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Public unease that stem cell research (SCR) may be proceeding somewhat unfettered raises issues about links between trust in and regulation of science/scientists, with wider relevance to a policy drive to (re)build public trust in science. This paper analyses three themes: different objects of trust in science (individuals, institutions and wider context); links between these objects of trust and potential roles for regulation in trust building; and trust building as a performative practice. The paper draws empirically on deliberations on trust and regulation in SCR at a UK public engagement event. Our findings demonstrate that dialogic encounters between scientists and wider publics can generate considerable openness and sophistication, with participants capable of deliberating on the multifaceted nature of 'trust' and grappling with complex and challenging issues. We reflect on the circumstances in which regulation might enhance public trust in science, on the possible role of public engagement in trust building, and on calls for greater institutional reflexivity by scientists.
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