informs interested members of the public and scientists about research involving human embryonal stem cells in Switzerland by providing an overview of research projects.

Applications and licences for stem cell research

Work involving human embryonic stem cells is subject to strict rules. Here researchers, ethics committees and medical personnel will find information on the relevant applications and licences.

Last modification 28.11.2018

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