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Scientists, Lawyers Focus on Gene Research

Released: Tuesday, February 03, 2004

BATON ROUGE – In the world of science, the field is called genomics – the study of how the human gene is made, how it works and how to spot potential disease-causing genetic flaws. Also, scientists are learning that people can be grouped by genetic similarities, particularly into groups more prone to genetically influenced diseases. This knowledge of how the human gene works allows scientists to manipulate it, to seek a way of correcting genetic mistakes in disease prone individuals and groups.

Scientists, physicians, politicians and citizens have placed high hopes on the notion that humankind could possibly correct, even erase, genetic deformities or genetic mistakes that lead to chronic diseases such as obesity, diabetes, heart disease even cancer and other life shortening maladies. Others have raised questions and concerns about the future of genomics and genetic manipulation and its possible benefits and consequences, including privacy issues once an individual has been identified with a specific genetic group. The field is ripe for numerous public health, policy, legal and scientific discussions.

This week a select group of legal and scientific experts will gather in a symposium entitled “The Genomics Revolution? Science, Law and Policy ”, sponsored jointly by the LSU Law Center and the Pennington Biomedical Research Center. Leading thinkers and researchers from Duke, Stanford, LSU, Yale, McGill University in Quebec, the Pennington Center, Vanderbilt, among others, will exchange ideas, issues, current research findings and attempt to clarify the current state of public policy, legal issues, social impact, privacy and the impact of genomics on public health.

“These are the men and women who are well versed on the current state of genomic research and on the current state of society's collective feelings and beliefs,” said Pennington spokesman Glen Duncan. “Who better to invite here to lead the discussion? As a community, we see the daily the effect of deadly, inherited diseases and defects. We also understand the need to explore all aspects of new discoveries and where they may lead us as a society. That's what this gethering is all about.”

The symposium runs from Wednesday through Friday in the Claude Pennington Conference Center on the campus of the Pennington Biomedical Research Center.

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The Pennington Biomedical Research Center is at the forefront of medical discovery as it relates to understanding the causes of obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, cancer and dementia. Itis a campus of the Louisiana State University System and conducts basic, clinical and population research. The research enterprise at the Center includes approximately 80 faculty and more than 25 post-doctoral fellows who comprise a network of 50 laboratories supported by lab technicians, nurses, dieticians, and support personnel, and 19 highly specialized core service facilities.  The Center's more than 500 employees perform research activities in state-of-the-art facilities on the 234-acre campus located in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.