The Petrie-Flom Center for Health Law Policy, Biotechnology, and Bioethics

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Many important advances in human health depend on the effective collection, storage, use, and sharing of biological specimens and their associated data.  However, recent controversies involving specimen-based research have raised important questions about ownership, data-sharing, privacy considerations, group harms, and standards for responsible specimen stewardship.  

This November 2016 symposium addressed 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 experts at this day-long event covered key topics, such as historical, legal, and international perspectives; donor attitudes, researcher perspectives, and institutional considerations; broad vs. specific informed consent; privacy, ownership, and control; use of specimens collected through mandatory newborn screening; research with discrete and insular populations; and others.  Conference papers will be published as an edited volume by MIT Press in 2017.

This event was a collaboration between The Center for Child Health and Policy at Case Western Reserve University andUniversity 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. 

bioethics clinical research health law policy human subjects research regulation