The blog of the Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues

Hunter College High School Students Visit the Bioethics Commission

Executive Director Lisa M. Lee talks with Hunter College H.S. students

The Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues (the Bioethics Commission) recently welcomed 35 students and faculty from Manhattan’s Hunter College High School. The Hunter College High School students participated in the 61st Annual Washington Seminar on Government in Action, a seminar that allows students to engage in domestic and international issues facing the U.S. government.

The Bioethics Commission staff offered the students three sessions designed to provide insight into different aspects of bioethics:  science, law, and philosophy.

Executive Director, Lisa M. Lee, Ph.D., M.S., Research Analyst Misti Ault Anderson, M.S., M.A., and Research Associate Olivia Nevitt, M.P.H., led the first session on science.  Bioethics Commission intern Ruquyyah Abdul-Karim also joined the discussion.  During this session students heard background about the Bioethics Commission, its members, staff, and the process of deliberative democracy it uses to develop its recommendations for the President and the Administration.  Advances in biomedicine and related areas of science and technology can create a range of ethical dilemmas. The students learned that the Bioethics Commission, a federal advisory committee, seeks to identify and promote policies and practices that ensure that scientific research, health care delivery, and technological innovation are conducted by the U.S. in a socially and ethically responsible manner.

Associate Directors, Michelle Groman, J.D., and Kayte Spector-Bagdady, J.D., M. Bioethics, led the law discussion. The students came well prepared with many questions, including several that focused on emerging technologies. The discussion highlighted that the law alone cannot ensure that emerging technologies such as synthetic biology and whole genome sequencing be conducted ethically.  Ethical conduct is also dependent on other things including responsible codes of conduct within industry and professional organizations, sound research design and good education. 

Senior Policy and Research Analyst Karen Meagher, Ph.D., and Research Associate Michelle Spektor, B.S., led the final discussion on philosophy. One topic brought up by the students was the issue of unequal distribution of the benefits from technological advances.   Another pointed out that various countries have differing approaches to such challenges based on their different cultural world views.

The Bioethics Commission staff was pleased to meet the students of Hunter College High School, and was impressed with the quality of the questions asked. In several of its reports the Bioethics Commission has stressed the importance of expanding ethics discourse and education.  That certainly includes fostering curiosity in today’s high school students and encouraging them to study bioethics.

3 Comments to Hunter College High School Students Visit the Bioethics Commission

  1. Michael Norwich's Gravatar Michael Norwich
    May 23, 2013 at 12:52 pm | Permalink

    As a parent of one of the students who visited, I want to sincerely thank you for providing these students such a special opportunity. I know through our son Isaac just how seriously they planned for this trip and how hard they prepared for each meeting. As a result they came away highly enthused.
    Thank you
    Michael Norwich

  2. May 31, 2013 at 9:55 am | Permalink

    I truly appreciate the opportunity that the Commission has given to the students of Hunter College High, specially given the importance that bioethics have and will have more prominently in the near future. Thanks!

  3. July 27, 2013 at 1:11 am | Permalink

    Thanks for the great opportunity that was given to the students. Thing like this shape the future of our kids and our nation.
    Thanks from the bottom of my heart.

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This is a space for the members and staff of the Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues to communicate with the public about the work of the commission and to discuss important issues in bioethics.

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