The Catholic University of America

Sept. 14, 2007

CUA Senior Interns with President's Council on Bioethics

Experience Convinces Student to Pursue Medical Ethics Career

Genevieve White

When CUA senior Genevieve White applied for an internship with the President's Council on Bioethics this past summer, she thought it would be a great opportunity to fuse her dual degrees - chemistry and philosophy - into a practical career opportunity.

The internship turned out to be a mutually beneficial one: White confirmed that bioethics was the field she wanted to pursue after graduation, and the council valued her scientific training so much they asked her to continue on through Jan. 1, 2008.

"It's been an incredible experience," says White, of Lothian, Md. "I was able to attend council meetings and meet scientists from all over the world."

White also received some valuable advice from the council's chairman, former CUA president Dr. Edmund Pellegrino, about her career path. "It definitely includes more school," White says, including a possible doctorate in philosophy after pursuing a post-graduate medical degree.

The council was created at the behest of President George W. Bush in 2001 for the purpose of advising the president on bioethical issues that might arise from advances in biomedical science and technology. Interns assist all members of the staff with research on particular projects. Each intern is assigned to a project manager, who monitors and oversees research assignments.

White concentrated on the ethical questions surrounding the American College of Medical Genetics recommendation that every newborn in the United States be screened for 29 genetic conditions. White says many ethical questions arose out of her research, including whether doctors should screen for conditions they cannot treat, whether verifying a genetic condition could lead to discrimination, and whether there are implications for family planning in the case of hereditary conditions.

White will balance her time with the council - about five to 10 hours a week - with a heavy course load that includes physical chemistry, medieval theology and bioinorganic chemistry.

- M.M.

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