Are human genes patentable? | Tania Simoncelli | TEDxAmoskeagMillyard

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In 2005, Tania Simoncelli, then the Science Advisor for the American Civil Liberties Union, contemplated a question at once simple and complex: Are human genes patentable? At the time, U.S. patent law said they were -- which meant patent holders had the right to stop anyone from sequencing, testing, or even looking at a gene they had patented. Troubled by the way this law both harmed patients and created a barrier to biomedical discovery and innovation, Simoncelli partnered with ACLU attorney Chris Hansen to challenge it. In this riveting talk, she tells the story of how they took a case everybody told them they would lose all the way to the Supreme Court -- and won.

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Tania Simoncelli is Assistant Director for Forensic Science and Biomedical Information in the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. She previously worked for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, where she served as Senior Advisor in the Office of Medical Products and Tobacco. From 2003-2010, Simoncelli worked as the Science Advisor to the ACLU, where she guided the organization’s responses to cutting-edge developments in science and technology that pose challenges for civil liberties. In 2013, Simoncelli was named by the journal Nature as one of “ten people who mattered this year” for her work with the ACLU in overturning gene patents.

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