News Release: Faculty Experts, Religion and Ethics

Jul. 6,  2010

Emory Ethics Center Director Wolpe to Speak at Presidential Bioethics Commission

News Article ImagePaul Root Wolpe, PhD, director of the Emory Center for Ethics

Paul Root Wolpe, PhD, director of the Emory Center for Ethics, will be one of the speakers at the first meeting of the Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues, July 8-9 in Washington, DC. The meeting's primary topic is synthetic biology.

Following last May's announcement that scientists had created a self-replicating cell containing an entirely synthetic genome, President Barack Obama asked the Bioethics Commission to study the implications of this technology. He asked the Commission to issue a report within six months and to recommend to him any actions it thinks the federal government should take to maximize benefits and minimize risks associated with this technology, while identifying appropriate ethical boundaries.

President Obama appointed Emory President James W. Wagner as vice chair of the Presidential Commission last November. Wagner and other members of the commission will advise the president on bioethical issues that may emerge from advances in biomedicine and related areas of science and technology. The commission will work with the goal of identifying and promoting policies and practices that ensure scientific research, health care delivery and technological innovation are conducted in an ethically responsible manner.

Wagner has championed the role of ethics in Emory's mission by significantly enhancing the prominence of the university-wide Center for Ethics and including ethical engagement as a pillar of Emory's strategic vision.

Wolpe is the Asa Griggs Candler Professor of Bioethics, the Raymond F. Schinazi Distinguished Research Chair in Jewish Bioethics and a professor in the departments of medicine, pediatrics, and sociology. He also serves as the first bioethicist for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). He is co-editor of the American Journal of Bioethics (AJOB) and editor of AJOB Neuroscience.

Wolpe is a past president of the American Society for Bioethics and Humanities; a fellow of the College of Physicians of Philadelphia, the country's oldest medical society; a fellow of the Hastings Center, the oldest bioethics institute in America; and is the first national bioethics advisor to Planned Parenthood Association of America.

Other speakers at the first meeting include Craig Venter, PhD, Drew Endy, PhD, George Church, PhD, and other leaders in synthetic biology, as well as experts in ethics, policy, regulation and government. Please see agenda for full list of speakers and location: http://www.bioethics.gov/meetings/070810/

Link to President Obama's request to the Commission: http://www.bioethics.gov/documents/Letter-from-President-Obama-05.20.10.pdf

All Commission meetings are free and open to the public. The meeting will be live-streamed and archived on the Commission website at http://www.bioethics.gov. Transcripts will be posted on the website after the meeting.

For more information about the Emory Center for Ethics: http://ethics.emory.edu.

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