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Department of Communications/
News Bureau
22 Davis Hall, 10 Lippitt Road, Kingston, RI 0288
Phone: 401-874-2116 Fax: 401-874-7872

URI’s Honors Colloquium to focus on genetic technology

Speakers include Christopher Reeve, Barry Scheck, Oliver Sacks

KINGSTON, R.I. -- August 9, 2002 -- The University of Rhode Island will kick off its annual fall honors colloquium entitled "Genetic Technology and Public Policy in the New Millennium" next month. Some of the country’s foremost authorities on the subject, including such well-known personalities as Christopher Reeve, Barry Scheck, and Oliver Sacks, will participate.

The semester-long series of public events, coordinated by Lynn Pasquerella, philosophy professor, and Lawrence Rothstein, professor of political science and labor research, is designed to provoke thoughtful reflection on the ever-expanding complexities of genetic technology.

The unlocking of the human genome promises unlimited potential for technological advances in the biomedical sciences. In fact, many scientists believe the genetic revolution could hold the answer to some of our biggest hopes such as the cure for cancer, diabetes, spinal cord injuries, Parkinson’s disease, and heart disease.

But it also plumbs our largest fears with concerns about human clones, invasion of privacy, and discrimination based on genetic information.
George Annas (l), Edward R. Utley professor and chair of the Health Law Department at Boston University School of Public Health and professor in the Boston University School of Medicine and School of Law, will open the series when he delivers URI’s convocation address on Sept. 12. Annas is a noted bioethicist and co-founder of Global Lawyers and Physicians, a professional association working to promote human rights and health.
Actor and activist Christopher Reeve (left) will participate in a panel discussion on stem cell research ethics and public policy, and Barry Scheck, best known for his role on the O.J. Simpson defense team, will touch upon the "Innocence Project. " Scheck helped create the project to provide legal assistance to inmates challenging their convictions based on DNA and has represented or assisted in more than 100 cases where convictions were reversed or overturned.
Physician and writer Oliver Sacks (right) whose work was brought to the world’s attention in the movie Awakenings and through his bestseller, The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat, will speak on the neurological basis of identity.

A panel of Rhode Island public officials led by Patricia Nolan, director of the Rhode Island Department of Health, will lead a discussion on the question "How should the state and federal government respond to the genetics revolution?" Distinguished journalists from The New York Times, The Washington Post, and The Providence Journal, will discuss the social and ethical issues they confront reporting developments of genetic technology to the general public.

A companion art exhibit curated by URI’s Judith Tolnick and a staged reading of Twilight of the Golds, directed by Steven Pennell, artist-in-residence at the URI Providence Campus, rounds out the series.

Most programs will take place at URI’s main campus in Kingston on Tuesday evenings in the Barry Marks Auditorium, Room 271, Chafee Social Science Center from 7 to 8:30 p.m.

Major sponsors for the series are the University of Rhode Island Honors Program, The Providence Journal, The URI Foundation, Theta Chi Fraternity, the Rhode Island Committee for the Humanities, the Joan Irvine Smith and Athalie R. Clarke Foundation, and the President’s Office. Additional sponsors include URI’s Offices of the Provost and the dean of Arts and Sciences, College of Nursing, Multicultural Center, Student Entertainment Committee, the John Hazen White Sr. Center for Ethics and Public Service, the URI Alumni Association and Matritech.

For a full schedule of events, click on or call Jan Wenzel at

For Information: Jan Wenzel, 401-874-2116

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