The University Record, December 3, 2001

Collins will address ‘braving new world’

By Colleen Newvine
News and Information Services

Collins in June at the Medical School graduation. (Photo by Paul Jaronski, U-M Photo Services)
Francis Collins, director of the National Human Genome Research Institute, will be the keynote speaker Dec. 7 at the Wiesner Symposium, “Braving the New World: Benefits and Challenges of Genetic Knowledge.”

As director of the National Human Genome Research Institute, Collins leads the federal government’s effort to construct a detailed map of the complete set of human genes.

During a day-long symposium, Collins and a group of leading scholars will discuss the ways in which our growing ability to understand the human genome is dramatically altering the landscape of biological science, medicine and health. They will examine the effects genetics research will have on social organization, whether the meaning of life itself is changing, and how we should confront new visions of what is humanly possible.

Panel presentations will focus on three topics: race, ethnicity and the human genome; genes and human nature; and designing life. Panelists include Georgia Dunston, microbiology, Howard University; Kenneth K. Kidd, genetics and psychiatry, Yale University; Thomas Bouchard, psychology, University of Minnesota; Eric Juengst, Center for Biomedical Ethics, Case Western Reserve University; Gregory Stock, University of California, Los Angeles, Program on Medicine, Technology and Society; and Dorothy Nelkin, sociology, New York University.

Harold Shapiro, chairman of the National Bioethics Advisory Committee and former U-M president, is the symposium’s dinner speaker.

The 1997 film Gattaca will be shown at 7 p.m., Dec. 6 in 100 Hutchins Hall. Eric Rabkin, professor of English, will provide commentary on the film and lead a discussion.

The symposium is scheduled for 8:30 a.m.–6 p.m., Dec. 7, with Collins’ lecture at 9 a.m. All Dec. 7 events take place at Hale Auditorium in the U-M Business School.

The symposium and workshops are free and open to the public, but registration is required. More information and online registration are available at

The Wiesner symposium is co-sponsored by the Office of the Vice President for Research and the Life Sciences, Values, and Society Program. It is named for Jerome B. Wiesner (1915–94), one of

U-M’s most distinguished alumni. He was science and technology adviser to Presidents Eisenhower and Kennedy during a period of rapid growth in research and development in the United States and served as president of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 1971 until his retirement in 1980.

Symposium broadcast on Web, TV

The U-M will webcast Collins’ lecture live; for details, visit the Web at UMTV, cable channel 22, will broadcast the symposium the following week. For information on broadcast times, visit the Web at