One of the most important functions of the Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues (Bioethics Commission) is to work transparently as it deliberates the difficult issues before it. Another important function of the Bioethics Commission is to help educate the nation about bioethics. As a part of this effort the Bioethics Commission has developed several videos, posted to the Commission’s YouTube Channel, that help answer basic questions about the Commission and its work.
Its most recent video, “Challenging Topics for the Bioethics Commission” – posted this week – highlights some of the topics that the Bioethics Commission has addressed. None of the ethical questions considered by the Commission are easy, but Members identified several that presented particularly difficult questions. From synthetic biology and emerging technologies to pediatric medical countermeasure research and protecting participants in human subjects research, Members remember the specific challenges they faced while deliberating recommendations on these critical issues. The video underscores the important role the Commission plays in providing guidance on some of the most exigent issues in science, medicine, and technology today.
In “The Role of a Presidential Bioethics Commission,” Members discuss why the Commission is important and how it can be helpful to healthcare providers, scientists, and researchers but also to the general public. “We are living at a time where great advances in biomedicine are just essential to the future of the health of our society and the well-being of people around the world,” Commission Chair, Amy Gutmann, Ph.D., says in the video. “The only way we are going to make those advances is ethically. If we don’t do it ethically, they won’t be advances.”
In a third piece posted to YouTube Gutmann explains, “One of the things we do as a Commission is make recommendations to the government, but another thing we are doing is actually putting our resources into developing educational materials that every high school and every university in this country can use.” The video, “Promoting and Providing Materials for Bioethics Education” elaborates on this commitment as Members discuss the specific educational materials that the Commission has developed promoting bioethics education in traditional and nontraditional settings. “These [ethical] questions are not simple ones for isolated people working in ivory towers,” explains Member Daniel Sulmasy, M.D., Ph.D. “They are for everybody, which is why the Commission’s efforts at education are so important.”
“In addition to the Commission’s report-based education modules that we have developed, the videos themselves are another tool that we hope educators and students will use in any and all settings where they might have need to explore who this Commission is, what it does, and how its Members arrive at the recommendations they make as they offer non-binding advice to the Administration and the country as a whole,” said Hillary Wicai Viers, Commission Communications Director.
The Bioethics Commission is working on additional videos. One upcoming piece to be released later this week explores how this Bioethics Commission works – through a public process called democratic deliberation.
For these videos and more please check the Bioethics YouTube Channel and follow us on twitter, @bioethicsgov.