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The White House
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release

President Obama Establishes New Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues, Names Commission Leadership

WASHINGTON – Today, President Barack Obama signed an Executive Order creating a new Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues.  He also announced today he has appointed Amy Gutmann to serve as Chair and James W. Wagner to serve as Vice Chair of the Commission.

President Obama said, “As our nation invests in science and innovation and pursues advances in biomedical research and health care, it’s imperative that we do so in a responsible manner.  This new Commission will develop its recommendations through practical and policy-related analyses.  I am confident that Amy and Jim will use their decades of experience in both ethics and science to guide the new Commission in this work, and I look forward to listening to their recommendations in the coming months and years.”

The President’s Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues will advise the President on bioethical issues that may emerge from advances in biomedicine and related areas of science and technology.  The Commission will work with the goal of identifying and promoting policies and practices that ensure scientific research, health care delivery, and technological innovation are conducted in an ethically responsible manner.  The full Executive Order is attached.

President Obama also announced that he will appoint the following individuals to the Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues:

Amy Gutmann, Chair, Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues
Dr. Amy Gutmann – a distinguished political scientist, philosopher, and scholar of ethics and public policy – currently serves as president of the University of Pennsylvania.  She is also the Christopher H. Browne Distinguished Professor of Political Science in the School of Arts and Sciences and holds secondary appointments in communications, education, and philosophy.  Prior to her appointment as the University of Pennsylvania’s president in 2004, Dr. Gutmann served as Provost at Princeton University, where she was also the Laurance S. Rockefeller University Professor of Politics.  At Princeton, she was the founding Director of the University Center for Human Values – a leading multi-disciplinary center that fosters greater research and discourse on ethics and human values.  Dr. Gutmann has authored and edited 15 books and has published more than 100 articles, essays, and book chapters.  She is a founding member of the Association of Practical and Professional Ethics, and serves on the Board of Directors of the Carnegie Corporation of New York, the Vanguard Corporation, and the Board of Trustees of the National Constitution Center.  She received her B.A. magna cum laude from Harvard-Radcliffe College, M.Sc. from the London School of Economics, and Ph.D. from Harvard University.

James W. Wagner, Vice Chair, Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues
James W. Wagner currently serves as the President of Emory University, where he has championed the role of ethics in the mission of the University by significantly enhancing the prominence of Emory’s university-wide Center for Ethics and including ethical engagement as one of the six pillars of the University’s strategic vision.  Dr. Wagner previously served as Provost, University Vice President, and Interim President of Case Western Reserve University. Prior to that, he was Dean and Professor of Materials Science at the Case School of Engineering from 1998 to 2000.  His academic career began at The Johns Hopkins University’s Whiting School of Engineering as Professor of Materials Science and Engineering with a secondary appointment in Biomedical Engineering.  He ultimately chaired the Johns Hopkins Department of Materials Sciences and Engineering.  Before becoming a professor, Dr. Wagner worked for nearly a decade as a researcher for the Food and Drug Administration Center for Devices and Radiological Health where he developed quality-assurance methods and performed failure analyses on medical devices.  Dr. Wagner has authored more than 115 professional publications, and was elected a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2009.  He holds a B.A. in electrical engineering from the University of Delaware, an M.A. in clinical engineering from The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, and a Ph.D. in materials science and engineering from The Johns Hopkins University Whiting School of Engineering.