Bioethics Blogs

Reflections on National Bioethics Advisory Bodies

At today’s meeting, the Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues (Bioethics Commission) reflected on its own tenure and that of other bioethics advisory bodies.

In the first panel session of the day, the Bioethics Commission heard from a series of speakers reflecting on the past, present, and future impact of national bioethics advisory bodies. Presenters included Jason Schwartz, Assistant Professor of Health Policy and History of Medicine at Yale University; James Childress, University Professor and John Allen Hollingsworth Professor of Ethics at University of Virginia; Michael Gazzaniga, Director of SAGE Center for the Study of Mind and UC-Santa Barbara; and Nandini Kumar, former Deputy Director of the Indian Council of Medical Research.

Jason Schwartz has written widely on the history of national bioethics advisory bodies, decision making in public policy, and the structure and function of scientific expert advice to government. He addressed the impact of previous national bioethics commissions, highlighting the unique contributions that the current model for acquiring advice on bioethical issues can offer. He noted that bioethics commissions can serve an agenda setting role, identifying pressing issues of the day and bringing them to the fore. For more on this history, including links to previous commissions’ reports, click here.

Childress served as a consultant to the National Bioethics Advisory Commission (NBAC), which outlined ethical principles governing research involving human participants. He was also a member of other bioethics advisory bodies including the Recombinant DNA Advisory Committee and the Biomedical Ethics Advisory Committee. He observed that part of the overall impact of NBAC was to contribute to a public conversation about bioethics.

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.