The blog of the 2009 – 2017 Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues

Discussion Highlights on Neuroscience and Related Ethical Issues

In a roundtable discussion, the Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues (the Bioethics Commission) today discussed the ethical issues related to neuroscience research, as a part of the BRAIN (Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies) Initiative. Discussion highlights included:

“Neuroscience and brain studies in particular bring us closer to the question of who we are and how we function…we should applaud the fact that it is understood that, in the foundation of a new initiative like this, ethics is expected to guide the research…we have a chance in what we do today to ensure that no one will look back and wonder ‘what were we thinking?’” – James W. Wagner, Bioethics Commission Vice Chair, President of Emory University.

“People who are developing the technologies are not thinking of ethics, they are engineers…” – Henry S. Richardson, J.D., M.P.P., Ph.D., Professor, Senior Research Scholar, Kennedy Institute of Ethics at Georgetown University.

“We would argue that to be a real scientist and a real engineer you must also think ethically” – Amy Gutmann, Ph.D., Chair of the Bioethics Commission, President of the University of Pennsylvania.

“I do worry a lot about neurohype” – Nita Farahany, J.D., Ph.D., Director of Science and Society at the Institute for Genome Sciences & Policy, Professor of Law and Philosophy, and Professor of Genome Sciences and Policy at Duke University.

“We need to find ways to engage with social media and educate the public…[ways] that we did not have when the genome ELSI [Ethical, Legal and Social Implications] program began…It’s probably going to require a 20 year old to figure out how to do it.” -Thomas Murray, Ph.D., Professor Emeritus of the Hastings Center

“Working scientists and clinicians need to engage with the public directly, and at this point, there is no incentive to do so” – Anjan Chatterjee, M.D., F.A.A.N., Professor of Neurology at the Center for Cognitive Neuroscience and Center for Functional Neuroimaging at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine.

“As we think about this…if we all truly believe that the way to accomplish this goal is to educate everyone and think about these ethical issues right from the beginning, we need to think about ways that, from the beginning of this effort, we can bring people together…how do we do that? That is the question.” – Raju Kucherlapati, Ph.D., Paul C. Cabot Professor in the Harvard Medical School Department of Genetics and Professor in the Department of Medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital.

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This is a space for the members and staff of the 2009 -2017 Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues to communicate with the public about the work of the commission and to discuss important issues in bioethics.

As of January 15th, 2017 this blog will no longer be updated but continues to be available as an archive of the work of the 2009-2017 Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues

Learn more about the 2009 - 2017 Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues.