Video: “Religion and Genomics: Sharing History, Sharing Healing”

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Vanderbilt’s Center for Biomedical Ethics and Society and Center for the Study of Religion and Culturehosted a conference , “Religion and Genomics: Navigating Pathways and Perspectives of Patient Care,” that addresses the religious and spiritual concerns of patients, clinicians, and clergy when they encounter genetic information.

Ruth Schwartz Cowan and David H. Smith spoke April3 in the Student Life Center.

Individuals religious beliefs and practices can be implicated and challenged as they deal with the consequences of advances in genomics. While many people can reconcile these two bodies of knowledge, others are made uneasy or distressed by this new science in ways that affect their personal and political choices. The purpose of this conference was to convene investigators involved in transdisciplinary projects with local participants from the clinic, the church, and the public to identify:

1.What is currently understood about the role religion plays in individuals responses to genetic information

2.What is currently understood about the role religion plays in shaping clinicians’ and clergy’s efforts to assist patients and parishioners when dealing with genetic information

3.What resources are needed to assist patients, clinicians, and clergy

4.What are new areas of inquiry for the future

Ruth Schwartz Cowan, Ph.D., the Janice and Julian Bers Professor of History & Sociology of Science at the University of Pennsylvania, is an internationally known historian of technology who has worked on 19th century heredity studies, amniocentesis and Jewish assimilation in the U.S. She is currently working on a book about history and politics of genetic screening.

David H. Smith, Ph.D., is currently Bioethicist-in-Residence at Yale University’s Interdisciplinary Center for Bioethics and Professor Emeritus in Religious Studies at Indiana University. Throughout his career, he has addressed many of the issues related to religion and health care and more specifically theology and genetics.

Contact: Joseph B. Fanning

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