The Ethics of Genetic Technologies

On Thursday, Dana Alliance member Steven E. Hyman helped the International Neuroethics Society (INS) kick off its annual meeting in San Diego. INS President and fellow Dana Alliance member Judy Illes welcomed attendees and introduced Hyman, who opened the program with his presentation titled, “Emerging Genetics of Human Cognition and Behavior: New Challenges for Ethics and Policy.”


Steven Hyman, M.D.

“Scientists always knew that genetics would help us,” he began, “but the trouble was that it is fiendishly complex, and the technology was, at the time, unavailable…I truly didn’t expect to live long enough to see [it] develop.”

With the commencement of the Human Genome Project, technologies were suddenly available that allowed scientists to yield information crucial to the sequencing and mapping of all genes. In that same decade, he commented, the BRAIN Initiative and stem cell technologies were also developed, adding another feat to neuroscience research. With this, Hyman said, it suddenly became possible to fundamentally try to understand schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and other nervous system diseases, such as epilepsy, Parkinson’s disease, and so on.

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2015 Brain Awareness Reception at SfN

This year’s annual Brain Awareness Reception took place in Chicago’s massive McCormick Place on Saturday, as part of an eventful program created by the Society for Neuroscience (SfN). The main floor was filled with rows of more than 600 exhibitors, showcasing new tools, technologies, and publishing opportunities for communicating science. Meanwhile, the upstairs space was dedicated entirely to celebrating the work done by students, postdocs, scientists (several Dana Alliance members included), educators, and general brain enthusiasts who devote their time to public outreach efforts.

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Kathleen Roina, director of BAW (right), and Amanda Bastone (left) handing out free educational resources at the reception.

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Neuroscience and the Law

Much of what we “know” from neuroscience research is not ready—yet—for use in the courtroom, argued panelists during a forum on Thursday in Washington, DC.

“We’re not at the stage where we can accuse or convict—or determine a sentence” using only brain data, said Steven Hyman, director of the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard and a Dana Foundation board member, during a Neuroscience and Society session at the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).

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International Neuroethics Society 2012 Annual Meeting

Paul Root Wolpe, Ph.D., is the Asa Griggs Candler Professor of Bioethics and the director of the Center for Ethics at Emory University. He is also the program committee chair of the International Neuroethics Society.

It is my great pleasure to invite you to join us at the 2012 International Neuroethics Society (INS) Annual Meeting in New Orleans, October 11th and 12th, right before the Society for Neuroscience Meeting. The INS is a society dedicated to exploring the ethical, social, and legal implications of neurotechnology and clinical neuroscience. Our website can tell you more about the society, and about the agenda of our program and how to register.

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