Obama Taps Gutmann to Lead Bioethics Panel

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As students took stock of their assignments heading into Thanksgiving break, Penn President Amy Gutmann received one of her own.  On November 24, President Barack Obama signed an executive order establishing a new Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues, and named Gutmann to chair it.  A White House press release called Gutmann “a distinguished political scientist, philosopher, and scholar of ethics and public policy,” and cited her status as a founding member of the Association of Practical and Professional Ethics as one of a long list of credentials.

The new panel “will advise the President on bioethical issues that may emerge from advances in biomedicine and related areas of science and technology,” according to the White House.  “The Commission will work with the goal of identifying and promoting policies and practices that ensure scientific research, health care delivery, and technological innovation are conducted in an ethically responsible manner.”

It replaces the Presidential Council on Bioethics, an advisory body created by George W. Bush, which itself replaced a Clinton-era bioethics council. Gutmann is in charge of determining the new panel’s agenda and directing its work.  Her two-year term is renewable and she will serve without compensation.

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