Emory’s Leadership in Neuroethics

By Dr. Karen Rommelfanger, Karl Schmidt, and Sam Rose

 Originally published Spring 2012.

Karen Rommelfanger, PhD, is Assistant Director of the Neuroethics Program, a Fellow in the Scholars Program in Interdisciplinary Neuroscience Research (SPINR), and an alumnus of the Emory Neuroscience program (2007).
Karen Rommelfanger, PhD, is Assistant Director of the Neuroethics Program, a Fellow in the Scholars Program in Interdisciplinary Neuroscience Research (SPINR), and an alumnus of the Emory Neuroscience program (2007).

Why is neuroethics important? We find ourselves at a pivotal historical moment. Neuroscience has officially entered new territory, poised to transform every aspect of our lives from our legal and healthcare systems to what it means to have a human experience. The field of neuroethics addresses those thorny ethical issues that arise as we integrate rapidly advancing neurotechnologies and neuroscience findings into our everyday lives. Neuroethics is a field that engages and invites a conversation of topics that fall at the intersection of neuroscience, society, and ethics.

Currently, there are only a handful of top universities in the world that specialize in neuroethics. The Center for Ethics, in partnership with the Neuroscience Initiative, launched a drive to establish the country’s premier Neuroethics Program this fall 2011 (ethics.emory.edu/neuroethics).

Karl Schmidt and Sam Rose are second-year graduate students in the Emory Neuroscience program.
Karl Schmidt and Sam Rose are second-year graduate students in the Emory Neuroscience program.

Naturally, neuroscientists should be leading voices in neuroethics discourse. The Director of the Graduate Neuroscience Program Dr. Yoland Smith, in partnership with the Center for Ethics Neuroethics Program, has been a driving force in getting Emory neuroscientists involved in neuroethics. The neuroscience graduate program, Yerkes, the Scholars Program in Interdisciplinary Neuroscience Research, and the Center for Ethics have also partnered to host a number for symposia including the Neuroscience and Ethics Award and Neuroethics Student Symposium.

How can you get involved? Contact us at neuroethics@emory.edu or on Facebook.

Neuroethics Journal Club: The Center for Ethics Neuroethics Program has recently partnered with the Scholars Program in Interdisciplinary Neuroscience research to continue our successful Neuroethics Journal Club series.  The club’s diverse roster of attendees feature graduate students and faculty from virtually every department on the Emory campus as well as from local universities. Neuroscience graduate students represent a strong voice in these spirited discussions and third-year student David Nicholson regularly summarizes these meetings on The Neuroethics Blog. These meetings are the 4th Wednesday of every month and lunch is provided.

The Neuroethics Scholars Program: This program awards $4000 stipends for 2 exceptional projects in neuroethics research, teaching, or new media. Watch for the next call in late Spring 2012 here: ethics.emory.edu/neuroethics or join the listserv.

The Neuroethics Blog: Hosted by the Center for Ethics, this blog features invited authors to discuss current topics that fall at the intersection of neuroscience, society, and ethics. Many current invited authors are graduate students in neuroscience at Emory and other national universities. See a sample entry in this issue of the newsletter by Kevin Fomalont. Comments on the post can be shared here:

http://theneuroethicsblog.blogspot.com

Neuroethics Student Symposia: The Neuroscience program’s PhD students have partnered with the Center for Ethics Neuroethics Program in a number of joint symposia over the past years. Second-year students Karl Schmidt and Sam Rose are organizers of an exciting upcoming symposium, “The Truth about Lies: the Neuroscience, Law, and Ethics of Lie Detection Technologies,” which explores the use of fMRI and other lie detection technologies in the courtroom. Drs. Hank Greely, Director of the Center for Law and Biosciences at Stanford Law School; Daniel Langleben, a Professor of Psychiatry at University of Pennsylvania and pioneer of using fMRI lie detection; Steven Laken, founder, president, and CEO of Cephos, a company that markets the use of fMRI for courtroom lie detection will be providing their expertise on the topic through a series of talks culminating in a roundtable discussion.  Please mark your calendars for 1pm-5pm, May 25th, 2012 for this thought-provoking event.

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