Emerging Policy and Ethical Implications from Neuroscience, Genetics, and the Microbiome

On April 12, the La Follette School of Public Affairs hosted the 2018 Spring Symposium. Co-sponsored by CDHA, the Center for Demography and Ecology, and the Institute for Research on Poverty, the event examined the ethical and policy-related challenges that have stemmed from recent breakthroughs in research on the human microbiome, genetics, and the human brain.

CDHA was well represented at the symposium’s three panels, featuring experts from across the UW–Madison campus and beyond. Jason Fletcher (public affairs; sociology) presented with Daniel Belsky (Duke) on the policy implications of integrating genetics with health education research. The researchers addressed issues relating to the genetics of educational attainment and questions surrounding the regulation and privacy of genetic data in their presentations. Fletcher and Belsky also explored how genetics can help researchers and policymakers understand populations and how to best safeguard this permanent and predictive data.

Pamela Herd (public affairs; sociology) and R. Alta Charo (law) led a session on the ethical and policy-related issues of genetic and microbial data. Other presentations, focused on the potential of brain science to inform public and private policy, featured work by Katherine Magnuson (social work) and Barbara Wolfe (economics; population health sciences; public affairs, emerita).

A recording of the entire symposium can be viewed here.