Guidelines For Human Germ-Line Interventions Topic Of AAAS Forum

September 12, 1997

Washington, DC -- September 12, 1997 -- The scientific, ethical, and religious implications of human germ-line intervention will be addressed in a first-of-its-kind public forum in Washington September 24-25.

Germ-line intervention offers the possibility of eliminating the inheritance of some genetically based diseases, but also makes it possible to contemplate enhancing human characteristics such as height or intelligence. The forum, sponsored by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), is designed to explore these applications in humans prior to scientific breakthroughs, such as the recent discovery of the possibility of cloning human beings.

Because applying germ-line intervention to humans will affect the genetic inheritance of future generations, it raises more profound ethical and religious issues than human cloning.

The forum will include a scientific and clinical overview of germ-line gene therapy, a discussion of therapeutic v. enhancement applications, a presentation on the history and status of religious involvement in germ-line issues, and panel discussions on both scientific freedom and responsibility issues and ethical and religious issues related to germ-line interventions.

WHAT: AAAS Forum on Human Germ-Line Interventions

WHEN: Wednesday, September 24, 9 a.m. - 8:30 p.m.
Thursday, September 25, 9 a.m. - noon

WHERE: American Association for the Advancement of Science
1200 New York Ave., NW, Washington
(Metro: Red, Orange/Blue line to MetroCenter)

Seating is reserved. Reporters must RSVP to Dave Amber at 202-326-6434, or send an email to The general public must RSVP to Bob Bobala by September 19 at 202-326-6733, or send an email to

AAAS Forum on Human Germ-Line Interventions
September 24-25, 1997


September 24
9:00-9:15 a.m. Welcome and Opening
Albert H. Teich, Ph.D., Directorate for Science and Policy Programs, AAAS

9:15-10:00 a.m. Scientific Overview
Difference between somatic therapy and germ-line interventions; current gene transfer capabilities; status of scientific experiments with animals; promising future directions.
Speaker: Theodore Friedmann, M.D., University of California, San Diego

10:00-11:15 a.m. Clinical Applications
Results of clinical experiments; strategies for medical applications; prospects for therapeutic applications; enhancement capabilities.
Speaker: Malcolm Brenner, M.D., St. Jude's Hospital, Memphis

11:15-11:30 a.m. Break

11:30-1:00 p.m. Scientific Freedom And Responsibility Issues
Consideration of acceptable levels of risk in human germ-line experiments; criteria for determining appropriateness of human research; public policy status in other countries; scientific vs. governmental regulation; promoting public dialogue on human germ-line interventions.
Panelists: Pilar Ossorio, Ph.D., J.D., American Medical Association
Malcolm Brenner, M.D., St. Jude's Hospital, Memphis
Cynthia Cohen, Ph.D., J.D., Georgetown University
Lee Silver, Ph.D., Princeton University

1:00-2:30 p.m. Lunch (on your own)

2:30-3:00 p.m. Presentation On The History And Status Of Religious Involvement
Speaker: Roger Shinn, Ph.D., Union Theological Seminary, Columbia University

3:00-5:00 p.m. Ethical and Theological Issues
Is germ-line alteration "playing God?"; would germ-line modifications contradict responsibilities to future generations; what kinds of justice concerns are involved; different perspectives among religious groups.
Panelists: Moshe Tendler, Ph.D., Yeshiva University (New York)
Abdulaziz Sachedina, Ph.D., University of Virginia, Charlottesville
Ronald Cole-Turner, Ph.D., Pittsburgh Theological Seminary
Albert Moraczewski, Ph.D., Pope John XXIII Medical-Moral Research and Education Center
Rebekah Miles, Ph.D., Texas Christian University

5:00-6:30 p.m. Dinner (on your own)

6:30-8:30 p.m. Therapeutic vs. Enhancement Applications
Difference between therapeutic and enhancement applications; rationale and cautions for therapeutic interventions; eugenic implications.
Speaker: Eric Juengst, Ph.D., Case Western Reserve University
Respondents: Erik Parens, Ph.D., The Hastings Center
Robert Murray, M.D., Howard University

September 25

9:00-12:00 Setting Policy and Developing Guidelines on Human Germ-Line Research and Applications
Models of policy setting; public policy in other countries; appropriateness of the National Bioethics Advisory Commission process; how best to proceed.
Speakers: Thomas Murray, Ph.D., Case Western Reserve University
Claudia Mickelson, Ph.D., Chair, NIH Recombinant DNA Advisory Committee
Respondents: Theodore Friedmann, M.D., University of California, San Diego
Gladys White, R.N., Ph.D., National Advisory Board on Ethics and Reproduction

American Association for the Advancement of Science

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