An exciting conference occurred last week in Cleveland, Ohio on the past, present, and future of research into the ethical, legal, and social implications genetics (so-called "ELSI" research). If the large number of interesting presentations at this conference is any indication, the field is flourishing. Although I saw relatively few presentations (I was only there for part of the conference), the discussions, the turnout, and the book of abstracts show the rigor and creative energy of a thriving, international group of scholars.
As part of a panel on Saturday morning (May 3rd), I presented a short talk entitled "PredictER: Indiana University's Experience in Translating Predictive Health Ethics Research into Practice". The presentation covered the work that we've been doing at the IU Center for Bioethics on the ethical and legal aspects of predictive health research. Other speakers in the same session described similar work under way in Kyoto, Japan and in Newfoundland, Canada. Genetics is truly a global field, and, thus, so is the project of examining the ethical, legal and social implications of the science and medicine. If we want to insure the ethical practice of genetic science and the equitable sharing of its benefits, the global participation exemplified by the work at this conference, must become a common feature in the investigation of the ELSI of predictive health research. – Peter H. Schwartz