In the world of medical research, informed consent is a central component when collecting samples that are intended for research. Consent forms are used to document subjects’ agreement to the research, and must contain a language that patients with no scientific knowledge can understand. For studies involving the use of biological samples, subjects must agree to the collection and use described in the consent form. However, what happens to samples that have been banked? Throughout the country there are banked human subject samples that have the potential to advance research for a wide variety of diseases, but this research may not have been described in the original consent form. Is it right to use previously banked samples for these purposes when the donor did not explicitly agree to them? A close evaluation of the novel The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot and interviews with leading experts in this area may help to guide individuals to new conclusions and ethical approaches to this issue.
PROJECT: Ethical Dilemmas Posed by the Use of Banked Samples and Their Effect on Genomic Research
Mentor: Andrea Saltzman, Human Subjects Compliance Manager
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