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Special Article
December 11/25, 2000

Human Tissue Research in the Genomic Era of Medicine: Balancing Individual and Societal Interests

Author Affiliations

From Pfizer Inc, Groton, Conn (Dr Ashburn); Office of Science and Technology, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Boston, Mass (Drs Wilson and Eisenstein); and Harvard Medical School, Boston (Drs Ashburn and Eisenstein). Dr Ashburn is currently employed full time by Pfizer Inc.

Arch Intern Med. 2000;160(22):3377-3384. doi:10.1001/archinte.160.22.3377

Advances in DNA sequencing technology and in our understanding of the human genome are ushering in a new era of genomic medicine, one with dramatic potential to not only benefit society through research involving human tissue, but also to cause economic or psychosocial harms to tissue donors and their families. This delicate situation requires that the needs of tissue donors be carefully considered and balanced with those of the medical research community, especially on issues concerning confidentiality, consent, and compensation. We analyzed the tensions between tissue donors and researchers over the research use of human tissue. We also reviewed several approaches, including the establishment of tissue-trustee infrastructures at academic medical centers, aimed at achieving a more equitable balance between individual donor protection and societal benefits derived from tissue-based research.