Barbara A. Koenig




Barbara A. Koenig, Ph.D., is an anthropologist who studies contemporary biomedicine, working within the interdisciplinary field of bioethics. She is Professor of Biomedical Ethics and of Medicine at the College of Medicine, Mayo Clinic, and an Affiliate Faculty of the Center for Bioethics, University of Minnesota, Mpls.

Before moving to the Mayo Clinic in 2005, Koenig was an Associate Professor in the School of Medicine at Stanford University. She served as Executive Director of the Stanford University Center for Biomedical Ethics for a decade.

Koenig has pioneered the use of empirical social science methods in the study of ethical questions in science, medicine, and health. Her methodological expertise is in the design of research using multiple methods -- both quantitative and qualitative -- and integrating empirical research findings into normative ethical analysis, thus informing the development of health policy and bioethics practices. Her research focuses on new biomedical technologies, particularly those within the genomic sciences.

Koenig served on the Department of Health and Human Services “Secretary’s Advisory Committee on Genetic Testing,” a group charged with making recommendations about federal oversight of genetic testing in the U.S. She also served on the Ethics Advisory Committee for the Director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control.

Koenig’s National Institutes of Health-funded research examines: 1) the implications of emerging knowledge in the genetics and neurobiology of addiction, and, 2) a study of human subjects protections in DNA biorepositories linked to electronic medical records. She was awarded a grant from the Greenwall Foundation to investigate DNA “identifiability.” Koenig is currently collaborating with the University of British Columbia in a study of deliberative community engagement as a means of engaging the public about establishing DNA biobanks. As part of Mayo Clinic’s initiatives in “Individualized Medicine” she is CoPI of a “proof of principle” clinical trial that examines direct-to-consumer provision of predictive genetic risk assessment.

Her work has appeared in JAMA, Journal of General Internal Medicine, Annals of Internal Medicine, Journal of General Internal Medicine, Addiction, Issues in Science and Technology, The Hastings Center Report, Medical Anthropology Quarterly, Journal of Clinical Ethics, Chest, Journal of Women’s Health, The Gerontologist, Radiology, Cambridge Quarterly of Healthcare Ethics, Nature Medicine, Archives of Internal Medicine, Journal of Law, Medicine and Ethics, Genome Biology, Yale Journal of Health Policy, Law, and Ethics, and Journal of Pain and Symptom Management.

Her most recent book is a collection of essays titled, Revisiting Race in a Genomic Age, Rutgers University Press (2008), co-edited with Sandra Soo-Jin Lee of SCBE.

In 2009 Koenig was named one of the "top 100" graduates of the University of Minnesota, School of Nursing, in celebration of their Centenary. She was a Soros “Project on Death in America” Faculty Scholar. She is an elected fellow of the Hastings Center.

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Apr 27th 2015

Knowledge linking genomics to health and disease is rapidly expanding. Translation of this knowledge into clinical and public health practice offers promising opportunities but also raises a host of ethical, legal, social, and policy questions. Using case examples, this inter-disciplinary course will explore the challenges of genomic and precision medicine.

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