Medical Ethics Conference considers genes Jan. 23

Daniel Sinclair in The Jewish Review, January 06, 2010

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“Genes and Levis: Jewish Wisdom for a Genetic Age” will be the focus of the second annual Jewish Medical Ethics conference sponsored by the Portland Kollel and the Maimonides Society of the Jewish Federation of Greater Portland.

On Jan. 23, Professor Daniel Sinclair will discuss topics such as genetic testing and therapy, aborting genetically defective fetuses, genetic engineering, gene patenting, cloning and genetic determinism. An ordained rabbi, Sinclair is a professor of Jewish law at Fordham University Law School in New York and adjunct professor of Comparative Biomedical Law at Hebrew University in Jerusalem.

“It’s going to be a fantastic program,” said Dr. Robert Mullen, who is co-chairing the event with Dr. Howard Lazarus. “He (Sinclair) is not only brilliant in terms of his research and experience and writings, he is also a very entertaining speaker who can make complicated topics accessible to a wide range of audiences.”

Despite the worst snowstorm for 40 years, last year’s conference on organ donation drew a huge crowd, some of whom traveled three hours on treacherous streets to attend, said Rabbi Chanan Spivak of the Portland Kollel. This year’s program promises to be just as stimulating.

“Genetics is currently one of the most rapidly advancing fields of science,” said Spivak. “It has endless possibilities for advancement in medicine and yet raises numerous ethical issues that Judaism must confront.”

While health care professionals will certainly appreciate the program, Spivak said everyone should find it interesting because the topic has “repercussions that leaves no one unaffected.”

“It deals with some of the most fascinating and thought-provoking issues that face modern day medicine and science,” said Spivak. “In addition, Dr. Sinclair is renowned for being both dynamic and interactive.”

The Jan. 23 program will be at the Mittleman Jewish Community Center. Sponsor tickets are $100 per person, which includes dinner, lecture and cocktail reception with guest speaker Daniel Sinclair at 6:45 p.m. Cost for the dinner and lecture, which begin at 7:30 p.m., is $45 if paid by Jan. 15 ($55 after).

RSVP to Becka at becka@jewishportland.org or 503-245-6219.