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CMU Receives $1.2 Million NIH Grant To Develop Ethics, Policy Recommendations for Post-Conflict, Post-Disaster DNA ID Practices
Date:2/2/2011

PITTSBURGH, Feb. 2, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Forensic DNA profiling has become a standard tool in the search for missing people in the aftermath of mass violence and disaster, but until now there has been very little effort to identify and analyze the major ethical and policy challenges associated with this new use of genetic technology.

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The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has awarded Carnegie Mellon University a three-year, $1.2 million grant to analyze ethical and policy problems associated with post-conflict and post-disaster DNA identification and develop recommended practices. For example, how much time and money should be devoted to identifying missing people in the face of many competing priorities, and who owns and controls the biological information that is collected during the identification process?

"Over the past two decades, it has become increasingly clear that identifying missing people and returning their remains to families can be a crucial step in the reconstruction of societies recovering from mass violence or mass disaster," said Jay Aronson, associate professor of science, technology and society in CMU's Department of History. "Yet, reattaching a name to a body is only the beginning of the healing process for families and communities that have suffered great loss. The identification process does not automatically encourage reconciliation or a return to normalcy without appropriate attention to political, economic, cultural and legal issues. If not done carefully it can even lead to increased emotional suffering on the part of relatives of the missing or a return to conflict and chaos."

Aronson and anthropologist Sara
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SOURCE Carnegie Mellon University
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