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Owning the Genome

Press Release: For Immediate Release
Date: November 1, 2013
Contact: Laura Quilter, 413-545-6947, lquilter@library.umass.edu

UMASS AMHERST LIBRARIES AND PARTNERS HOST

OWNING THE GENOME: MYRIAD GENETICS AND BIOMEDICAL PATENTS

Amherst, Massachusetts – The UMass Amherst Libraries and partners host “Owning the Genome: Myriad Genetics and Biomedical Patents,” with attorney Chris Hansen, on November 13, 2013, at 7:00 p.m., at the Campus Center Auditorium, at UMass Amherst.

In 2013, the Supreme Court held that genes found in nature cannot be patented; invalidating Myriad Genetics’ patents on the human breast cancer genes BRCA1 and BRCA2. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and other nonprofits led the charge and noted litigator Chris Hansen took the case all the way to the Supreme Court. Questions remain, however. What will lower courts make of the Supreme Court’s distinction of “cDNA,” already receiving criticism from scientists? And how is Myriad Genetics continuing to defend its assertion of proprietary controls on the tests? Chris Hansen, retired attorney for ACLU, will discuss the case, and a panel of scientists and technology transfer experts will respond.

Chris Hansen joined the ACLU in 1973, working on complex litigation involving mental retardation, mental health, and child welfare systems, and school desegregation. Hansen led the ACLU’s efforts to protect Internet speech under the First Amendment, culminating in the landmark Supreme Court case Reno v. ACLU (1997). Most recently, he led the ACLU’s efforts to invalidate patents granted on human genes, arguing successfully in the 2013 Supreme Court case AMP v. Myriad Genetics. Hansen has argued cases in multiple courts at all levels, including the US Supreme Court; he retired from the ACLU in 2013.

The panel will include Courtney Babbitt, Assistant Professor in the Biology and Honors Department, UMass Amherst; Joseph Jerry, Science Director at Pioneer Valley Life Sciences Institute (PVLSI), Director of the Center for Breast Cancer Research ( PVLSI), Professor in Veterinary and Animal Sciences, UMass Amherst; and Frederick Reinhart, Jr., Director of Commercial Ventures & Intellectual Property, UMass Amherst.

“Owning the Genome” is sponsored by the Science and Engineering Library at UMass Amherst Libraries, the College of Natural Sciences, the Office of Research & Engagement, the Commonwealth Honors College, and the American Bar Association (ABA) University Intellectual Property Law Committee.


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Last Edited: 5 November 2013