November 5, 2010

Bioethics panel shaping recommendations

Emory is at the epicenter of the ethics of the rapidly accelerating field of synthetic biology.

The Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues will meet on campus Nov. 16-17, which is the final meeting before issuing its recommendations on developments in the field.

Emory President Jim Wagner serves as vice chair of the Commission, which is headed by University of Pennsylvania President Amy Gutmann. 

The commission’s meeting in Atlanta will be held at the Emory Conference Center Hotel. Meetings are free and open to the public. They are also webcast live and are made accessible in the archives of the commission’s website.

"It will be a privilege for us at Emory to welcome colleagues and commission members from across the country for two days of study and discussion," said Wagner. "Ethical engagement with human issues arising at the frontiers of science is one of Emory’s core commitments as an academic community."

A notice in the Federal Register says at its Atlanta meeting, the commission will develop and finalize recommendations concerning any actions that the federal government should take to ensure that America reaps the benefits of synthetic biology while identifying appropriate ethical boundaries and minimizing risks. It will also identify suggestions for future study.

"Beyond our own campus," Wagner continued, "Atlanta is rich in distinguished colleges and universities as well as associated institutions like the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, The Carter Center, the American Cancer Society, and many other agencies and groups. We look for a good turnout from interested members of the public as well as teachers, students and practitioners in fields that touch on synthetic biology."

The 13-member group was appointed by President Barack Obama to advise him on bioethical issues that may emerge from advances in biomedicine and related areas of science and technology.

Those who would like to provide public comment at the meeting should notify Judy Crawford at 202.233.3960.

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