Life Sciences, Technology, and the Law

March 7, 2003


Symposium Overview

The Michigan Telecommunications and Technology Law Review is proud to present the Symposium: Life Sciences, Technology and the Law. Few technological advances of recent years have challenged legal thinking as pervasively as those emerging from the life sciences. From the human genome project to cloning technology, the applications of biotechnology are exploding at an ever-increasing rate. Life science technology has already begun to change our world and the legal community, from DNA evidence in criminal prosecutions to the promulgation and implementation of new laws regarding stem cell research, pharmaceuticals and gene therapy.

As new life science technologies and their practical applications emerge, we, as a society, must begin the process of developing policy and law to answer previously unimaginable questions. While the medical community remains on the leading edge of this wave of technological innovation, the law has yet to refine legal standards to keep pace with resulting social changes.

This Symposium seeks to encourage an exploration of the legal issues presented by recent advances in the life sciences. The creation of the Life Sciences Institute here at the University presents the opportunity to bring together preeminent scholars, legal practitioners, policy makers, representatives of related industries and members of the University community at a conference that will discuss the legal and policy questions raised by this remarkable revolution in the life sciences. It is the hope of both the Michigan Telecommunications and Technology Law Review and the Life Sciences Institute that discussions at the Symposium will serve as a springboard, generating continuing interdisciplinary collaboration between academics to answer these questions in the twenty-first century.

The transcript of the Symposium is available in Volume 10, Issue 1.


Key Note Speaker: Philip Reilly

Dr. Reilly is President of the American Society of Law, Medicine and Ethics, and CEO of Interleukin Genetics, Inc. He also serves as an Assistant Professor of Pediatrics at Tufts University School of Medicine. From 1990-2000, Dr. Reilly was CEO of the Shriver Center for Mental Retardation in Waltham, MA, a NIH funded research institution. He has served on faculties of Brandeis University (1994-2000) and Harvard Medical School (1986-1998). From 1995 to 1998 Dr. Reilly was a member of the Board of Directors of American Society of Human Genetics. In 1999-2000 he was President of American Society of Law, Medicine and Ethics. He has published more than 150 articles about genetics and medicine and is the author of several books, including Abraham Lincoln's DNA and Other Adventures in Genetics, Genes & Your Fate: Understanding Your Genetic Heritage,and Genetics, Law, and Social Policy.


Symposium Panels

Panel I: The Life Sciences in Court
How are courts to use the ever-evolving technologies that promise to revolutionize how we resolve factual disputes? What should guide courts and legislatures when making legal decisions regarding the use of these technologies as evidence? Biotechnology has had a profound effect on the American legal system. DNA analysis has resulted in freedom for some wrongfully convicted; even prompting the State of Illinois to halt all executions while each capital punishment case is reviewed. The same type of analysis has proven to be decisive in convicting others whom otherwise would have escaped justice. This session will explore the role of these new technologies in the most traditional functions of our courts.
Panel II: The Regulation of Life Sciences
How is the government to regulate technologies that promise to improve our health and well-being but raise serious safety and moral concerns? What is the proper balance between profit incentives, product safety, and the desire to quickly provide drugs and treatments to those who need them? These are some of the most high profile and pressing questions in American public discourse today. This session will explore the complex issues that arise in this crucial and timely debate.
Panel III: The Evolving Role of Technology Transfer
What is the proper form and function of the mechanism for moving new technologies from the researchers that discover them to the private sector where they can be developed and brought to market? What is the role of public institutions and universities, such as the University of Michigan, in the creation and development of commercial products? These questions are the necessary result of the realities which face both the public and private sector in our brave new world of technology transfer. This session will seek to explore the issues that arise when we attempt to reap the benefits of the market while still maintaining the integrity of academic research.

Symposium Participants

Rebecca Eisenberg

Robert and Barbara Luciano Professor of Law
University of Michigan Law School

Carl Gulbrandsen

Managing Director
Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation

David Kaye

Regents Professor
Arizona State University College of Law

Jay Koehler

Associate Professor of Behavioral
Decision Making and University Distinguished Teaching Professor
McCombs School of Business and School of Law
University of Texas at Austin

Mel Kronick

Manager for the BioResearch Solutions Division
Agilent Technologies

Richard Lempert

The Eric Stein Distinguished University Professor of Law and Sociology
University of Michigan Law School

Ken Nisbet

Executive Director
Technology Transfer Office
University of Michigan

Rosemary Quigley

Assistant Professor of Medical Ethics and Health Policy
Baylor College of Medicine

Symposium Sponsors

University of Michigan Law School

University of Michigan Life Sciences, Values and Society Program

University of Michigan Life Sciences Institute

University of Michigan Business School

University of Michigan Office of the President

University of Michigan Office of the Provost and Executive Vice

President for Academic Affairs

University of Michigan Chemistry Department

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