Book Launch: Specimen Science: Ethics and Policy Implications

Book Launch: Specimen Science: Ethics and Policy Implications
November 9, 2017 12:00 PM
Countway Library, Lahey Room
Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA

In September 2017, MIT Press will publish Specimen Science: Ethics and Policy Implications, co-edited by Holly Fernandez Lynch (outgoing Petrie-Flom Executive Director), Barbara Bierer, I. Glenn Cohen (Faculty Director), and Suzanne M. Rivera. This edited volume stems from a conference in 2015 that brought together leading experts to address key ethical and policy issues raised by genetics and other research involving human biological materials, covering the entire trajectory from specimen source to new discovery.  The conference was a collaboration between The Center for Child Health and Policy at Case Western Reserve University and University Hospitals Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital; the Petrie-Flom Center  for Health Law Policy, Biotechnology, and Bioethics at Harvard Law School; the Multi-Regional Clinical Trials Center of Harvard and Brigham and Women’s Hospital; and Harvard Catalyst | The Harvard Clinical and Translational Science Center.  It was supported by funding from the National Human Genome Research Institute and the Oswald DeN. Cammann Fund at Harvard University.

About the book: Advances in medicine often depend on the effective collection, storage, research use, and sharing of human biological specimens and associated data. But what about the sources of such specimens? When a blood specimen is drawn from a vein in your arm, is that specimen still you? Is it your property, intellectual or otherwise? Should you be allowed not only to consent to its use in research but also to specify under what circumstances it may be used? These and other questions are at the center of a vigorous debate over the use of human biospecimens in research. In this book, experts offer legal, regulatory, and ethical perspectives on balancing social benefit and human autonomy in biospecimen research.

After discussing the background to current debates as well as several influential cases, including that of Henrietta Lacks, the contributors consider the rights, obligations, risks, and privacy of the specimen source; different types of informed consent under consideration (broad, blanket, and specific); implications for special patient and researcher communities; and the governance of biospecimen repositories and the responsibilities of investigators.

Panelists

  • Barbara Bierer (co-editor), Harvard Catalyst | the Harvard Clinical and Translational Science Center and the Multi-Regional Clinical Trials Center of Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard
  • Jane Perlmutter, Cancer Survivor and Patient Advocate
  • Suzanne Rivera (co-editor), Case Western Reserve University
  • Moderator: I. Glenn Cohen (co-editor), Harvard Law School and The Petrie-Flom Center

Sponsored by the Harvard Law School Library, the Francis A. Countway Library of Medicine at Harvard Medical School, and the Petrie-Flom Center for Health Law Policy, Biotechnology, and Bioethics at Harvard Law School.

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