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2007 Stem Cell Ethics Conference


Fordham University's Center for Ethics Education
Interdisciplinary Conference

Embryonic Stem Cell Research: 

Moral Questions for the 21st Century

April 17, 2007
9:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

Fordham University Lincoln Center Campus
113 West 60th Street, NYC
McNally Amphitheatre



The Curran Center for American Catholic Studies

The Fordham Natural Law Colloquium

   Conference Agenda
   Speaker Bios
   About the Sponsors and the Center's Degree Programs

Conference Agenda
8:30 a.m. Registration
9:00-9:15 a.m.
Welcome Address
  Prof. Celia B. Fisher, Ph.D.
  Marie Ward Doty Professor of Psychology
  Director, Center for Ethics Education
9:15-10:20 a.m.
Session I:  Embryonic Stem Cell Research:  What is the State of the Science?
Prof. Celia B. Fisher, Ph.D.
Marie Ward Doty Professor of Psychology
Director, Fordham Center for Ethics Education
  Biological Foundations of Stem Cell Research
Melissa A. Henrikson, Ph.D.
Clare Boothe Luce Assistant Professor
Department of Biological Sciences, Fordham University 

What distinguishes embryonic stem cells from adult stem cells? What research procedures are used?

View Dr. Henrickson's PowerPoint Presentation
  The New Stem Cell Debates
David C. Magnus, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Pediatrics and Medicine,
Stanford University
Director, Stanford Center for Biomedical Ethics

What are the medical benefits and risks? What are the economic concerns?

View Dr. Magnus's PowerPoint Presentation

  Stem Cell Medicine: A Status Report
Stephen S. Hall

Author and Science Journalist
New York Times Magazine, Science Times, Discover

A status report on clinical applications of stem cell therapies, with an assessment of both progress and obstacles that remain. 
10:20-10:30 a.m. Break
10:30-11:30 a.m. Session II: What is the State of the Moral  Question from a Faith Perspective?
Mark Massa, S.J
Karl Rahner Professor of Theology, Fordham University
Co-Director, The Curran Center for American Catholic Studies

The Stem Cell Debate: What’s Faith Got to Do With It?
Richard M. Doerflinger, MA
Deputy Director, Secretariat for Pro-Life Activities
United States Conference of Catholic Bishops

While some claim the embryonic stem cell debate is a face-off between "science" and "religion," it actually involves a tension between two approaches to ethics -- especially the ethics of human experimentation. Faith plays a limited role, immunizing many from the temptations of the utilitarian approach.  Disturbingly, however, the side seeing itself as "pro-science" is exhibiting some aspects of a secular religion.


Stem Cells, Science, and Social Justice
Stephen J. Pope, Ph.D.
Professor, Theological Ethics, Boston College

A discussion of the public perception of the moral significance of scientific research, the future of potential stem cell research, and the urgent need faced by millions of poor people dying from preventable conditions and curable diseases.

11:30-12:30 p.m. Box Lunch

12:30-1:30 p.m.
(1 CLE Credit)

Session III:  What are the Ethical Implications for Human Dignity and Rights?
Michael Baur, Ph.D., J.D.

Adjunct Professor of Law, and Associate Professor of  Philosophy, Fordham University


Stem Cells, Human Dignity, and the Common Good: A Catholic Social Perspective
Christine Firer Hinze, Ph.D.
Professor of Theology, Fordham University

This talk draws on recent work in Catholic social ethics and in theological bioethics, to situate moral debate concerning stem cell research in the wider context of the common good and solidarity with the poor and vulnerable. These principles, I will propose, reveal implications and illumine obligations both for those who advocate and participate in stem cell research, and for those who oppose it.

1:30-1:40 p.m. Break
1:40-2:45 p.m.
(1 CLE Credit)
Session IV: What should be the Role of the State in Restricting or Regulating Embryonic Stem Cell Research?   
Donna M. Gitter, J.D.
Assistant Professor, Legal & Ethical Studies, Fordham University

From Stem Cells to Jail Cells: Funding, Federalism and Fear in the Regulation of Embryonic Stem Cell Research
R. Alta Charo, J.D.
Warren P. Knowles Professor of Law & Bioethics,
University of Wisconsin at Madison

A brief survey of state and federal governmental responses to embryonic stem cell research, ranging from positive funding to enhanced protection of research subjects to outright criminalization, accompanied by comments on the constitutional constraints on governmental action, both state and federal, in this area of science policy.


