Friday, December 5, 2008

Georgia State Law Professor Appointed to CDC Ethics Subcommittee

If a pandemic flu fills hospital beds and ventilators become scarce, who gets first priority? Should individuals with certain kinds of diseases be prevented from traveling, even if their condition is managed by medication and they pose no risk to others?

When the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention seeks answers to these and other ethical questions, it turns to its Advisory Committee to the Director and that committee’s subcommittee on ethics.

Georgia State University Associate Law Professor Leslie Wolf is the subcommittee’s newest member, and says the CDC is trying to think through these scenarios ahead of time so they’re prepared if the need arises.

“The idea is to give helpful guidance to people who are going to have to make these decisions,” Wolf said.

In general, the subcommittee is tasked with exploring ethical dilemmas in public health and making recommendations to the Advisory Committee to the Director, Julie Gerberding.

The subcommittee is made up of 11 members from across the country who serve four-year terms. Its members include well-known philosophers, public health professionals, doctors and medical ethicists who meet three times per year.

Wolf, who joined the College of Law in 2007 as a faculty member of the Center for Law, Health & Society, taught medical ethics and research ethics at the University of California, San Francisco. She served on the UCSF institutional review board and the advisory committee on stem cell research.

She said she hopes to translate her experience with the CDC’s ethics subcommittee to her work in the classroom.

“It’s a remarkable honor,” Wolf said. “I think it’s going to be a lot of fun to work on some really interesting and challenging issues.”

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