The Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues met earlier this month in San Francisco. The posted agenda is kind of thin, so I’d really recommend checking out the blog coverage (link is to the first post) to see if the webcast is something to watch.
The two issues for the meeting were genetic testing and neuroethics, areas the Commission indicated it would examine. The Commission intends to issue a report on genetic testing in the last part of 2012. Another topic the Commission will deal with this year (though not at this meeting) will be the treatment of children in the event of a bioterror attack.
The first day focused on genetic testing. Panels covered the benefits of the testing, as well as what infrastructure may be needed to protect the genetic information of those who are tested. How to handle consent for genetic testing was also discussed. There are legitimate, and perhaps competing, concerns over how broadly individual genetic information will be used and to what extent individuals can have access to their own information. Privacy is likely to be an overarching theme of the report the Commission will issue.
The second day engaged with the topic of neuroethics. The sessions dealt first with the notion of self, and how changes to the brain may or may not affect that self. The Commission suspects that matters in the burgeoning field of neural imaging. Not so much with the quality of the images, but of the potential applications of those scans. That’s where the Commission will be working. They next meet in Washington, D.C. this May.