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Consortium Receives National Cancer Institute Grant

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Susan Wolf, Chair of the Consortium


The Consortium on Law and Values in Health, Environment & the Life Sciences and Mayo Clinic received an award this week from the National Cancer Institute (NCI) at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) for a project on "Disclosing Genomic Incidental Findings in a Cancer Biobank." The five-year, $2.4 million project is a partnership between the Consortium and Mayo Clinic.

"This is the first NIH project looking at the ethical and legal dimensions of returning incidental findings to family members of research participants," said Professor Susan Wolf, chair of the Consortium on Law and Values and one of three Principal Investigators. The other PIs are Professors Gloria Peterson of Mayo Clinic and Barbara Koenig of University of California, San Francisco. The context is Mayo’s NCI-funded pancreatic cancer biobank. Because median survival from diagnosis of pancreatic cancer remains under one year, the question of whether to withhold or offer genetic research findings to family members after the patient’s death is pressing. The Consortium will lead analysis of the legal and ethical questions.

This is the Consortium's third NIH-funded project on the controversial question of whether to return genetic and genomic incidental findings to research participants and, now, their families. Last spring, the Consortium hosted a groundbreaking conference on these issues in Bethesda, MD, with high-level NIH participation. For more information on this conference, visit www.lifesci.consortium.umn.edu/conferences/2011_ifbb.

For more information about the Consortium on Law and Values and to learn more about its research, go to www.lifesci.consortium.umn.edu.