Frequently Asked Questions about the
Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues
What is the Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues (Commission)?
The Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues is an advisory panel of the nation’s leaders in medicine, science, ethics, religion, law and engineering. The Commission advises the President on bioethical issues arising from advances in biomedicine and related areas of science and technology.
What does the Commission do?
The Commission seeks to identify and promote policies and practices that ensure scientific research, health care delivery, and technological innovation are conducted in a socially and ethically responsible manner.
The Commission conducts its work by engaging in original empirical and conceptual research, commissioning papers and studies, holding public meetings, and developing reports and other materials for public distribution.
The Commission is guided by a commitment to critically examine and explore diverse perspectives, to engage and educate the public on bioethics issues, and to pursue international collaboration to advance ethically responsible practices and policies.
Have other Presidents had bioethics commissions?
The Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues continues the nearly forty-year history of groups established by the President or Congress to provide expert advice on topics related to bioethics. These groups have differed in their composition, methods, and areas of focus, but they have shared a common commitment to the careful examination and analysis of ethical considerations that underlie our nation’s activities in science, medicine, and technology.
How long will the Commission exist?
The Commission was established by Executive Order 13521 in November 2009 and was extended by Executive Order 13591 in November 2011. The Commission will terminate in September 2013 unless it is continued by the President.
How are the Commission members selected?
Commission members are selected by the Executive Office of the President and serve for the term of the Commission.
Who serves on the Commission?
Amy Gutmann, Ph.D., President of the University of Pennsylvania chairs the Commission. Jim Wagner, Ph.D., President of Emory University is Vice Chair. The other 11 Members include: Yolanda E. Ali; Anita L. Allen, J.D., Ph.D.; John D. Arras, Ph.D.; Barbara F. Atkinson, M.D.; Nita A. Farahany, J.D., Ph.D.; Alexander G. Garza, M.D.; Christine Grady, R.N., Ph.D.; Stephen L. Hauser, M.D.; Raju Kucherlapati, Ph.D.; Col. Michael Nelson, M.D. Ph.D.; and Daniel Sulmasy, M.D., Ph.D.
How does the Commission select its study subjects?
The Commission selects its topics of study in two ways. The Executive Office of the President and the executive departments and agencies can ask the Commission to study a particular subject or answer a particular question and report back. Alternatively, the Commission can choose a topic to study based on issues of interest to the members.
How often does the Commission meet? Are the meetings open to the public?
The full Commission meets at least four times a year or more as needed. Those meetings are open to the public.
Does the Commission review or approve research grants?
No. The Commission has no involvement with public or private grants.
How can I contact the Commission staff?
You can reach the Commission staff at (202) 233-3960. The Commission office is located at 1425 New York Avenue, NW, Washington DC, 20005. Fax: (202) 233-3990.