New US bioethics commission appointed

US President Barack Obama has appointed 10 more bioethics advisors, bringing membership of the Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues up to 12. The appointees join the current chair, Amy Gutman, and vice-chair, James Wagner.

They are a diverse group. Lonnie Ali is the wife of Muhammed Ali; Anita L. Allen is a law professor at the University of Pennsylvania; Barbara Atkinson, a pathologist, is executive dean of the University of Kansas School of Medicine; Nita A. Farahany, of Vanderbilt University, is an expert in the legal and ethical consequences of neuroscience; Alexander Garza is the Assistant Secretary for Health Affairs and Chief Medical Officer for the Department of Homeland Security; Christine Grady is head of the Department of Bioethics at the National Institutes of Health Clinical Center; Stephen L. Hauser is a neuro-immunologist at the University of California San Francisco; Raju Kucherlapati is  a professor of genetics at Harvard; Nelson Michael is the head of the US Military HIV Research program; Daniel Sulmasy is a Franciscan who works at the MacLean Center for Clinical Medical Ethics at the University of Chicago.

News of the appointments was not an item which attracted much attention in the media. However Summer Johnson, of the American Journal of Bioethics, was disappointed by a distinguished, but unimaginative, selection:

“…if nothing revolutionary happens in the world of scientific research over the next 3 years, then this commission will do fine. But history tells us this is unlikely to be the case. Moreover, this list of members really lacks creativity in terms of what a bioethics commission COULD have done. What about a systems biologist or nanomedicine researcher (in any one of the many disciplines of nanomedicine)?”

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