Christof Koch – blog.Bioethics.gov https://bioethicsarchive.georgetown.edu/pcsbi/blog The blog of the 2009 - 2017 Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues Mon, 09 Jan 2017 23:23:29 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Discussion Highlights on Ethical Issues Related to Neuroscience https://bioethicsarchive.georgetown.edu/pcsbi/blog/2013/12/18/discussion-highlights-on-ethical-issues-related-to-neuroscience/ https://bioethicsarchive.georgetown.edu/pcsbi/blog/2013/12/18/discussion-highlights-on-ethical-issues-related-to-neuroscience/#respond Wed, 18 Dec 2013 21:48:47 +0000 https://bioethicsarchive.georgetown.edu/pcsbi/blog/?p=1072 In a roundtable discussion that ended today’s meeting, Amy Gutmann, Ph.D., President of the University of Pennsylvania and the Chair of the Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues (Bioethics Commission), emphasized that “we have two big buckets here, one is the ethics of neuroscience research, and the other is the potential applications and ethical implications of the research findings themselves.” She asked each of the meeting presenters for their advice on what the Bioethics Commission should recommend as it examines the ethical issues related to neuroscience.

“I’d like to recommend that there be serious financing incentives and accountability to develop ethics scholarship in neuroscience, and to do it in a way that is very mindful…so the scholarship is structured in a way so that it itself is educational.”  – Mildred Z. Solomon, Ed.D. President of the Hastings Center

“[Bioethics] is the only field where everyone seems to think they are qualified…because everyone believes they are ethical…and they believe that’s all that’s needed.” – Paul Root Wolpe, Ph.D. of Emory University

“As a working scientist, there is already a very large regulatory burden on us, and we now in the case of my institution have several people who are full time doing nothing but the paperwork associated with any one experiment. And I would urge you, if you make recommendations, to give some thought to…the regulatory burden.” – Christof Koch, Ph.D. of the Allen Institute for Brain Science

Bioethics Commission members responded:

“I think it’s really important to recognize that ethical considerations do not equate to regulatory burdens.” – Amy Gutmann, Ph.D. President of the University of Pennsylvania and the Chair of the Bioethics Commission

“We know there are scientists that will be ethical failures…How do we prepare for [ethical failure]…how do we disincentivize it? What sort of sanctions should be in place? What sort of protections for research subjects…should be in place? We can’t pretend like it’s not going to happen; it’s going to happen. What do we do about that?” – Anita L. Allen, J.D., Ph.D. Vice Provost for Faculty at the University of Pennsylvania and the Henry R. Silverman Professor of Law and Professor of Philosophy and a member of the Bioethics Commission

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How Some Private Sector Representatives Address Ethical Issues https://bioethicsarchive.georgetown.edu/pcsbi/blog/2013/12/18/how-some-private-sector-representatives-address-ethical-issues/ https://bioethicsarchive.georgetown.edu/pcsbi/blog/2013/12/18/how-some-private-sector-representatives-address-ethical-issues/#respond Wed, 18 Dec 2013 19:55:18 +0000 https://bioethicsarchive.georgetown.edu/pcsbi/blog/?p=1063 The second session in today’s meeting of the Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues (Bioethics Commission) brought together representatives from the private sector to discuss how they identify and address ethical issues in neuroscience research.  The question before the panel: ‘How does your institute currently address ethical issues related to neuroscience research?’

Terrence J. Sejnowski, Ph.D. of the Salk Institute of Biological Sciences, noted that working with a group of human patients changed how he thought of the ethical issues surrounding neuroscience research. “Somehow when you start tinkering with the brain,” he said, “people get more concerned because it’s tinkering with who you are.” It is not like other biomedical research, he said. For example, Dr. Sejnowski said, “The liver can’t think, or if it does, it doesn’t talk.” He noted that now is “the right time to start thinking about this.”

Christof Koch, Ph.D. of the Allen Institute for Brain Science also expressed a sense of ethical responsibility. “Your active brain is who you are,” he said. “We have responsibility to our own science directly, a responsibility to our field, and to society at large.” When asked directly about whether ethical issues have affected how the Allen Institute conducts its research, Dr. Koch noted that due to ethical concerns regarding privacy, the Allen Institute has not put the genomic sequencing information online for its human brain maps. He recognized that the ethical issues absolutely have to be clarified. Dr. Koch spoke of new work that produces ‘organoids’ in a petri dish. The layers of cells show organization and some show electrical activity. The ethical implications of this work needs to be understood, Dr. Koch said, because neuroscience advances may mean that “we need to begin to think about sentience in a dish.”

Anita L. Allen, J.D., Ph.D. Vice Provost for Faculty at the University of Pennsylvania and the Henry R. Silverman Professor of Law and Professor of Philosophy and a member of the Bioethics Commission noted, “we care about controlling or interfering with the brain because it is the substrate of the mind.“ Today’s discussions on addressing and identifying ethical issues in neuroscience, will inform the Bioethics Commission as it moves forward with the request from President Obama related to the Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies (BRAIN) Initiative.

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