INDIANAPOLIS -- A $750,000 grant from the Richard M. Fairbanks Foundation of Indianapolis to the Indiana University Center for Bioethics will establish the Program in Ethical, Legal and Social Issues in Predictive Health Research.
The program will complement other developments in the life sciences in Indianapolis, including the Indiana Health Information Exchange (IHIE) and the Indiana Predictive Cardiovascular Health Project (IPCHP). IPCHP, a part of the Fairbanks Institute is a long-term predictive study created in March 2006 that is dedicated to building healthier communities. All have been funded by the Fairbanks Foundation of Indianapolis.
IHIE and IPCHP are large-scale projects that involve the collection and use of personal information -- from genetic information to medical records -- to better understand the processes involved in the development and progression of human diseases. The ultimate goal of these projects is to prevent or at least delay the onset of these diseases in Indiana and throughout the U.S.
The success of these studies will depend, in large part, on the public's willingness to share personal health information and to donate biological material, such as blood, for research. These projects raise important ethical issues such as informed consent, privacy, and important legal and economic issues such as commercialization of products and data ownership.
"We're delighted that the Fairbanks Foundation is supporting this program. It shows that a commitment to funding the best science also includes funding research to better understand the ethical issues associated with that science. We think that's the right way for the life sciences to go," said Eric M. Meslin, Ph.D., director of the IU Center for Bioethics.
The Fairbanks Foundation grant will allow the Center for Bioethics to carry out research, aid in policy development, and provide the public with information about ethical, legal, and social issues in research. The three-year grant also will support development of a website that will give public access to a bioethics digital library to be created by the IU Center for Bioethics.
"Dr. Meslin and his team already have begun working with us on these issues. As research advances into personal health areas, their contributions will be invaluable," said Douglas K. Miller, M.D., principal investigator of the Fairbanks Institute and the Richard M. Fairbanks Professor in Aging Research at the IU School of Medicine. "We greatly appreciate Fairbanks Foundation funding a more systematic, rigorous and in-depth program that addresses the bioethical, legal and social issues in predictive health research."
The IU Center for Bioethics will begin work to develop the new program this fall.
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