Bioethics Blogs

Identifying the Ethical Considerations in Neuroscience Research, Clinical Innovations and Applications

As it continued today’s meeting on neuroscience, the Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues (Bioethics Commission) turned its attention to potential clinical applications and innovations that may stem from neuroscience research. President Obama asked the Bioethics Commission to consider the ethical issues associated with neuroscience as part of the BRAIN (Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies) Initiative.

This panel included Steven L. Small, Ph.D., M.D., the Stanley van den Noort Professor and Chair of the Department of Neurology, Professor of Neurobiology and Behavior, Professor of Cognitive Sciences, and Director of the Neuroscience Imaging Center at the University of California, Irvine; Paul J. Ford, Ph.D., the Director of the NeuroEthics Program and Education Director for the Department of Bioethics at the Cleveland Clinic and Associate Professor at the Cleveland Clinic Lerner College of Medicine of Case Western Reserve University; and Helen Mayberg, M.D., a Professor of Psychiatry, Neurology, and Radiology and the Dorothy C. Fuqua Chair of Psychiatric Neuroimaging and Therapeutics at the Emory University School of Medicine.

Small offered an overview of the basic science and began by highlighting the emergence of high performance computing that can crunch vast amounts of data, demonstrating the advances currently being made in the field. Small then identified areas he believes should become research priorities including brain circuit analysis, a field with the potential to help patients with epilepsy or those who have suffered a stroke or spinal cord injury; personalized medicine based on biomarkers or anticipating how an individual’s brain might react to a treatment; brain circuit alterations, using both invasive and non-invasive technologies; and brain computer interfaces.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.