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ACS Biomaterials Science & Engineering

Women-in-TERM Symposium

Thursday, 29th June, 8:50 – 10:20, Davos plenary room

"Personalized medicine– Ethical considerations for clinical translation"

Symposium organized by Women-in-TERM committee

Innovative tools and possibilities in biomedical sciences are rapidly growing. Personalized or precision medicine is today on the top list of most healthcare providers. With the analysis of whole genome data the opportunities for individualized therapies have become reality. Nowadays we envision linkage of entire sets of data that range from blood and tissue samples to self-recorded health profiles. Likewise, in TERM research is heading towards personalized treatments, and large biobanks and data sets are being collected and stored worldwide.

This development has enormous potential and raises new promises on the one hand. However, on the other hand there are considerable hurdles and ethical concerns that need to be addressed and overcome for a safe translation of all these new developments into clinical practice. In particular, the linking of various types of patient data raises serious questions in terms of data protection and access rights. Moreover, overwhelming and sometimes contradictory information regarding the beneficial and adverse effects of new treatments, such as stem cell therapies, and the predictive effect of gene and bio-markers imposes great challenges on patients and health care providers.

This symposium will focus on current ethical questions that need to be addressed with particular emphasis on translational research in TERM, including stem cell studies, genetics, genomics, and biobanking. Legal aspects and their impact on research activities will also be discussed. In a Keynote Lecture, Prof Annelien Bredenoord from the UMC Utrecht, The Netherlands, will introduce this session by addressing "The Ethics of Biomedical Innovation". Dr Christine Currat, Executive Director of the Swiss Biobanking Platform, will explore "The challenge of making the newly created Swiss Biobanking Platform sustainable and reliable". Following, Prof Nicole Rotter from the University Hospital Ulm, Germany will talk about "Engineered tissues and stem cells - what are the practical hurdles for clinical translation?". In a final lecture, "Legal issues for personalised TERM – Can law cope with the speed of development?" will be presented by Prof Brigitte Tag, Faculty of Law, University of Zurich, Switzerland.

This symposium will finish with a panel discussion where we will invite all speakers and the audience to share their point of view on present and future ethical reflections.