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Bioethics for Journalists

Genomics, Human Behavior, and Social Outcomes


Genomics, Human Behavior, and Social Outcomes • October 12, 2021

This is the first in a series "Genomics in Society: New Developments, New Questions: Discussions with Journalists" hosted by Hastings Center, in partnership with the Center for ELSI Resources & Analysis (CERA) of four online discussions to inform journalists about the ethical, legal, and social implications (ELSI) of new research in genomics; discuss story ideas on genomics and its ELSI issues; and connect journalists and ELSI experts and resources. 

New research on genomic influences on human traits such as intelligence, educational attainment, household income, and sexual behavior is newsworthy and of high public interest. But covering the research findings can be a minefield. The findings are prone to misinterpretation and misunderstanding. And they are already being misused by individuals and groups seeking to justify racist and other biases. The need for responsible journalism about genomics research is greater than ever. How should scientists and journalists work together to report on the findings of this research to the public?

  • Moderator: Amy Harmon, Pulitzer prize-winning journalist at the New York Times covering the intersection of science and society.
  • Panelist: Erik Parens, a principal investigator of  “Wrestling with Social and Behavioral Genomics” and a senior research scholar at The Hastings Center
  • Panelist: Melinda Mills, a genetic scientist at the Sociogenome Project and director of the Leverhulme Centre for Demographic Science (LCDS), University of Oxford
  • Panelist: Arbel Harpak, Assistant Professor of Population Health and Integrative Biology at the University of Texas at Austin

Please see links to the transcript and associated resources for this talk in the upper right corner of the page.

Related events

Beginning in 2021, The Hastings Center will offer an annual “bioethics for journalists” discussion series. It is supported by the Callahan Public Programs, named in honor of Daniel Callahan, co-founder of The Hastings Center. Each year, Hastings will join forces with a prominent partner to bring the most cutting-edge ethical issues in science and health to journalists.


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