Presidential Commission on Bioethics on Campus Nov. 5-6

The University of Chicago in conjunction with the Divinity School and the MacLean Center for Clinical Medical Ethics are pleased to announce that the Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues will hold a two-day meeting at the University November 5th and 6th. The meeting will bring together the nation's leaders in science, medicine, ethics, engineering and law.


The commission meets quarterly and advises the president on bioethical, legal, and social issues that arise from advances in biomedical and behavioral research, healthcare delivery, or other areas of science and technology.

The meeting is open to the public and will be held at the Divinity School's Swift Hall.

"One of the principles the commission emphasizes is that significant ethical issues in biotechnology are best addressed through democratic deliberation. The University of Chicago is an almost perfect setting for such deliberation, providing world-class expertise in biology, medicine, ethics, law, economics, religion, and policy, located in a dynamic and diverse city," said Dr. Daniel Sulmasy, the Kilbride-Clinton Professor of Medicine and Ethics in the Department of Medicine and the Divinity School, and associate director of the MacLean Center.

Sulmasy is one of thirteen members of the commission.

On the agenda will be a report on the ethical issues surrounding whole genome sequencing and continued discussions on medical countermeasures for children.

"The topics we discuss concern a plethora of new questions engendered by powerful technologies, but also ancient questions regarding free will and human nature," Sulmasy said.

The chair of the commission is Dr. Amy Gutmann, president of the University of Pennsylvania. Other members of the commission include Emory University President James Wagner, Lonnie Ali, outspoken advocate for increased funding for research and Parkinson's disease and the wife of Muhammad Ali, and Alexander Garza, chief medical officer for the Department of Homeland Security.

The Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues, created by executive order in November 2009, is the latest incarnation of a near-forty-year tradition of such bodies being formed to advise either Congress or the president on bioethics.