The US President's Council on Bioethics was an organization headquartered in Washington D.C. that was chartered to advise then US President George W. Bush on ethical issues related to biomedical science and technology. In November 2001, US President George W. Bush created the President's Council on Bioethics (PCB). Convened during a nationwide cloning and embryonic stem cell research debate, the Council stated that it worked to address arguments about ethics from many different perspectives. The organization enacted a model for analyzing bioethical issues through deliberation instead of through the consensus approach. US President Barack Obama replaced the PCB in 2009 with his Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues.

A PhD and medical doctor turned ethicist, Leon Kass calls himself an unlicensed humanist. Throughout his unique career he has sought to impact others and engage important cultural issues. This he has accomplished over the course of many years by studying biochemistry, teaching humanities, writing articles and books on ethics, and serving as chair of the President's Council on Bioethics. Kass has become a controversial figure in the field of embryology, having written numerous articles and overseen the publication of several reports on a range of topics including the ethics of cloning, assisted reproduction technology, and human stem cell research.

Human pluripotent stem cells are valued for their potential to form numerous specialized cells and for their longevity. In the US, where a portion of the population is opposed to destruction of human embryos to obtain stem cells, what avenues are open to scientists for obtaining pluripotent cells that do not offend the moral sensibilities of a significant number of citizens? It is this question that the official position paper, or white paper, "Alternative Sources of Human Pluripotent Stem Cells," published in May 2005 by the President's Council on Bioethics under the chairmanship of Leon Kass, seeks to answer. Three experts external to the council, Andrew Fire from the Stanford University School of Medicine, Markus Grompe of the Oregon Health and Science University, and Janet Rossant from the Samuel Lunenfeld Research Institute in Toronto, also reviewed the white paper prior to publication.