Future Perfect: Who Gets to Know?

July 30, 2007

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Advances in genetics have made detailed information about our genetic makeup readily available and easier to attain. Who collects the information and who gets to keep it? What kind of power do those who gather and keep genetic information hold? Studying the genes of our ancestors and historical figures could prove to be enlightening. Yet, who's to say they shouldn't be able to take their DNA to the grave?

Lori B. Andrews, J.D. is Distinguished Professor of Law; Director of the Institute for Science, Law and Technology; Associate Vice President, Chicago Kent College of Law; is author of many books, including The Clone Age: Adventures in the New World of Reproductive Technology, and active in the Who Owns Your Body? project.

Dr. William J. Catalona is Professor of Urology; Director, Clinical Prostate Cancer Program, Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center, Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. He recently was involved in a dispute with Washington University over who owns tissue samples, research institutions who use the materials or the patients from which the samples came.

Russell Lewis is Executive Vice President and Chief Historian at the Chicago History Museum and discusses issues related to the DNA of Abraham Lincoln.

Larry Miller is an Intermedia and Fluxus artist whose multimedia pieces, including those copyrighting his own DNA, have focused on questions of genetic ownership.

There is a scientific revolution taking place that has the potential to change American society in profound ways. Advances in genetics hold much promise for combating disease, feeding more people, and generally improving our quality of life. Yet, these new sciences and technologies draw criticism and evoke fears. In the next decade, major decisions about genetics will be made. This town hall meeting begins a robust civic conversation about the ethics and implications of advances in genetic science.  Leading authorities in genetic medicine, bioethics, social thought, and the arts engage the audience in an exploration of the issues and the science that are affecting public and private life.

 

Recorded Monday, July 30, 2007 at Chicago History Museum.