(Philadelphia, PA) - The Center for Bioethics
at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine
today announced the beginning of an 18-month project to examine
the field of vaccine development and use, and propose an ethical
framework to help guide researchers, pharmaceutical companies, public-health
agencies, health-care providers, and citizens regarding vaccines
and their safe, effective, and ethical use.
A team of leading physicians, public-health officials, academics
from the University of Pennsylvania and other leading institutions,
media representatives, and others are beginning deliberations to
lay the groundwork for the project.
“Just as Hurricane Katrina uncovered a number of very unacceptable
realities associated with our nation’s preparedness and our
response to the poorest of our citizens, the prospect of an avian
flu pandemic - and it is still a prospect - is bringing
into sharp focus where we need to prioritize our energies in terms
of the ethics around the role of vaccine in global public health,”
said Arthur Caplan, PhD, Director of Penn’s
Center for Bioethics and Chair of the Department of Medical Ethics
at the medical school.
To that end, the Ethics of Vaccines Project has assembled a very
strong team of experts from the academic, governmental, and private-sector
communities to provide an in-depth examination of the issues. “Our
goal is to develop a robust ethical framework to help move this
area of our public-health infrastructure forward,” noted Caplan.
The record of accomplishment in the vaccines field is extraordinary
- and vaccines will obviously continue to play a significant role
in reducing or eliminating infectious disease globally. “But
the headlines, editorials, and talk-show analyses on the ‘avian
flu pandemic’ underscores the long-overdue need to develop
a supporting and coherent ethics framework around vaccines,”
said Caplan. “After monitoring the global vaccines field for
the last year, Penn’s Center for Bioethics received initial
funding to launch a series of interdisciplinary seminars to engage
the issues around the ethics of vaccines.”
For more information about the Ethics of Vaccine Project sponsored
by Penn’s Center for Bioethics, visit http://www.bioethics.upenn.edu/vaccines/?pageId=1.
PENN Medicine is a $2.7 billion enterprise
dedicated to the related missions of medical education, biomedical
research, and high-quality patient care. PENN Medicine consists
of the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine (founded in
1765 as the nation's first medical school) and the University of
Pennsylvania Health System.
Penn’s School of Medicine is ranked #2 in the nation
for receipt of NIH research funds; and ranked #4 in the nation in
U.S. News & World Report’s most recent ranking of top
research-oriented medical schools. Supporting 1,400 fulltime faculty
and 700 students, the School of Medicine is recognized worldwide
for its superior education and training of the next generation of
physician-scientists and leaders of academic medicine.
The University of Pennsylvania Health System comprises: its
flagship hospital, the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania,
consistently rated one of the nation’s “Honor Roll”
hospitals by U.S. News & World Report; Pennsylvania Hospital,
the nation's first hospital; Penn Presbyterian Medical Center; a
faculty practice plan; a primary-care provider network; two multispecialty
satellite facilities; and home health care and hospice.