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James Boyd
IU Maurer School of Law

Last modified: Thursday, February 5, 2009

Medical law expert to deliver Smith Lecture Feb. 12

Feb. 5, 2009

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Loane Skene, a renowned Australian expert in medical law and genetics, will deliver the George P. Smith II Lecture at the Indiana University Maurer School of Law on Feb. 12.

Skene's presentation, "Recent Developments in Stem Cell Research: Social, Ethical and Legal Issues for the Future," begins at noon in the Moot Court Room and is free and open to the public. Her presentation will address regulatory issues that have arisen in relation to stem cell research and how laws will constantly change as technology continues to advance.

Loane Skene

Loane Skene

"The law is always behind science because we cannot imagine what will happen next," Skene said. "Last year, many people thought that the ethical debate about using human embryos in research was over, when scientists were able to derive human stem cells from body cells instead of embryos. Now, the first clinical trial is starting with stem cells derived from human embryos to treat patients with acute spinal cord injuries. If this trial is successful, it will challenge people's attitudes and the current restraints on federal funding for embryonic stem cell research."

As the George P. Smith II Distinguished Visiting Professor-Chair, Skene is spending two weeks at the Maurer School of Law, meeting with faculty, students and local medical representatives in Bloomington and at the IU School of Medicine in Indianapolis.

George P. Smith II

George P. Smith II

"The George P. Smith II Distinguished Visiting Professor-Chair has given us the opportunity over the years to bring deeply intellectual and distinguished visitors from around the world," said Dean and Val Nolan Professor of Law Lauren Robel. "We have been particularly lucky to have visitors whose expertise is in the area of medicine and health, and Loane Skene follows in that tradition. We are delighted that she brings her work on genetics, new technologies, and ethics to our students and faculty."

At the University of Melbourne, Skene is a professor of law and an adjunct professor in the Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry, and Health Services. She also serves as deputy director of the Australian Centre for Law and Human Genetics and as a member of the Ethics Committee of the International Society for Stem Cell Research.

In 2003, Skene was awarded a Centenary Medal by the Commonwealth of Australia, and in 2007, she was named as one of Australia's most powerful cultural figures by the Australian Financial Review.

Indiana Law Professor Hannah Buxbaum, associate dean for research and the Louis F. Niezer Faculty Fellow, said Skene brings a wealth of experience to the classroom.

"She is one of the world's premier authorities on health law and genetics, and we are fortunate to have her here to provide insight into these areas where law meets technology and innovation," Buxbaum said.

The professorship-chair Skene is occupying was established by George P. Smith II, JD'64, now a professor of law at The Catholic University of America Columbus School of Law.