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Biotech Poster Session on Ethical Issues

Wednesday, Jun. 4, 2014

Thirty Santa Clara University Biology students presented an educational and informative Poster Session on June 3, sponsored by the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics, the Bioengineering Department, and the University Honors Program. The event took place at the newly renamed Vari Hall, Arts and Sciences building. Their assignment, given by instructors Margaret McLean and Leilani Miller, was to select a biotech topic and present the ethical issues and concerns it raises. Topics with titles such as "Do Ask, Do Tell -- Guidelines for Incidental Findings Within Genetic Testing," "Recombinant DNA Enhanced Biofuel," and "Savior Siblings: Yours, Mine, and Ours," illustrated the scope and diversity of the projects. The Poster Session, now in its 12th year, drew a large crowd of faculty and students, and fulfills the Science, Technology, and Society core curriculum requirement at SCU.

"What's most remarkable is how the projects change in ten weeks," stated McLean, associate director, Markkula Center for Applied Ethics, and senior lecturer, Religious Studies, Santa Clara University.  "When they begin, they are fascinated by a problem but soon discover the scientific and ethical pitfalls along the way. The poster project is really a process of discovery for them--discovering their passion, building their competence, and asking questions about risk, benefit, and responsibility.  Each year, the students bring new technologies and new applications of existing technologies to our attention, and we learn so much from them. Imagine de-extincting giant sloths or creating biofuels by building a cell or growing a human pancreas in a pig! Many of these students are planning careers in medicine, research, and bioengineering, which will require thinking critically and ethically, and presenting ideas clearly.  This poster presentation process helps them hone the skills needed to think deeply and speak intelligently about cutting-edge biotechnology."

A photo gallery from the event can be viewed on the Ethics Center's Facebook Page.