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Interview by Agnieszka Tennant

Brave New Laws

A conversation with bioethics lawyer Lori Andrews.

Since she passed her bar exam on July 25, 1978, the day the first test-tube baby was born, Lori B. Andrews has been a pioneer working at the juncture of medicine and law. By the time the National Law Journal named her as one of the hundred most influential lawyers in America, Andrews had become an internationally acclaimed authority on biotechnologies.

She regularly advises the institutions that are trying to come to terms with the consequences of the biotech revolution—the National Institutes of Health, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the Centers for Disease Control, and the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences, among others—and she chaired the Working Group on the Ethical, Legal, and Social Implications of the Human Genome Project. She recently served as a consultant to the science ministers of various countries on gene patents, embryonic stem cells, and DNA banking. Increasingly her counsel is sought by artists, who are taking the biotech toolkit from the laboratory to the studio.

Andrews's ability to translate scientific concepts into language understandable to ordinary people, her imaginative grasp of the potential consequences of biotechnologies, and her dry sense of humor make her a favorite of the popular media; she's appeared on The Oprah Show, Nightline, and many other programs. Distinguished professor of law at Chicago-Kent College of Law, director of the Institute for Science, Law, and Technology in Chicago, and senior scholar at the Center for Clinical Medical Ethics at the University of Chicago, Andrews is also the author of nine books, including most recently Body Bazaar: The Market for Human Tissue in the Biotechnology Age (Crown, 2001), written with Dorothy Nelkin, and Future Perfect: Confronting Decisions about Genetics (Columbia Univ. Press, 2001). In September, Agnieszka Tennant talked with her about the extraordinary promises and perils of biotechnology.

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