School of Law School of Medicine

Cordell Institute to take on issues of ethics, policy in data-driven health care and beyond

Institute will work at intersection of science, medicine, ethics and law

From the WashU Newsroom

Precision medicine is an approach that allows doctors to more accurately treat and prevent disease by taking into consideration a patient’s data, such as his or her genetics, diet, environment and lifestyle.

This approach provides a more individualized path of care, but it also raises a host of important questions related to the use of personal data and informed consent, privacy, data security, discrimination, insurance and so forth.

Precision medicine is but one of a number of technologies that are powered by personal information, promising to revolutionize human lives, but raising serious policy, legal and ethical questions about power, consent and privacy in the information age.

To tackle these questions in the field of human health and beyond, Washington University in St. Louis School of Law alumni Joseph Cordell (LLM ’08) and Yvonne Cordell (JD ’88), have made a $5 million commitment to establish and endow the Joseph and Yvonne Cordell Institute for Policy in Medicine & Law. The couple also is providing significant annual support to enable the immediate work of the Cordell Institute.

“I am grateful to Joseph and Yvonne not only for their financial generosity but also for their farsightedness and wisdom in knowing the importance of these issues in the world today and well into the future,” Chancellor Mark S. Wrighton said. “Their gift will help many navigate the often-difficult waters of precision medicine, ethics and law. This is a gift with far-reaching and long-lasting impact.”

The Cordell Institute, which will be officially dedicated Wednesday, Sept. 12, will sponsor two academic symposia — “Issues and Advocacy in Precision Medicine,” on Thursday, Sept. 13, at the Eric P. Newman Education Center on the Medical Campus, and “Trust and Privacy in the Digital Age” on Friday, Sept. 14, at the School of Law in Anheuser-Busch Hall on the Danforth Campus — highlighting issues and expertise in genomic medicine, privacy law and the ethical management of human information in the age of data-driven health care.

“Our institute is a unique collaboration between Washington University’s world-class schools of medicine and law,” said Neil Richards, co-director of the Cordell Institute and noted privacy and information law expert.

“Our goal is to ensure that precision medicine and other technologies fueled by human data can be developed in ways that live up to their great promise, while making sure that we protect the people whose data is being used, in their roles as patients, consumers, citizens and humans,” Richards said.

  Read more at the Source.