Published on February 9, 2011 at 6 p.m. by Mary Wimberley  

“The Emergence of Personalized Medicine: Legal, Social and Ethical Implications” will be the topic of a Biotechnology conference hosted by Samford University’s Cumberland School of Law Friday, Feb. 18.

The program, which will begin at 8:50 a.m. and conclude at 3 p.m., is free and open to the public. It will be held in the moot courtroom of Robinson Hall law building.

The symposium will address issues that arise from today’s unprecedented power to guide medical decisions based on knowledge of individual variation in risk of disease and response to treatment. The topic acknowledges that these opportunities to improve health raise new ethical, legal and social issues regarding health care delivery and the use of information.

Program participants represent legal, medical, ethical and research aspects of the topic.

Morning sessions will be led by Bruce R. Korf, genetics department chair and director, Heflin Center for Genome Sciences, University of Alabama at Birmingham; Uta Francke, professor of ethics and pediatrics, Stanford University School of Medicine; Ellen Wright Clayton, co-director of the Center for Biomedical Ethics and Society , Vanderbilt University Medical Center; and health care services and policy researcher Vence Bonham, Jr., an advisor and investigator at the National Human Genome Research Institute and National Institutes of health.

An early afternoon session will be led by biotechnology patent law specialist Andrew W. Torrance, professor at University of Kansas Law School and director of an annual conference, Biolaw: Law at the Frontiers of Biology.

All five speakers will participate in a final discussion that will address points of agreement and points of dispute on the topic.

Sponsors and co-sponsors of the conference are: Cumberland’s Center for Biotechnology, Law and Ethics; Department of Genetics, UAB Medical School; UAB’s Heflin Center of Genomic Science, UAB Center for Clinical and Translational Science, HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology, Huntsville, Ala.; Intellectual Property Society; Women in Law; Black Law Students Association; and the Cumberland Law Review.

For information, contact Biotechnology Center director David Smolin at (205) 726-2418 or email

Samford is a leading Christian university offering undergraduate programs grounded in the liberal arts with an array of nationally recognized graduate and professional schools. Founded in 1841, Samford is the 87th-oldest institution of higher learning in the United States. Samford enrolls 5,791 students from 49 states, Puerto Rico and 16 countries in its 10 academic schools: arts, arts and sciences, business, divinity, education, health professions, law, nursing, pharmacy and public health. Samford fields 17 athletic teams that compete in the tradition-rich Southern Conference and ranks 6th nationally for its Graduation Success Rate among all NCAA Division I schools.