January 1, 2010
During the fall 2009 semester, two GSU law students participated in an experimental course as part of a research study on ethically difficult issues in biotechnology law and policy. The National Science Foundation (NSF) has funded the research study for three years. The study involves four faculty with the Center for Law, Health & Society and is entitled "Ethically Contentious Research and Innovation: An Interdisciplinary and Interinstitutional Experiment in Ethics Education and Assessment."
The NSF study tests a new interdisciplinary approach to researching and developing policy resolutions for ethics problems in biotechnology law and policy. The problems studied in the course included the prospect of bringing a Neanderthal to life, using neuroimaging technology to predict dangerousness among K-12 and college students, restricting the patenting of human genes, and expanding the use of DNA databases for forensic identification purposes.
Students worked on the problems in two interinstitutional teams. Law students Megan Daugherty and J. Aaron Brown teamed up with students from Georgia Institute of Technology (bioengineering and chemical and biomolecular engineering Ph.D. students and public policy M.S. students), Morehouse School of Medicine (biomedical science Ph.D. and Ph.D./M.D. students), and Emory University (bioscience Ph.D. students). Throughout the course, the student teams defined and investigated the problems and then developed proposed policy resolutions for the problems.
The teams concluded their study of the problems with presentations of proposed policy resolutions to policymakers, practitioners, and faculty. Students have also been invited to present their results on the Inside the Black Box radio show to undergraduate science and engineering ethics classes at Georgia Institute of Technology and to the Intellectual Property Law Society ar GSU Law (podcast available at http://smartech.gatech.edu/handle/1853/31358).
They were invited to attend the ABA Intellectual Property Roundtable on patenting genes as guests of the host law firm in Atlanta.
The study also tests a new assessment instrument developed by the study’s researchers to evaluate how effective this approach is in fostering problem-solving skills among future professionals.
The principal investigator for the study is Roberta M. Berry, a faculty fellow with the Center and a full-time faculty member at Georgia Institute of Technology. Center faculty member Leslie Wolf is co-principal investigator for the study, and Center Director Charity Scott and faculty member Paul Lombardo are members of the study’s Advisory Council. The study’s research team spans Georgia Institute of Technology, GSU College of Law, Morehouse School of Medicine, Emory University, Agnes Scott College, and UCLA.