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Banking (On) The Brain: From Consent to Authorisation and the Transformative Potential of Solidarity

Harmon, SHE   McMahon, A

12th World Congress of Bioethics

Mexico City

http://www.conbioetica-mexico.salud.gob.mx/descargas/pdf/Bioethics.pdf

June 25 – 28 2014

Modern technologies and ambitions for biomedicine have resulted in the rise of new models of medical research, including population biobanking. One example of biobanking is brain banking, which refers to the collection and storage of brain and spinal cord samples for research into neurological diseases intended to benefit individuals and society more broadly. Obviously, brain banking involves taking brains and tissue from deceased people, a fact which complicates the task of recruiters and which makes consent a relatively poor tool for stakeholders. This paper will contextualise brain banking, considering the public health issues at stake. It will then explore the legal definitions and demands of , and actual processes around, ‘consent’ in England/Wales/Northern Ireland and ‘authorisation’ in Scotland, articulating and evaluating their conceptual and practical differences. It then argues for an expanded but improved operation of ‘authorisation’ in the brain banking (and broader biobanking) setting, adopting the socio-moral value of ‘solidarity’ as our foundation and the improvement of the ‘public good’ as our legitimate
objective.