Bioethics Commission Will Follow Human Subjects Work With Examinations of Sequencing and Imaging

While the May meeting of the Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues focused on its project on human subjects research, the Commission is looking forward to its next projects.

In late May Commission Chair Dr. Amy Gutmann announced what the next two projects will be.  First the Commission will examine the collection, use and governance of genetic sequencing information.  Specific topics will include:

“how human sequence information is collected and stored, what constitutes informed consent for genetic sequencing and when is it necessary, when should incidental findings and other results be reported (and to whom), whether and what kind of counseling is called for, along with a host of intersecting privacy issues.”

The Commission plans to finish this project by mid-2012 (the human subjects report – both the international study and the Guatemalan review – are expected later this year).  At that point it will move to a study on neuroimaging they intend to finish by the end of 2012.  From the description, this study appears to be more concerned with implications of neuroimaging on societal perceptions of the individual.  As the Commission puts it:

“For this study, the Commission plans to address issues related to notions of the person and the implications of advances in neuroimaging for these understandings, including the implications of related insights from neuroimaging and philosophy for moral and legal responsibility.”

The Commission has been exploring these issues, and dedicated part of its February/March 2011 meeting to briefings in both areas.

As for the May meeting, the blog entries from Commission staff highlight two things:

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