Taking Moral Diversity Seriously: Why There Should Not Be State Funding of Human Embryonic Stem Cell Research
H. Tristram Engelhardt, Ph.D.
Professor of Philosophy, Rice University

This presentation explores the challenge of framing health care policy in significantly morally controversial areas such as human embryonic stem-cell research.  It is argued that the depth of the moral disagreements in this area and the limits of the moral authority of secular democracies require withholding funds taken by taxes. 

2:45-3:30 p.m. Summing Up: Embryonic Stem Cell Research in the 21st Century
Celia Fisher, Ph.D.
Marie Ward Doty Professor of Psychology, Fordham University
Director, Fordham University Center for Ethics Education

        Discussion among presenters and audience questions


Speaker Biographies

R. Alta Charo
is the Warren P. Knowles Professor of Law and Bioethics at the University of Wisconsin at Madison. She is author of nearly 100 articles, book chapters and government reports on topics including medical genetics law, science policy and research ethics, and in 2006 was appointed co-chair of the National Academies’ Human Embryonic Stem Cell Research Advisory Committee.

Richard M. Doerflinger, Deputy Director of the Secretariat for Pro-Life Activities, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, has testified before Congress, the National Bioethics Advisory Commission, and the National Institutes of Health on ethical issues involving human embryo research. He has published widely on medical-moral issues, including contributions to the National Catholic Bioethics Quarterly, Kennedy Institute of Ethics Journal, and the American Journal of Bioethics.

H. Tristram Engelhardt, Jr., is Professor of Philosophy at Rice University Department of Philosophy, where his current research interests are explanatory models in medicine, the development of modern concepts of health and disease, and rights and responsibilities in health care. He is also Professor Emeritus, Baylor College of Medicine. Representative publications include: Global Bioethics: The Collapse of Consensus; The Foundations of Christian Bioethics; and The Foundations of Bioethics. Dr. Engelhardt, Jr., serves as the editor of the Journal of Medicine and Philosophy and is Senior Editor of the journal, Christian Bioethics.

Stephen S. Hall, science journalist and author of five books, has been described by the editor of M.I.T.'s Technology Review magazine as "our nation's best chronicler of biomedicine." Specializing in stories about the impact of science on the culture at large, his work has appeared in Science, Discover, the Hastings Center Report, and the New York Times Magazine, where his cover story in 2000 on the science of embryonic stem cell led to his book about the history of stem cell science and regenerative medicine, Merchants of Immortality: Chasing the Dream of Human Life Extension (2003). His most recent book, Size Matters (2006), discusses the biology of human growth, and the medical, psychological, and bioethical implications of physical stature.

Melissa A. Henriksen, is the Clare Boothe Luce Assistant Professor in Biological Sciences at Fordham University. Her laboratory research focuses on mechanisms of gene expression, chromatin biology and epigenetics. Her most recent work has been published in Genes & Development and Proceedings from the National Academy of Sciences USA. 

Christine Firer Hinze, Professor of Theology at Fordham University, is author of Comprehending Power in Christian Social Ethics (1995), and has published extensively on foundational issues in Christian social ethics, Christian feminist ethics, and Catholic social thought in relation to economy, family and work, and social transformation. Her current book project is a Catholic feminist treatment of just work in the 21st century.

Patrick Lee, Professor of Bioethics and Director of the Bioethics Program at Franciscan University of Steubenville, is a graduate of University of Dallas and Niagara University, and received his Ph. D. in philosophy at Marquette University in 1980. Lee’s book, Abortion and Unborn Human Life, was published in 1996. His articles and review essays have appeared in American Journal of Jurisprudence, Bioethics, Faith and Philosophy, Philosophy, and other scholarly journals, as well as popular journals and online magazines. His most recent book (co-authored with Robert P. George) entitled Body-Self Dualism and Contemporary Ethical and Political Issues, Cambridge University Press, is forthcoming. In 2006 Lee received the Cardinal Wright Award for distinguished scholarship and integration of faith and reason from the Fellowship of Catholic Scholars. 

David C. Magnus is Associate Professor of Pediatrics, Medicine, and Philosophy at Stanford University, where he is Director of the Stanford Center for Biomedical Ethics and co-Chair of the Ethics Committee for the Stanford University Hospital and the Lucile Salter Packard Children’s Hospital. He is also Director of the Scholarly Concentration in Biomedical Ethics and Medical Humanities in the School of Medicine. In addition to his scholarly work, Dr. Magnus serves on the state of California’s human Embryonic Stem Cell Advisory Board. 

