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Posted March 9, 2010

Professors Participate in TV Series on Genetics, Ethics and the Law

Gil Siegal

Several University of Virginia Law and Medical School professors produced a six-part television series, “Genetics, Ethics and the Law,” that will air on Charlottesville Public Access television in the coming weeks.

Hosted by Law School Professor Gil Siegal, the series features academics and practicing healthcare professionals discussing the ethical, legal and social aspects of modern genetics.

“Modern genetics creates a fascinating mixture of innovative research and development, science, high-tech medicine and social, ethical and legal dilemmas,” Siegal said. “The public awaits clearer definitions of where we are and where we are heading.”

The first episode, on genetic counseling, will be broadcast tonight at 5:30 p.m. on Channel 13 (CPA-TV), and again on March 16. A new episode in the series will air every two weeks. The second episode will be broadcast at the same time on March 23.

In the first episode, the show depicts a counseling session with a pediatrics genetics counselor and a couple. After the demonstration, the counselor, Logan Karnes, and Professors Gil Siegal and Lois Shepherd discuss ethical norms and questions raised by the session, such as nonmedical sex selection and access to sophisticated genetic tests.

Other episodes cover topics on (in order of air time) gene patents and gene therapy, direct-to-consumer genetic testing, the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act and stem cells and cloning.

Participants include Mani Mahadevan, a leading gene therapy researcher at UVA; Rodney L. Sparks of the UVA Patent Foundation; Lawrence Silverman, director of molecular diagnostics at UVA; Law School Professor Mimi Riley; Bill Wilson, head of Medical Genetics at UVA and Shayne Peirce-Cottler, a researcher from Biomedical Engineering at UVA.