Managing cell and human identity

PHILADELPHIA – Genetic, stem cell, and reproductive technologies that have the capability to fundamentally change our cells is challenging what is means to be human. Correcting underlying mutations to cure human genetic disorders; reprogramming skin cells to other cell types to one day inject back into a person, or manipulating the genes of a sperm cell or egg to eliminate a sex-linked mutation are all current examples of these techniques that spur social, ethical, and moral questions. Leading biologists and bioethicists from the Institute for Regenerative Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, and other institutions, will come together to discuss these topics in a day-long symposium entitled, “Managing Cell and Human Identity.” The IRM is led by Kenneth Zaret, PhD, a professor of Cell and Developmental Biology at the Perelman School of Medicine . A Perspective in Science magazine published today with the same title considers how our perceptions about human identity may help us decide how and when to use these technologies.

WHERE: Biomedical Research Building, Perelman School of Medicine, 421 Curie Boulevard, Philadelphia PA, 19104. See here for directions and map. Event is free. See here for more details and to register.

WHEN: Wednesday, April, 26 8:30 – 9:00 Registration and Breakfast

SCHEDULE: 9:00 AM Introductory Remarks

8:30-9:00 AM Registration and Breakfast

9:00 AM Introductory Remarks

J. Larry Jameson, M.D., Ph.D., Dean of Perelman School of Medicine
Dawn Bonnell, Ph.D., Vice Provost for Research

9:15-9:45 AM Controlling Genes and Cells: The present and future of regeneration technologies

Ken Zaret, Ph.D., University of Pennsylvania
Joseph Leidy Professor
Director, Institute for Regenerative Medicine

9:45-10:30 AM Our Bodies, Our Selves: Theologies and Ethics for Unstable Embodiment

Laurie Zoloth, Ph.D., Northwestern University
President of Faculty Senate
Director of Graduate Studies in the Department of Religious Studies

10:30-10:45AM Civic Engagement within the IRM: Lessons learned from the community

Jamie Shuda, Ed.D., Director of IRM Life Science Outreach

10:45-11 AM Coffee Break

11-11:45 AM Why Do We Want to Be Human?

Jonathan Moreno, Ph.D., University of Pennsylvania
David and Lyn Silfen University Professor

11:45-12:30PM Discussion Panel

12:30-1:30 PM Lunch

1:30-2:15 PM More Than Your Genes

Reed Pyeritz, M.D., Ph.D., University of Pennsylvania
William Smilow Professor of Medicine

2:15-3:00 PM Evolving Attitudes toward Heritable Genomic Modification

R. Alta Charo, J.D., University of Wisconsin Law School
Warren P. Knowles Professor of Law and Bioethics

3:00-3:15 PM Coffee Break

3:15-4:00 PM How Much Longer Will We Be Human?

John Gearhart, Ph.D., University of Pennsylvania
James W. Effron University Professor

4:00-4:45 PM Discussion Panel

4:45-6:00 PM Reception


Penn Medicine is one of the world’s leading academic medical centers, dedicated to the related missions of medical education, biomedical research, and excellence in patient care. Penn Medicine consists of the Raymond and Ruth Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania (founded in 1765 as the nation’s first medical school) and the University of Pennsylvania Health System, which together form a $5.3 billion enterprise.

The Perelman School of Medicine has been ranked among the top five medical schools in the United States for the past 18 years, according to U.S. News & World Report‘s survey of research-oriented medical schools. The School is consistently among the nation’s top recipients of funding from the National Institutes of Health, with $373 million awarded in the 2015 fiscal year.

The University of Pennsylvania Health System’s patient care facilities include: The Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania and Penn Presbyterian Medical Center — which are recognized as one of the nation’s top “Honor Roll” hospitals by U.S. News & World Report — Chester County Hospital; Lancaster General Health; Penn Wissahickon Hospice; and Pennsylvania Hospital — the nation’s first hospital, founded in 1751. Additional affiliated inpatient care facilities and services throughout the Philadelphia region include Chestnut Hill Hospital and Good Shepherd Penn Partners, a partnership between Good Shepherd Rehabilitation Network and Penn Medicine.

Penn Medicine is committed to improving lives and health through a variety of community-based programs and activities. In fiscal year 2015, Penn Medicine provided $253.3 million to benefit our community.

Media Contact

Karen Kreeger
[email protected]

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