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U Symposium on the Law, Ethics, and Science of Precision Medicine


Register and view the full agenda here.

Watch the live stream at the links below:

(SALT LAKE CITY)—The potential to treat, cure or even prevent illness through precision medicine has raised hope for improving the health of people worldwide, but it also has generated complex scientific, legal, ethical and social questions that must be answered for that promise to become real.

On Dec. 1-2, those issues will come to the fore as national experts in genetics, medicine, law, big data and other fields gather for Frontiers in Precision Medicine II: Cancer, Big Data and the Public, a unique precision medicine symposium at the University of Utah S.J. Quinney College of Law, Center for Law and Biomedical Sciences, University of Utah Health Sciences, Huntsman Cancer Institute, and University of Utah Center for Excellence in ELSI Research (UCEER) addresses those topics as precision medicine is gaining more attention nationwide from health care systems, practitioners, researchers, insurers and federal agencies. Vice President Joe Biden's "Cancer Moonshot" initiative is an example of precision medicine in its goal of using big data and precision oncology techniques.

The symposium is unique in looking at all of the issues related to personal medicine, according to Willard Dere, M.D., executive director for the University of Utah Health Sciences Program in Personalized Health.

"This conferences fuses the medical and scientific issues with the ethical, legal and social issues," he says. "Oftentimes conferences look at one or two of those. We have a really exciting opportunity to explore some of these things, all in a day and a half."

The symposium will feature a keynote address by Christopher P. Austin, M.D., director of the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS) at the National Institutes of Health. In his role, Austin is leading NCATS researchers in the effort to advance the translation of laboratory and clinical research in the United States into treatments and therapies that benefit patients everywhere. In this effort, they're studying everything from developing new medical procedures and ways to diagnose disease to finding new therapeutics and addressing behavioral change to improve health. Austin will deliver his address, "Catalyzing Translational Innovation," at 1:40 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 1.

In addition to the keynote, the conference will include sessions with panel discussions on topics including:

  • Tackling Cancer with Precision Data
  • Precision Prevention (current techniques for cancer prevention based on genetic information)
  • The Public and Precision Medicine
  • Patenting Precision Medicine
  • Providers, Payers and Laboratory Testing

Panelists and speakers will include physicians, attorneys, scientists and other experts from organizations such as the Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons to the Oregon Health Sciences Center and Kaiser Permanente. A range of experts from the U will participate in discussions on legal issues, biomedical informatics and other topics.

Jorge Contreras, J.D., U associate professor of law, says the conference sponsors hope participants leave the symposium with a better appreciation of how the issues surrounding personal medicine intersect and relate to each other. "This is an important area that could significantly improve human health, but it has some serious cost and ethical and legal issues that need to be worked out."

Listen to Emily Coonrod and Jorge Contreras discuss issues facing precision medicine »