Bioethics Commission Continues Exploration of Genetic Privacy

The Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues will hold its tenth meeting in Washington on August 1 and 2.  The agenda is available online, though it is a draft agenda.  I would expect the meeting to be webcast, or at least made available after the fact for viewing online.

This meeting will continue the commission’s work on two issues dealt with in the last meeting in May.  The first day will focus on genetic testing and privacy.  Presentation topics will include changing conceptions of genetic privacy and the influence of technology on the capacity and utility of genetic databases.

On Day Two the Commission will spend most of its time focused on issues related to research conducted on children.  A specific area of interest is in research on medical countermeasures (think epidemics, or chemical/biological attacks) involving kids.  Given the notable differences between the bodies of adults and children, simply assuming different doses based on size and weight is not wise; at least not without research suggesting that approach is sound.  That said, how can you effectively conduct research on minor children with compounds that can be marginally better than the nasty compounds they are designed to fight?

There is a great deal of time in this agenda for discussion of recommendations connected to genetic testing and privacy.  As the commission expected to be completed with their work in this area by mid-2012, they appear to be on schedule.  An official report may be ready before the end of summer.

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