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A patent case entitled The Association for Molecular Pathology, et al. v. Myriad Genetics, Inc. was recently decided by the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, the appellate court responsible for hearing all patent appeals. The case involves the issue of whether the two human genes associated with breast and ovarian cancer, known as BRCA 1 and 2, are the proper subject of patent protection. While many doctors, researchers, and patients claim that human genes are “products of nature” and should not be patented, the defendant contends that gene patenting is critical to the development of biotechnology and is in the best interest of patients.
Are human gene patents in the best interest of the public? Do they facilitate or impair scientific discovery and commercialization of medical tests and treatments? What are the biological, ethical, legal, and scientific implications of this decision? The controversy may be heading to the Supreme Court or may become the subject of Congressional hearings that could lead to changing the patent laws.
This special program presents the science behind gene isolation and a panel of experts representing different viewpoints on this issue at the forefront of the public concern. A special addition to this program is a mock legal argument conducted by experienced patent trial lawyers introducing the key legal concepts involved in determining whether human genes should be patented.
Speakers include: Philip Iannaccone, M.D., Ph.D., senior vice president, deputy director for research-basic sciences, Children’s Memorial Research Center, Northwestern University; Rena Conti, Ph.D., assistant professor of Health Economics and Policy, Department of Pediatrics and Medicine, University of Chicago; Robert J. Kriss, Joseph A. Mahoney, and James Ferguson, partners at Mayer Brown LLP, Chicago; Kevin E. Noonan, Ph.D, partner at McDonnell, Boehnen, Hulbert & Berghoff, LLP, Chicago.