Sept. 10-16, 1999
Vol. 29, Issue 28
Inside UVA Online
the Newsletter for Faculty & Staff at the University of Virginia
Back Issues
Commission backs storage and use of human biological materials
U.Va. gets $4 million cancer grant
Curry School bringing classroom technology to Bermuda
Improvements made for checking children's hearing

From the desk of. . .Tom Gausvik

Hot Links -- slave life
U.Va. Patents Foundation upgrades operations
Making hospitals safer workplaces
A solution for broken hearts
Free guide offered for sexual assault survivors
Conference on health-care ethics Sept. 16-17

Robertson Media Center open house Sept. 17

Johanna Drucker appointed to media studies chair
Newly digitized language lab makes learning a piece of kuchen

Off the Shelf

Benefit concert for Living Wage Campaign


Search all Press Releases/Inside UVA (keyword/s)

Presidential commission backs storage and use of human biological materials

Religious studies professor James Childress, left, shakes hands with President Clinton at a formal White House ceremony. Childress and other members of the National Bioethics Advisory Commission, which Clinton formed in 1995, were there to present one of four reports to the President.

By Rebecca Arrington

when medical procedures take place in hospitals and labs across the country, the biological materials retrieved -- biopsy specimens and organs and tissues removed during surgery -- aren't necessarily discarded. Instead, they may be kept and used for research purposes to increase knowledge about human diseases to better prevent, diagnose and treat them.

The use of such materials for research, however, raises a number of ethical issues. For example, these specimens can reveal clinical and sometimes personal information about individuals. Storage guidelines are also necessary, as there are now more than 282 million specimens of human biological material in laboratories, tissue repositories and health care institutions nationwide.

Such concerns prompted President Clinton in 1995 to establish the National Bioethics Advisory Commission (NBAC), a 17-member group of experts in the fields of law, medicine, public policy and biomedical ethics. Its charge has been to consider the rights and welfare of human research subjects and the management and use of genetic information. U.Va. religious studies professor James Childress is a member of the commission and has chaired its Human Subjects Subcommittee.

The commission solicited views from the science and research community, as well as the public, on the topic of human biological materials storage. In addition to Childress, two other U.Va. faculty members have been involved in the work of NBAC: Jonathan Moreno, professor and director of the Center for Biomedical Ethics, and John Fletcher, professor emeritus of biomedical ethics.

For the commission's report on "Research Involving Human Biological Materials: Ethical Issues and Policy Guidance," delivered to President Clinton last month, NBAC focused on to what extent the existing Federal Policy for the Protection of Human Subjects fully meets its objective in research involving human biological materials. It also examined whether the policy provides clear direction to research sponsors, investigators, Institutional Review Boards (IRBs) and others regarding the ethical manner in which to conduct research using these materials. Full story.

U.Va. gets $4 Million cancer grant

By Suzanne Morris

Aside from skin malignancies, prostate cancer is the most frequently occurring of all cancers. The U.Va. Cancer Center recently received a five-year, $4.2 million grant from the National Cancer Institute (NCI) to study how prostate cancer progresses from a localized, slow-growing tumor to one that develops rapidly.

"While many men live for years with prostate cancer that develops very slowly, in some cases the cancer turns aggressive, growing and spreading quickly," said Michael J. Weber, a microbiologist at U.Va. and principal investigator for the study. "This research seeks to understand how that change occurs. Once we determine that, we hope to prevent malignant progressions from occurring and develop more effective therapies."

The American Cancer Society estimates that approximately 179,300 new prostate cancer cases will be diagnosed in the United States in 1999, and 37,000 American men are expected to die from the disease.

Like all cancers, prostate cancer is a disease of uncontrolled cell growth. Cancer cells grow unpredictably, ignoring the warnings to which other cells respond. Initially, prostate cancer cells require the presence of the male hormone, testosterone; cutting off the supply of testosterone can slow the tumor growth. However, prostate cancer cells eventually develop the ability to grow and spread independent of hormone levels. At this stage, the disease is very difficult to control and treatment options are limited.

The Cancer Center, with 135 staff investigators and more than $35 million in grant funds, aims to bring the benefits of ongoing, highly sophisticated cancer research to clinical cancer treatment. It is one of only 18 facilities in the country designated by NCI as a clinical cancer center with demonstrated excellence in basic and clinical research, as well as the organization and resources necessary to promote interdisciplinary research.

© Copyright 1999 by the Rector and Visitors of the University of Virginia

Managing Editor
Anne Bromley

Online Web Editor
Karen Asher

Staff Writers
Rebecca Arrington
Dan Heuchert
Nancy Hurrelbrinck

Charlotte Crystal
Charles Feigenoff
Suzanne Morris
Melissa Norris
Bill Sublette
Ida Lee Wootten
UVa Home Page UVa Events Calendar Top News UVa Home Page U.Va. Home page U.Va. Events Calendar Top News U.Va. Home page