On April 25, 2008, a collection of community leaders, top medical researchers, and statewide biotech industry leaders met to discuss the bioethical and legal issues surrounding biobanks in Indiana. Biobanks are a growing resource in biotech research. They contain samples of human biological specimens and are often linked in varying degrees to the personal health and demographic information of the donor. Biobanks range from the very small disease specific collections of tissue to the very large national sponsored banks of several million specimens incorporating several different types of biological material from persons both healthy and with known disease. Ownership and commercial involvement are among the most difficult ethical issues in developing successful biobanks. The Bioethics for Breakfast group considered these issues along with Indiana’s role in future biobanking by asking attendees to think about the following questions:
- Are you willing to donate your DNA to a biobank for medical research?
- Are you comfortable allowing Indiana companies to profit by developing commercial products from your samples and donations?
Guest speakers at the event included:
David Flockhart, M.D., Ph.D. , Chief of the Division of Clinical Pharmacology at the Indiana University School of Medicine – Dr. Flockhart outlined the national and international status of biobanks.
Mervin C. Yoder, Jr., M.D., Richard and Pauline Klingler Professor: Department of Pediatrics, Indiana University School of Medicine – Dr. Yoder discussed the therapeutic use of biobank samples.
Andrew R. Klein, J.D., Paul E. Beam Professor of Law, Indiana University School of Law - Indianapolis – Prof. Klein led the group in discussion of the difficult ethical and legal issues.
The Bioethics for Breakfast series is co-sponsored by the Indiana University Center for Bioethics and the law firm of Sommer Barnard. – Patrick Barrett