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

What’s Next for the Bioethics Commission?

As part of the Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies (BRAIN) Initiative announced in April 2013, President Obama charged the Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues (Bioethics Commission) to review the ethical issues associated with the conduct and implications of neuroscience research. Specifically the President asked the Bioethics Commission to “identify proactively a set of core ethical standards – both to guide neuroscience research and to address some of the ethical dilemmas that may be raised by the application of neuroscience research findings.”

The Bioethics Commission recently released Gray Matters: Integrative Approaches for Neuroscience, Ethics, and Society (Gray Matters, Vol. 1), its first set of recommendations in response to President Obama’s charge. A multiple-part report allows the Commission to respond quickly in the face of a rapidly emerging and evolving field.

In its second report, the Bioethics Commission will consider the ethical and societal implications of neuroscience research and its applications more broadly. The strongly integrated research and ethics infrastructure recommended in Gray Matters, Vol. 1 will be well equipped to address such ethical and societal implications. Next, the Commission will examine implications that stakeholders, including scientists, ethicists, educators, public and private funders, affected communities, and the public should be prepared to handle.

In a public meeting held in Washington, D.C. in February, the Bioethics Commission heard from experts about science communication and hype, especially in the field of neuroscience. Science communication about neuroscience and its applications is one topic that the Bioethics Commission will examine more thoroughly in the next report.

And in its most recent meeting, held earlier this month in Atlanta, Ga., the Bioethics Commission discussed additional ethical and societal issues in neuroscience, including protecting privacy in neuroscience data sharing, and the complexities of ensuring autonomy in individuals with diminished capacity, or no capacity, to consent to neuroscience research across all stages of life.

These issues and more will be elaborated upon in Gray Matters, Vol. 2. Join us or tune in to our live webcast of the Bioethics Commission’s 18th meeting in Washington, D.C. in August, to hear more robust discussion of ethical and societal issues in neuroscience.


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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.