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

Bioethics Commission staff discuss the multidisciplinary implementation of Commission education modules at APPE

Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues (Bioethics Commission) staff members Misti Ault Anderson, M.S., M.A., Karen Meagher, Ph.D., and Nicolle Strand, J.D., M. Bioethics, have just returned from Jacksonville, Florida after a successful presentation at the Twenty-third Annual International Conference of the Association for Practical and Professional Ethics (APPE). As part of the panel “Multidisciplinary Implementation of Bioethics Commission Education Modules,” Anderson, Meagher, and Strand demonstrated how two of the Bioethics Commission educational modules on informed consent might be taught in three different educational settings: a philosophy course, a science course, and a law school lunch-and-learn.

The presenters drew from the Informed Consent Background and from the Informed Consent in Privacy and Progress in Whole Genome Sequencing modules, applying the content to each subject matter and educational setting. Informed consent is particularly interesting in genomics given that as the cost of whole genome sequencing rapidly declines, its increased use in research and health care raises significant privacy issues regarding the availability and dissemination of personal genomic information.

Meagher illustrated how the topic-based educational modules can be used to update a syllabus for a course covering philosophical aspects of bioethics. The modules can be mined for recommended reading, used to modify a lecture, or combined to facilitate class discussion.

Anderson continued with examples of how these modules can be used to provide foundational bioethical concepts for biology or genetics students and future researchers. Students can benefit from an explanation of the ethical necessity of informed consent, history of and applicable federal regulations, and challenges in the informed consent process.

Strand rounded out the presentation with a demonstration of how the modules can be used to educate future lawyers who might work either for the government with federal research protection regulations or as legal counsel for universities or private companies conducting human genetic or genomic research. An educator might use the modules to help future lawyers understand the importance of informed consent, specifically in genetic and genomic research and clinical genomics; develop consent materials; analyze the compliance of consent processes with federal regulations; and identify common challenges in implementing informed consent processes.

Bioethics education can be incorporated into courses in many disciplines, at all levels, in traditional and nontraditional settings. The Bioethics Commission’s topic-based modules are designed to be flexible to support multiple approaches to implementation, for example, embedding content and exercises into existing lectures or creating a sequence of in-depth discussions on the topic in a seminar. “Session participants were very engaged and asked about using our materials to train IRBs [institutional review boards], and about how to use our modules to encourage science educators to integrate ethics into their curricula,” Anderson said.

The Bioethics Commission’s pedagogical materials demonstrate ethical analyses and applications of foundational ethical principles to contemporary biomedical and scientific challenges. The educational modules integrate material across applicable Bioethics Commission reports, including Privacy and Progress in Whole Genome Sequencing, “Ethically Impossible” STD Research in Guatemala from 1946 to 1948, and Moral Science: Protecting Participants in Human Subjects Research.

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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

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