Call for Applications: Fellowship in Medical Ethics, 2013-2014

Harvard Medical School, Division of Medical Ethics

Fellowship in Medical Ethics, 2013-2014

The Division of Medical Ethics at Harvard Medical School supports research and teaching on ethical issues in medicine, health, and healthcare policy and practice.  The Fellowship in Medical Ethics is open to physicians, nurses, lawyers, social workers, and others in academic fields related to medicine or health with a serious interest in medical ethics and a wish to further their knowledge of the history, philosophical underpinnings and contemporary practice of bioethics.

Fellows attend a weekly three hour seminar designed to explore a wide range of issues, including ethical theory, clinical ethics, research ethics, and selected topics in public health ethics. Most weeks there is extensive reading and a brief paper. During the year, fellows participate in the intellectual life of the Division of Medical Ethics and are eligible to participate in Harvard University courses with permission of the course instructor as well as monthly division Faculty Seminars and various public programs in medical ethics sponsored by the Division.

Fellows must have external salary support.  The fellowship fee is $4,000.  Most Fellows receive this support from their sponsoring institutions, and The Division of Medical Ethics will assist applicants who would like help approaching their sponsoring institutions with such a request.

Fellows are selected on the basis of their previous academic achievement and the contribution they are likely to make as researchers, clinicians, and teachers in medical ethics.  Applicants should submit a curriculum vitae and a letter of not more than 750 words, describing the reasons for their interest in the Fellowship, including any particular topics or questions they are most interested in exploring. This letter is an important opportunity for applicants to tell us about themselves, their interests, and their motivations in pursuing training in medical ethics.  Applicants should also provide two letters of reference and a third letter from their supervisor or key senior staff person, demonstrating institutional support for the candidate’s involvement in the HMS Fellowship and likely opportunities the candidate will have to contribute to bioethics at their home institution, upon completion of the Fellowship.

Deadline for submission of application materials is April 15, 2013Three copies of all application materials should be sent to:  Professor Mildred Solomon, Fellowship Director c/o Helena Martins Harvard Medical School, Division of Medical Ethics, 641 Huntington Ave, 2nd Flr, Boston, MA  02115.  If you have any questions please contact Helena at or 617-432-3041.

Does Whole Genome Sequencing Circumvent Gene Patents?

By Nicholson Price [originally posted at Bio-IT World on Dec. 10, 2012]

What happens when, during the course of whole-genome sequencing (WGS) a patient or research subject, an investigator sequences and analyzes a disease gene that has been patented? The U.S. Supreme Court will shed some light on this question next year when it issues its ruling in the long-running Myriad Genetics saga.

Last month, the Supreme Court voted to hear the case of Association for Molecular Pathology v. Myriad Genetics to consider the question whether human genes are patentable. The plaintiffs—doctors, patients, researchers, and the American Civil Liberties Union—have challenged Myriad’s patents on the breast cancer genesBRCA1 and BRCA2, which cover, among other things, isolated DNA molecules with the sequences of those genes. A federal district court in New York ruled that the patent claims on isolated DNA molecules were invalid, but that ruling was reversed on appeal by the Federal Circuit in D.C. The Supreme Court decided to review the Federal Circuit’s decision and will likely rule on whether isolated human gene sequences are patentable next summer.

This case has profound implications for biotechnology, and diagnostics, as well as the emerging field of personalized medicine. Among the fascinating issues that will likely be addressed is whether WGS—an essential foundation for truly personalized medicine—violates human gene patents.

As WGS involves determining the sequence of an individual’s entire genome, there is concern in many quarters that WGS could violate essentially every patent covering an isolated human DNA sequence—of which there are thousands. Indeed, this concern has been raised by scholars, policy analysts and lawyers, including before the Federal Circuit and in the arguments over whether the Supreme Court should hear the case.

However, a closer look at the technology suggests that rather than violating thousands of gene patents, WGS methods violate few, if any, existing gene patents. Whatever the Supreme Court decides next summer, the widespread adoption of clinical WGS is not particularly threatened by gene patents.

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Upcoming Event 01/17 – Food & Drug Law: Past, Present & Future


Food & Drug Law: Past, Present & Future
Celebrating Peter Barton Hutt’s 20 Years (thus far) at HLS

Thursday, January 17, 2013
Wasserstein 2019; Milstein West AB

Harvard Law School
4:00pm (reception to follow at 5:30)

Peter Barton Hutt has worked at the Washington, DC law firm of Covington & Burling, specializing in Food and Drug Law, for more than five decades. He has represented clients in administrative, legislative, executive, and judicial settings. He began his law practice with the firm in 1960 and is now Senior Counsel; between 1971 to 1975, he was Chief Counsel for the Food and Drug Administration. The Best Lawyers in America selected Mr. Hutt as the 2013 FDA Lawyer of the Year for Washington, DC. Since 1994, Mr. Hutt has taught Food and Drug Law during Winter Term at Harvard Law School, covering all aspects of government regulation of food and drugs from ancient times to present.

Introductions and Welcome

Martha Minow, HLS Dean

Tributes to Professor Hutt

  • I. Glenn Cohen, Assistant Professor, Harvard Law School; Faculty Co-Director, Petrie-Flom Center
  • Theodore Ruger, Professor of Law, Penn Law School
  • Lewis Grossman, Professor of Law, American University Washington College of Law

Peter Barton Hutt

Questions and Discussion

Dean Minow and Audience

For questions, contact, 617-496-4664

Co-sponsored by the Petrie-Flom Center and the HLS Dean’s Office