Ethics and Emerging Medical Technologies: A Symposium
Friday April 21, 2017 - 9:00 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.
The Rotwitt Theater of the McShain Performing Arts Center
Dorothy McKenna Brown Science Building
The past decade has witnessed ever-increasing advances in innovative medical technologies including gene-editing, robotic surgery, novel pharmaceuticals, 3-D bio-printing and other forms of personalized medicine. One recent example that made headlines is the CRISPR genomic-editing technique, which Science magazine called the “breakthrough of the year” in 2015, identifying it as one of the most important tools invented in the past century. Such innovations have the potential for vastly improving human health and medical care in ways unimaginable in the not too distant past, through tissue-based treatments for cancer and other diseases, the growth and transplantation of animal organs, and repairing genetic defects in embryos.
As is often the case with emerging technologies, with the potential benefits come a host of ethical questions concerning their development and implementation: Does altering the human germ line cross a moral threshold? Is “human enhancement” a moral imperative? Will access to such technologies and treatments be problematic for certain social, economic, and racial groups? How will healthcare policy take into consideration the widest possible range of stakeholder perspectives?
This symposium brings together a group of nationally and internationally recognized experts in medical technology, bioethics, and health-care. An opening keynote presentation will be followed by three breakout sessions and a culminating panel discussion.
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Dr. Ruha Benjamin, PhD, is Assistant Professor of African American Studies at Princeton University and a 2016-17 fellow at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, NJ. Her work examines the social dimensions of science, technology, and medicine with a particular focus on issues at the nexus of innovation and equity. She received her PhD in Sociology from UC Berkeley, completed fellowships at UCLA’s Institute for Genetics and Society and the Harvard Science, Technology, and Society Program, and has received grants and fellowships from the American Council for Learned Societies, National Science Foundation, Ford Foundation, and California Institute for Regenerative Medicine. Her work is published in numerous journals including Science, Technology, and Human Values; Ethnicity and Health; and Annals of the American Academy of Social and Political Science. Dr. Benjamin is the author of People’s Science: Bodies and Rights on the Stem Cell Frontier (Stanford University Press, 2013).
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Dr. Sarah-Vaughan Brakman, PhD, is Associate Professor of Philosophy at Villanova University and a practicing clinical ethics consultant who is known nationally and internationally for her expertise in clinical medical ethics and in the ethics of embryo donation. The founding director of the Ethics Program at Villanova, Dr. Brakman holds the Anne Quinn Welsh Faculty Fellowship in the Honors Program. She earned her master’s and doctoral degrees in philosophy with a specialty in medical ethics through a joint program of Rice University and Baylor College of Medicine. Dr. Brakman is co-editor of The Ethics of Embryo Adoption and the Catholic Tradition (Springer, 2007), and her work on filial obligation and long-term care policy, decision-making for individuals with developmental disabilities, ethics in assisted reproductive technologies and adoption ethics has appeared in many scholarly books and journals. Dr. Brakman is the ethics consultant and chair of the National Ethics Committee of Devereux, the nation’s largest nonprofit provider of behavioral and mental health care.
Dr. Eric B. Kmiec, PhD, is the Founder and Director of the Gene Editing Institute at the Helen F. Graham Cancer Center & Research Institute at Christiana Healthcare System with faculty appointments at the University of Delaware, the Wistar Institute and Georgetown University Medical School. Widely recognized for his pioneering work in the fields of molecular medicine and gene editing, Dr. Kmiec has led research teams in developing gene editing technologies and genetic therapies for inherited disorders such as Sickle Cell Disease. He is the recipient of multiple research awards from the National Institutes Health, the American Cancer Society, and private foundations including the 2012 Proudford Foundation Unsung Hero Award in Sickle Cell Disease. He has been a member of numerous editorial boards, NIH study sections and review boards and is the primary author of more than 150 scientific publications; he has also edited several books on gene therapy. Dr. Kmiec holds 18 issued patents, most of which have been licensed by biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies, and has founded two biotechnology companies. He has held or holds major administrative posts in various on National Institutes Health, regional and state biomedical research grants, including IDeA Network of Biomedical Research (INBRE) and Centers of Biomedical Research Excellence (COBRE).
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