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December 18, 2001

Penn Graduate Student Receives Prestigious Association for Politics and Life Sciences Award

Award-winning paper published in the American Journal of Bioethics

(Philadelphia, PA) -- Andrea D. Gurmankin, a graduate student in the Masters of Bioethics (MBe) program and the doctoral program in Psychology at the University of Pennsylvania has been awarded the coveted Association for Politics and Life Sciences Graduate Student Paper Award for the year 2001. Titled Risk Information Provided to Prospective Oocyte Donors, the paper investigated the quality of risk information provided to prospective egg donors via preliminary phone calls made by in-vitro fertilization programs that advertise in college newspapers. The study was recently published in the American Journal of Bioethics (AJOB), published by Penn's Center for Bioethics and MIT Press.

Gurmankin's interest in in-vitro fertilization and informed consent issues has been nurtured by her participation in the bioethics program at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine. This project -- born out of a class requirement -- came about because she was troubled by the combination of enormous monetary incentives offered to prospective egg donors and the egg donation programs' incentive to minimize risks in the interest of recruiting much-needed donors. "This combination increases the difficulty for egg donors to give fully voluntary, informed consent, something to which these women are entitled, " states Gurmankin. "This issue is too important to be ignored."

"Andy's study is path-breaking research - controversial because it involves deception, but important because it is the first look at what really happens when vulnerable women become part of the egg recruitment world." states Glenn McGee, PhD, associate director of education at the Center for Bioethics and editor-in-chief of AJOB.

The Association for Politics and the Life Sciences annually awards a prize for the best paper written by a graduate student on a topic related to public policy or politics and one of the life sciences. The recipient gains a cash prize of $500, recognition at the association's annual meeting, and publication in Politics and Life Sciences, the association's journal. Her involvement in the doctoral program in psychology reflects Gurmankin's belief that psychological research can provide enormous insight into bioethical issues by helping the public understand both how ethical dilemmas affect the parties involved -- and how the proposed solutions to these dilemmas may also have an affect.

Gurmankin's first exposure to the Center for Bioethics was as a summer intern 1996, while attending Cornell University. She received her bachelors degree in 1999 and is presently pursuing a Masters degree in Bioethics and a doctorate in Psychology at Penn. She continues to work at the Center as a research assistant.

Penn's Master's Program in Bioethics (MBe) -- one of the first graduate programs of its kind in the world, is offered by the School of Arts and Sciences in cooperation with the Center of Bioethics in the School of Medicine. Students take courses from a variety of areas, including philosophy, sociology, history, public policy, and law. In addition, each student completes either an internship where he/she is exposed to bioethics in a clinical setting, or in a research project working with Penn faculty.

The Association for Politics and the Life Sciences (APLS) -- founded in 1980 -- is an international and interdisciplinary association of scholars, scientists, and policymakers concerned with issues that center around politics, public policy and the life sciences.

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