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Thursday, April 12th, 2018 - Friday, April 13th

Henry Beecher, Brain Death, and the Future of Organ Transplantation: A celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Harvard Report

Boston, MA, United States

The Harvard Medical School Center for Bioethics Annual Bioethics Conference will explore the historical legacy of the 1968 Beecher report from the Harvard Medical
School Committee that proposed the concept of “brain death” as a new criterion for determining human
death, thereby making it possible to procure “living” organs from bodies deemed to be “dead.” We will
examine how this report facilitated the development of organ transplantation, and provide an up-to-
date assessment of current practice. We will also explore the persistent controversies that have
challenged the scientific and philosophical foundations of this concept, and examine alternative
strategies for facilitating the ethical procurement of organs for transplantation. Finally, we will look to
the future, and consider the potential impact of new technologies, such as gene editing and 3-D printing,
that could radically alter the relevance of brain death as a concept necessary for organ procurement.

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