This is an archived article.

May 7, 1999

School of Nursing’s 20th Soule Lecture focuses on ethical challenges posed by genetics testing

Deciphering the human genome and the increasing availability of genetic testing raise ethical, legal and social challenges. The University of Washington School of Nursing will address these challenges when it hosts the 20th annual Elizabeth Sterling Soule Lecture at 4 p.m. Thursday, May 27, in Kane Hall, room 210, on the UW campus. The Soule Lecture is named for the founding dean of nursing.

Dr. Barbara A. Koenig, executive director and senior research scholar at the Stanford University Center for Biomedical Ethics, is the guest lecturer. Her topic is “Examining Genomics: The Transformed Meaning of ‘Risk,’ ‘Race’ and Individual ‘Responsibility’ in the New Molecular Medicine.”

Koenig, who holds degrees in history, nursing and medical anthropology, also established and is co-director of the Stanford Program in Genomics, Ethics and Society, which studies the clinical challenges raised by molecular genetics research. The program has analyzed the implications of DNA testing for breast cancer genes BRCA1 and BRCA2 and for susceptibility to Alzheimer’s disease.

The lecture will be followed by a panel discussion of the benefits, burdens and risks of genetic testing, emphasizing the importance of educational programs and skilled genetics counseling.

Panel moderator is Dr. Susanna L. Cunningham, associate professor of biobehavioral nursing and health systems. Panelists are Dr. Melissa A. Austin, director of the Public Health Genetics Program based in the UW School of Public Health and Community Medicine, and Dr. Deborah Bowen, associate member of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center and UW associate professor of health services.

“Dramatic changes have occurred in health care and its delivery since Dean Soule taught the first nursing course at the University of Washington in 1918,” said Dr. Nancy Woods, current dean of nursing who will introduce the speaker and panelists. “Today’s health care professionals face many new challenges caused by advances in science, the explosion in technology, and changes in demographics and health care economics.”

The lecture and panel discussion will be followed by a reception. The events are complimentary, but reservations should be made by May 17. Call (206) 543-3019 or email howeiler@u.washington.edu.