NYU Center for Bioethics Lunchtime Lecture Series
Should Parents be Allowed to Map the Genome of Their Fetus?: Ethical Reflections on the Future of Prenatal Testing
Prof. Vardit Ravitsky, Ph.D.
Monday, Feb. 27th, 2017 12:30-2pm
Kimmel Center for University Life Rm 405 60 Washington Sq S New York, NY 10012
Non-Invasive Prenatal Testing (NIPT) is a new technology that allows genetic testing of a fetus with a simple maternal blood test, by isolating cell-free fetal DNA in the mother’s plasma. Introduced in 2011, it is now available globally, its cost is declining, and the number of conditions it can test for is increasing. Technically, this technology can be used to sequence the entire genome of a fetus early in the first trimester of pregnancy. Should this use of prenatal testing be banned? Limited? Offered? Encouraged? Covered by insurance? This talk will explore some ethical implications of this possibility. It will focus on reproductive autonomy and the transition from ‘knowledge is power’ to ‘knowledge is vulnerability’ in the context of informed choice.
Vardit Ravitsky, PhD, is Associate Professor at the Bioethics Programs within the Department of Social and Preventive Medicine of the School of Public Health at the University of Montreal. She is also Director of the Ethics and Health Branch of the CRE, an interuniversity research center in ethics. Prof. Ravitsky’s research focuses on reproductive ethics and the ethical aspects of genetic and genomics. Her research interests in bioethics also include health policy and cultural perspectives. She is particularly interested in the various ways in which cultural frameworks shape public debate and public policy in the area of bioethics. Her research projects are funded by CIHR, FRQSC, SSHRC, and Genome Canada. She published over 100 articles, book chapters and commentaries on bioethical issues, and is lead-editor of “The Penn Center Guide to Bioethics”.
Born and raised in Jerusalem, Ravitsky brings international perspectives to her research and teaching. She holds a BA in philosophy from the Sorbonne University in Paris, an MA in philosophy (with a specialization in bioethics) from the University of New Mexico in the US, and a PhD in philosophy (with a specialization in bioethics) from Bar-Ilan University in Israel. She was a post-doctoral fellow at the Department of Bioethics of the NIH and at the National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI).
Ravitsky is an elected Board member and Treasurer of the International Association of Bioethics (IAB). She is a member of Canadian Institutes of Health Research (the ‘Canadian NIH’) Standing Committee on Ethics. She is also member of the University of Montreal’s Public Health Research Institute (IRSPUM), the Quebec Reproduction Network (RQR), and of the Canadian Fertility and Andrology Society (CFAS). Previously, she was faculty at the Department of Medical Ethics, School of Medicine, at the University of Pennsylvania. She was also a Senior Policy Advisor at CIHR’s Ethics Office and a GE3LS consultant to Genome Canada.