National Institute for Biological Standards and Control is the global leader in the field of biological standardisation, responsible for developing and producing over 90% of the International Reference Materials Standards (WHO) in use around the world to assure the quality of biological medicines.

The Institute is the UK's Official Medicines Control Laboratory (OMCL), responsible for testing of biological medicines within the framework of the European Union. Scientists from the Institute have an international reputation for excellence in research and are widely consulted on issues of biological medicine safety and efficacy.

The Institute has a particularly close relationship with the World Health Organisation (WHO) and is the leading WHO International Laboratory for Standards. The Institute is a centre of the Health Protection Agency which is the legal entity. The UK Stem Cell Bank was established with Government funding through the UK Research Councils, to provide a repository of ethically sourced hESC lines as part of the UK governance for the use of human embryos for research.

Deposit in the Bank is a requirement of licenses issued by the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority for those laboratories isolating hESCs. The Bank’s role is to provide quality controlled stocks of these cells that researchers worldwide can rely on to facilitate high-quality and standardised research.

The Bank currently has over 70 human stem cell lines approved by the Bank’s Steering Committee for deposit, and currently 15 of these are being released to laboratories worldwide and further cell lines will become available as stocks are prepared, quality controlled and characterised.

The UKSCB now also holds non-hESC lines and leads in the development of best practice for the operation of banks of stem cell lines. The Bank maintains an active engagement with the broader stem cell research community through its national and international activities such as the European human embryonic stem cell registry and the International Stem Cell Banking Initiative.