March 28, 2008

Conference to explore genomics, religion

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The Gatlin Brothers, from left, Steve, Larry and Rudy.

Conference to explore genomics, religion

The intersection of genomic medicine and religion will be explored during a three-day conference next month at Vanderbilt University.

“Religion and Genomics: Navigating Pathways and Perspectives of Patient Care” will feature nationally known experts in genetics, ethics, sociology and religion.

The conference will begin April 2 with a lecture by Ruth Schwartz Cowan, Ph.D., professor of History and Sociology of Science at the University of Pennsylvania.

Cowan will explain how faith-based communities have come to terms, ethically, with genetic screening — even when it is mandated and even when the communities are opposed to abortion.

Her lecture, entitled “Heredity and Hope,” will begin at 7 p.m. in the Vanderbilt Law School's Flynn Auditorium. It will be preceded by a reception at 6 p.m. Both the reception and the lecture are free and open to the public.

Registration is required for the remainder of the conference, which will be held April 3-4 in the Student Life Center.

Speakers from Vanderbilt and around the country will explore the role religion plays in the responses of patients, families, clinicians and clergy to genetic information; how health care professionals should respond to religious concerns that arise from patients' — or their own — belief systems; and what resources are available assist to help patients, clinicians and clergy.

Speakers include Gail Geller, Sc.D., professor of Pediatrics and Health Policy & Management at Johns Hopkins University, who has written extensively about the ethical and psychosocial implications of the Human Genome Project; and B. Andrew Lustig, Ph.D., professor of Religion at Davidson College, who formerly directed Rice University's Program on Biotechnology, Religion, and Ethics.

For more information or to register, visit the conference Web site at, or contact Joe Fanning at 322-4292 or