Stephen J. Pope, Professor of Social Ethics in the Theology Department at Boston College, is author of The Evolution of Altruism and the Ordering of Love, and editor of numerous publications including The Ethics of St. Thomas Aquinas. His most recent work, Human Evolution and Christian Ethics, is scheduled for publication by Cambridge University Press in 2007.

Michael Baur is Associate Professor of Philosophy and Adjunct Professor of Law at Fordham University. His current work focuses primarily on the metaphysical foundations (or presuppositions) of ethical and juridical discourse. Professor Baur serves as the National Secretary of the American Catholic Philosophical Association and of the Hegel Society of America, and is Director of Fordham's Natural Law Colloquium.

Celia B. Fisher is Marie Ward Doty Professor of Psychology and director of the Fordham Center for Ethics Education. With over 100 publications and federal funding for ethics research, Dr. Fisher also chairs the Environmental Protection Agency’s Human Research Subjects Board and has served on the DHHS Secretary’s Advisory Committee on Human Research Protections and chaired American Psychological Association’s Ethics Code Task Force. 

Mark S. Massa, Professor of Theology at Fordham University, is also Co-Director of The Curran Center for American Catholic Studies at Fordham University. Currently working on a history of Catholic theology in the United States since the Second Vatican Council, Dr. Massa has dedicated his past decade of research to the Catholic experience in the U.S. since WWII. His book, Catholics and American Culture: Fulton Sheen, Dorothy Day, and the Notre Dame Football Team, was winner of the AJCU/Alpha Sigma Nu Award for Outstanding Work in Theology for 1999-2001. 


About the Sponsors

The Fordham Center for Ethics Education

The Fordham Center for Ethics Education was created in 1999 to contribute to Fordham’s commitment to cultivating life-long habits of critical thinking, moral reflection, and articulate expression. Drawing upon the Jesuit traditions of Wisdom & Learning and Men and Women for Others and the rich human diversity of New York City, the Center sponsors activities that provide students, faculty, professionals and the public with knowledge and skills to study, inform and shape a just society that nurtures the full-flourishing of peoples of diverse faiths and cultures. Affirming the complementary roles of faith and reason, the Center draws upon theology, philosophy, social and physical science, legal and other areas to provide the multidisciplinary education necessary to advance the common good.

The Cener currently offers two degree-granting programs:

Master of Arts in Ethics and Society. The Master of Arts in Ethics and Society provides students with a cross-disciplinary foundation in the application of moral and ethical theory to social issues.

Graduate Certificate in Health Care Ethics. The Fordham University Advanced Certificate in Health Care Ethics is designed to enhance the student’s understanding of and participation in discourse regarding ethically-relevant policy decisions affecting mental and physical health care treatment and research.



The Francis and Ann Curran Center for American Catholic Studies
Established in 2001, The Francis and Ann Curran Center for American Catholic Studies is an inter-disciplinary center sponsoring a four-fold set of programs: national conferences to which scholars are invited to discuss with each other --- and with various publics --- issues of Catholic belief and culture in the United States; public lectures held at both the Rose Hill and Lincoln Center campuses on a wide range of topics; faculty seminars in the various schools and divisions of the University focusing on issues of religious identity and scholarship, ethics, and the Jesuit/Ignatian tradition of pedagogy; and an undergraduate interdisciplinary concentration open to students of high academic achievement interested in post-baccalaureate fellowships. These events and programs provide an important forum for ecumenical engagement between Catholics and believers from other faith traditions, and for the academic study of broad “faith and culture” questions in the United States. Overall, the Curran Center extends Fordham’s Jesuit tradition of serious intellectual engagement with religious ideas, and its revered commitment to educating “men and women for others.” Contact:


The Fordham Natural Law Colloquium
The Fordham Natural Law Colloquium was inaugurated in the fall of 2000 through the efforts of Fordham alumnus Gene Harper and Fordham Philosophy Department Chair Dominic Balestra. The Colloquium is jointly sponsored by the Law School and the Philosophy Department, and dedicated to encouraging reflection upon "natural law" reasoning in law, politics, and public discourse. The natural law tradition, derived from Aristotle and Aquinas, is an important part of the University's intellectual heritage, and has been central to Fordham's broader mission as a Jesuit institution of higher education. The mission of the Colloquium is to foster critical thinking and collegial debate about the vast array of topics and issues that are relevant to, and that can be addressed through, a natural law perspective. Natural Law Colloquium website.

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