UPDATE ON OTHER PROJECTS
DR. MESLIN: Very quickly. I held off giving an update on some of the projects because not all of the Commissioners were here first thing in the morning yesterday. Let me just briefly touch on five things that are under way now both as updates for Commissioners and those who are present.
As I’ve reported at previous meetings, our protocol project is underway and hopefully nearing completion in the next few weeks.
MS. CHARO: Protocol project?
DR. MESLIN: For the capacity project. The review of protocols and consent forms that have been requested. Trish, Alex, and Jim have been kindly involved in that process. There will be more materials available for Commissioners as this nears completion.
The international project, about which we have also spoken on a couple of occasions, has moved in at least a number of different and helpful directions. We are now about to contract with at least three individuals, I’d prefer not to mention who they are at this point because the contracts have not yet been signed, who will be providing empirical research for us on a number of issues, including the way in which investigators in other countries understand and make use of Federal regulations that the U.S. Government imposes as a condition of receiving funding. There are at least two of those.
That will hopefully be completed, the contracts completed within the next week and we hope to have a timetable that will provide some of that data to Commissioners by the beginning of 1999 at our January meeting. We hope that by our November meeting you will get to meet these individuals and they can present their research plans and descriptions for you. We’re very excited about that because a number of our staff members here, including Elisa Eiseman and Lori Knolls and others, have been working on this project in pieces. I say in pieces, because we have been very mindful of Commissioners’ interest in having us complete the projects that are under way, so we have tried to protect staff time on this. That being stated, there are data being gathered and bibliographies being prepared and, I think, very helpful methodological progress being made.
The plan, and I haven’t discussed this with Alta or Kathi but I can simply mention it, is that it should not get in the way of any of our other projects. But as you saw on the proposed draft outline yesterday there was mention of international activities. I think that’s extremely important for the Commission to think through—whether these projects might be folded into each other or be in some way running parallel.
I am also in the process of trying to recruit an international project director who can lead this project in the way that Kathi Hanna is leading the comprehensive project.
The third item of my five-item update is just to again mention that the International Summit of National Bioethics Commissions in Tokyo, which NBAC is helping to put together, but is not a formal NBAC meeting, has made great strides. There are now about forty delegates from a variety of countries that will be going to that meeting in November, and some of the members of this Commission will also be in attendance.
It is expected that one of the outcomes of the Tokyo meeting may be a statement of cooperation and collaboration between National Bioethics Commissions of the world, or at least of those who are in attendance, of the kind that I think will foster education and work in the future.
The fourth of my five items is something that has been on our shadow agenda, so to speak, and it is the subject of education, one that I know has been of great interest to many Commissioners around the table. I simply wanted to update you that one of our contract staff, Andy Burness, and his group have been very much involved behind the scenes working with Pat Norris and myself and others on staff to develop some of our public communication issues.
Andy has been particularly interested in meeting some of the Commission’s needs regarding education. We’ve had some informal discussions and I hope that at our next meeting in November we can present to you a more fully developed plan for what is under way. But these include such things as updating and making full use of our Web site, discussions about public meetings of one form or another. Some of the Commissioners, I know Bette Kramer, Eric Cassell, and Alta Charo have been particularly interested in this subject. So I simply wanted to let you know that we are very much interested in this and it is one of Mr. Burness’ activities, among others.
The last item, which was mentioned briefly yesterday and I think I’ll just let Jim say a quick minute about it, is the meeting relating to the Belmont project. We of course discussed in Portland that the Belmont Revisited project with NBAC’s rewriting of the Belmont Report was probably not the best use of our immediate time, but that it was of sufficient interest that some type of adjunct activity could occur.
So I can let Jim maybe just say a quick word.
DR. CHILDRESS: As Harold mentioned yesterday, we’ve managed to put together independent funding for the conference. Harold and I, with a lot of suggestions from other people, have been working on a conference which will be held April 16-18 in Charlottesville. Some Commissioners are presenting papers and some are serving as respondents, and all Commissioners will be invited to participate in the conference beginning late Friday afternoon or early evening on the 16th and ending around noon on the 18th. You’ll be getting more information about that in the next week or so.
DR. SHAPIRO: Okay. Any questions that arise? All right, we’ll take a ten-minute break and then reconvene to begin our work on the capacity report. Thank you.