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Cooper Doctors, Med Students Explore Ethics of Personalized Medicine with World Renowned Expert

Arthur Caplan, PhD, speaks to physicians, fellows, residents and medical students at Cooper Medical School during the Inaugural Berkowitz Lecture.

Personalized medicine is a young but rapidly advancing field of healthcare. It involves identifying genetic, genomic, and clinical information that allows accurate predictions to be made about a person’s susceptibility of developing disease, the course of disease, and its response to treatment. Doctors can now develop medical treatments that are as individualized as their patient’s disease.

While the idea of personalized medicine sounds enticing to both patients and medical practitioners, there is great responsibility with the information derived during the process. The biggest issues relate to privacy and autonomy. How can this information be protected from profiling by insurance companies, employers, and even potential mates? And if a patient knows they are at risk for a genetic disease, especially one without a cure such as Alzheimer’s disease, how does that affect the privacy and autonomy of other family members?

These are just a few of complicated topics that were discussed with physicians, fellows, residents and medical students at Cooper Medical School of Rowan University by world-renowned bioethicist Arthur Caplan, PhD, at the Inaugural Berkowitz Lecture.

“All physicians, regardless of their specialty or their skills, will surely be faced with numerous difficult ethical issues throughout their careers,” explained Edwin Berkowitz, the successful Pennsylvania businessman and philanthropist whose foundation provided a grant to The Cooper Foundation to fund the event. “By helping to engage doctors and future doctors in thoughtful, honest discussions about these issues, I believe we will help to foster kindness and concern, and ultimately improve patient care for all.”

The Berkowitz Family Foundation recently provided a significant gift to The Cooper Foundation to hold annual educational programs for physicians and students on medical ethics featuring world-renowned experts in the field. Cooper urologist Joel Marmar, MD, was instrumental in securing the grant. Dr. Marmar has had a professional relationship and long term friendship with Mr. Berkowitz.

“We were pleased to kick off this important annual event with Dr. Arthur Caplan,” said Dr. Marmar. “As one of the nation’s luminaries in the field of medical ethics, it’s an honor and a privilege to have him as Cooper’s guest.”

Dr. Caplan is the Drs. William F. and Virginia Connolly Mitty Chair and Director, Division of Medical Ethics at New York University Langone Medical Center. Prior to joining NYU Dr. Caplan was the Sidney D. Caplan Professor of Bioethics at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia where he created the Center for Bioethics and the Department of Medical Ethics. He also taught at the University of Minnesota, where he founded the Center for Biomedical Ethics, the University of Pittsburgh, and Columbia University.

“This was an excellent opportunity for our students and faculty,” added Annette Reboli, MD, Vice Dean of Cooper Medical School. “Dr. Caplan is widely known for his thoughtful, engaging and provocative discussions, and this program, which delved into the emerging field of the ethics of personalized medicine, will be an event to remember.”

Check out the photo gallery of the Inaugural Berkowitz Lecture.