ASU law professor receives NIH grant

July 11, 2003

Gary Marchant, Professor of Law and Executive Director of the Center for Law, Science and Technology at the College of Law at Arizona State University has been awarded a $500,000 grant over two years from the National Institutes of Health to analyze the legal, ethical and policy effects that sequencing the human genome will have on federal environmental policy and regulation.

Professor Marchant said, "Mapping the human genome will cause an explosion in man's knowledge of genetic factors that affect individual human susceptibility to environmental pollution. The law needs to adjust and expand to meet this explosion. With this grant we will start what surely will be a long-term legal effort to catch-up with this emerging knowledge."

Professor Marchant will be lead a team that includes Dr. Andrew Askland, Director of the Center for Law, Science and Technology, Dr. Richard Sharp of the Baylor College of Medicine and Jamie Grodsky, Associate Professor of Law at the University of Minnesota Law School.

The study will focus on four specific areas: Finally, with the information developed from these analyses, the team will develop criteria for using data about the human genome in environmental regulation.

"New genetic knowledge has revealed that we are all individually unique in how we respond to foreign materials entering our bodies, whether they be industrial chemicals, pollutants, drugs, foods or viruses", Professor Marchant said. "The way we regulate the environment will have to be revised to take account of our new ability to identify those who are most likely to be adversely affected by particular environmental exposures and those who are not."

Professor Marchant received both undergraduate and doctoral degrees in genetics from the University of British Columbia. He also earned a master's in public policy from the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard and a juris doctor from Harvard Law School where he was Editor-in-Chief of the Harvard Journal of Law & Technology and editor of the Harvard Environmental Law Review. Before joining the College of Law, he was a partner in the Washington office of Kirkland & Ellis, where he practiced environmental law. Currently, he teaches environmental law and a course entitled "Law & Genetics" at the College.
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The National Institutes of Health is an agency within the federal Department of Health and Human Services. It is composed of a number of Institutes, two of which, the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences and the National Human Genome Research Institute, are funding Professor Marchant's study. The over-all goal of the National Institutes of Health is to provide knowledge that will improve the public's health. This fiscal year, Congress appropriated approximately $23.4 billion to conduct research in its laboratories, support research at universities and health related institutions and foster communication of medical information.

Arizona State University

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