Reprogenetics: A Blueprint for Meaningful Moral Debate and Responsible Public Policy

Project launched in July 2000

Lead Investigators: Lori Knowles and Erik Parens

Funder: The Greenwall Foundation, with additional funding from The Overbrook Foundation


Evaluate and compare regulatory approaches in the United States and abroad to research and use of reproductive and genetic – “reprogenetic” – technologies, and recommend new regulatory structures for the United States.


E. Parens and L. Knowles, “Reprogenetics and Public Policy: Reflections and Recommendations,” A special report in theHastings Center Report, July-August 2003.

Lori P. Knowles and Gregory E. Kaebnick (eds.), Reprogenetics: Law, Policy, and Ethical Issues (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2007).

L. Knowles, “A Regulatory Patchwork: Human ES Cell Research Oversight,” Nature Biotechnology 22, no. 2 (2004).

E. Parens, “Clear Thinking on Cloning,” Washington Post, February 1, 2003.

T.H. Murray, “Cloning for Profit or for Science,” commentary on Morning Edition, National Public Radio, December 10, 2002.

T.H. Murray, “Hard Cell: The Ethics and Politics of Stem Cell Research,” The American Prospect, fall 2001.

E. Parens and E. Juengst, “Inadvertently Crossing the Germ Line,” Science 292 (2001).

G. Kaebnick, “All Clones Are Not the Same,” New York Times, January 2, 2001.

Other articles listed below.

Key Issues

  • In the United States, reproductive technologies are subject to very little and often ad hoc regulation.
  • Genetic technologies are subject to more formal regulation, but this regulation tends to treat techniques in isolation.
  • Increasingly frequently, reproductive and genetic technologies are frequently combined.

Lessons and Findings

  • Lifting the ban on using federal funds to support embryo research would open the way toward effective regulation of reprogenetics.
  • Congress should create a temporary commission to assess the state of the science and its ethical and social implications and to develop recommendations for effective regulation.
  • To oversee research and clinical use of reprogenetics (in both the public and private sectors) and to promote systematic public discussion of the field’s ethical and social implications, the United States should have a standing body with powers and functions similar to those of Britain’s Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority.

Other Articles

T. Caulfield, L. Knowles, and E. Meslin, “Law and Policy in an Era of Reproductive Genetics,” Journal of Medical Ethics, spring 2004.

L. Knowles and E. Parens, “The Science and Ethics of Embryonic Stem Cell Research,” in Encyclopedia Britannica Almanac2003.

T.H. Murray, “What Are Families For? Getting to an Ethics of Reproductive Technology,” Hastings Center Report 32, no. 3 (2002).

E. Parens and T.H. Murray, “Preimplantation Genetic Diagnosis: Questions at the Beginning of a Long Conversation,” Lahey Clinical Medical Ethics Newsletter 9, no. 2 (2002).

L. Knowles, “Reprogenetics: Toward Meaningful Regulation,” Hastings Center Report 32, no. 3 (2002).

G. Kaebnick and T.H. Murray, “Cloning,” in The Concise Encyclopedia of the Ethics of New Technologies. Academic Press, 2001.

L. Knowles, “Science Policy and the Law: Reproductive and Therapeutic Cloning,” New York University Journal of Legislation and Public Policy 4, no 1 (2000-2001).

L. Knowles, “Primordial Stem Cell Research: Canadian Policy Options,” commissioned by the Canadian Biotechnology Advisory Committee (2000).