Bioethics Commission Reports

Summary

The Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues 2013 has published two reports.

In Gray Matters: Integrative Approaches for Neuroscience, Ethics, and Society, the Bioethics Commission analyzed why and how to achieve ethics integration early and explicitly throughout neuroscience research.

In Gray Matters: Topics at the Intersection of Neuroscience, Ethics, and Society, the Bioethics Commission broadly considered the ethical and societal implications of neuroscience research and its applications.

The Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues, in response to President Barack Obama’s  request of July 1, 2013, has published two reports.

In Gray Matters: Integrative Approaches for Neuroscience, Ethics, and Society, the Bioethics Commission analyzed why and how to achieve ethics integration early and explicitly throughout neuroscience research.

In Gray Matters: Topics at the Intersection of Neuroscience, Ethics, and Society, the Bioethics Commission broadly considered the ethical and societal implications of neuroscience research and its applications.

Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues

About the Commission

The Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues (the Bioethics Commission) is an advisory panel of the nation’s leaders in medicine, science, ethics, religion, law, and engineering. The Bioethics Commission advises the President on bioethical issues arising from advances in biomedicine and related areas of science and technology. The Bioethics Commission seeks to identify and promote policies and practices that ensure scientific research, health care delivery, and technological innovation are conducted in a socially and ethically responsible manner.

Gray Matter Reports #1

Integrative Approaches for Neuroscience, Ethics, and Society 

Gray Matters: Integrative Approaches for Neuroscience, Ethics, and Society is the first set of recommendations from the Bioethics Commission in response to a request from President Obama to review the ethical issues associated with the conduct and implications of neuroscience research.   Specifically the President asked the Bioethics Commission to “identify proactively a set of core ethical standards – both to guide neuroscience research and to address some of the ethical dilemmas that may be raised by the application of neuroscience research findings.”  This volume is the first of a two-part response to the President’s request and focuses on the integration of ethics into neuroscience research across the life of a research endeavor.

Integrating ethics explicitly and systematically into the relatively new field of contemporary neuroscience allows us to incorporate ethical insights into the scientific process and to consider societal implications of neuroscience research from the start.  Early ethics integration can prevent the need for corrective interventions resulting from ethical mishaps that erode public trust in science.  Everyone benefits when the emphasis is on integration, not intervention.  Ethics in science must not come to the fore for the first time after something has gone wrong.

PDF of the Report

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Gray Matter Reports #2

Topics at the Intersection of Neuroscience, Ethics, and Society

On behalf of the Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues, we present to you Gray Matters: Topics at the Intersection of Neuroscience, Ethics, and Society, the second part of the Bioethics Commission’s response to your request of July 1, 2013. In its first volume, Gray Matters: Integrative Approaches for Neuroscience, Ethics, and Society, the Bioethics Commission analyzed why and how to achieve ethics integration early and explicitly throughout neuroscience research. In this second and final volume, the Bioethics Commission broadly considered the ethical and societal implications of neuroscience research and its applications.

Building on its earlier work, the Bioethics Commission addressed this topic in nine public meetings, where it heard from experts from myriad disciplines and perspectives, including neuroscientists, philosophers, educators, ethicists, federal regulators, public- and private-sector partners involved in the Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies (BRAIN) Initiative, and representatives of affected communities with a stake in the outcomes of neuroscience research. In addition, the Bioethics Commission solicited public comment and received more than 30 thoughtful responses.

Contemporary neuroscience offers the opportunity to better understand the human brain and support the development of more effective diagnostic tools, treatments, preventions, and cures for neurological disorders and psychiatric conditions that affect tens of millions of individuals in the United States alone. 1425 New York Avenue, NW, Suite C-100, Washington, DC 20005 Phone 202-233-3960 Fax 202-233-3990 www.bioethics.gov v 1425 New York Avenue, NW, Suite C-100, Washington, DC 20005 Phone 202-233-3960 Fax 202-233-3990 www.bioethics.gov This promise—along with the potential to gain a deeper understanding of our cognition, emotion, imagination, behavior, memory, learning, and social interactions—has captured the interest of scientists and the public alike. The Bioethics Commission delved deeply into three important topics that advancing neuroscience and technology throw into heightened ethical and practical relief: cognitive enhancement, consent capacity, and neuroscience and the legal system.

This report seeks to clarify for the public the current scientific landscape, clear a path to productive discourse to navigate difficult issues as they arise, and identify common ground where it exists. We offer 14 recommendations to guide the ethical progress of neuroscience research and its applications. Our recommendations call for attention to fundamental ethical concerns regarding, for example, justice and stigmatization of groups and individuals; research to clarify persistent questions and fill gaps in our current state of knowledge; accurate communication about the ethical and practical implications and application of neuroscience research results; clarity around legal requirements and new guidance where needed; and the need to support and advance innovative multidisciplinary research and scholarship at the critically important intersection of neuroscience, ethics, and society.

Building on its earlier work, the Bioethics Commission addressed this topic in nine public meetings, where it heard from experts from myriad disciplines and perspectives, including neuroscientists, philosophers, educators, ethicists, federal regulators, public- and private-sector partners involved in the Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies (BRAIN) Initiative, and representatives of affected communities with a stake in the outcomes of neuroscience research. In addition, the Bioethics Commission solicited public comment and received more than 30 thoughtful responses.

Contemporary neuroscience offers the opportunity to better understand the human brain and support the development of more effective diagnostic tools, treatments, preventions, and cures for neurological disorders and psychiatric conditions that affect tens of millions of individuals in the United States alone. 1425 New York Avenue, NW, Suite C-100, Washington, DC 20005 Phone 202-233-3960 Fax 202-233-3990 www.bioethics.gov v 1425 New York Avenue, NW, Suite C-100, Washington, DC 20005 Phone 202-233-3960 Fax 202-233-3990 www.bioethics.gov This promise—along with the potential to gain a deeper understanding of our cognition, emotion, imagination, behavior, memory, learning, and social interactions—has captured the interest of scientists and the public alike. The Bioethics Commission delved deeply into three important topics that advancing neuroscience and technology throw into heightened ethical and practical relief: cognitive enhancement, consent capacity, and neuroscience and the legal system.

This report seeks to clarify for the public the current scientific landscape, clear a path to productive discourse to navigate difficult issues as they arise, and identify common ground where it exists. We offer 14 recommendations to guide the ethical progress of neuroscience research and its applications. Our recommendations call for attention to fundamental ethical concerns regarding, for example, justice and stigmatization of groups and individuals; research to clarify persistent questions and fill gaps in our current state of knowledge; accurate communication about the ethical and practical implications and application of neuroscience research results; clarity around legal requirements and new guidance where needed; and the need to support and advance innovative multidisciplinary research and scholarship at the critically important intersection of neuroscience, ethics, and society.

PDF of the Report

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