The Phoebe R. Berman Bioethics Institute at The Johns Hopkins University has received a three-year, $9.9 million grant from the Pew Charitable Trusts to establish the Genetics and Public Policy Center in Washington, D.C. The center's first initiative will focus on ethical and public policy issues related to genetics and human reproduction.
Kathy Hudson, Ph.D., will direct the new center, which was approved by the Trusts' board of directors on Wednesday, March 13. Hudson, a molecular biologist, is currently assistant director of the National Human Genome Research Institute at the National Institutes of Health, where she has led the policy, education, and communication efforts for the Human Genome Project.
"The development and use of reproductive genetics, like other critical issues facing our society, deserve a robust debate informed by scientific facts and ethical considerations," said Rebecca Rimel, president and Chief Executive Officer of The Pew Charitable Trusts. "The Pew Charitable Trusts are committed to encouraging such conversations on this and other vital issues and we welcome our partnership with The Johns Hopkins University in this endeavor."
The Genetics and Human Reproduction Initiative will explore policy options and guidelines for using reproductive genetic technologies in humans, such as manipulating genes to select certain characteristics. While such genetic engineering in mice, rats and other laboratory animals is a vital component of basic biomedical research, the potential to use this and other techniques with humans raises moral, ethical and religious concerns.
"As the science advances and the potential to use these techniques in human reproduction grows, society needs to be prepared," said Hudson. "Genetics and reproduction are intensely personal because both are fundamental, intimate expressions of who we are as individuals, families, communities, and as a species. Our goal is to provide an objective source
Contact: Joanna Downer
Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions