The President’s Commission on the Study of Bioethical Issues have asked KIE Senior Scholar Henry S. Richardson to speak at their 14th meeting to be held in Philadelphia on August 19th, 2013. In the meeting, the Commission will discuss the “ethical, legal, and social issues raised by incidental findings that arise from genetic and genomic testing, imaging, and testing of biological specimens conducted in the clinical, research, and direct-to-consumer contexts.” Richardson will speak on the applicability of his partial-entrustment model of ancillary-care obligations to issues involving incidental findings.
Richardson’s partial-entrustment model addresses a critical gap in research ethics literature: If medical researchers discover a disease or medical condition in one of their research participants, care for which is no part of their research effort, do they have a responsibility to care for this disease or condition? In 2004, Dr. Richardson co-authored with Leah Belsky two pioneering articles on ancillary-care obligations, one in the Hastings Center Report and one in the British Medical Journal, arguing that the informed-consent process effectively entrusts certain aspects of the participants’ health into the researchers’ care. In 2006, with support from the Kennedy Institute of Ethics, he organized a symposium on ancillary-care obligations in developing countries. This symposium led to the publication of a consensus paper on the ethics of ancillary care in PLoS Medicine in 2008.
Recently, Richardson published Moral Entanglements: The Ancillary-Care Obligations of Medical Researchers,” which has been been praised by Joseph J. Fins as a “highly cogent and compassionate argument” that will “fundamentally alter how we conceptualize and regular research both at the bedside and in policy considerations.”
To learn more about the 14th meeting of the Presidential Bioethics Commission, you can view the agenda here.
Photo of Professor Richardson on KIE homepage courtesy of Martha Stewart