Tissue biobanks are critical to realizing the promise of personalized medicine. Unlike tissue repositories of the past, biobanks combine tissue with clinical and tissue derived molecular information. They are searchable, organized data-rich entities that can make lending decisions to qualified researchers. Biobanks have a green light and are growing in number, size, complexity and investment money, but forge ahead with many ethical and legal issues unsettled. The current approach has excessive redundancy, overlap and waste because tissue is often collected for a single purpose and information proprietary.
This essay will examine the advantages and shortcomings of current law describing human tissues and then propose a new approach that better recognizes the interdependence of tissue and tissue derived information, and the public interest. The new approach will explore how human tissue is related to information derived from it and similarities and differences between tissue information and clinical information. Relying on previous work by Henry Smith and others, the essay describes tissue biobanks as a liberal tissue semicommons, outlines how this new approach better balances interests of researchers and tissue donors, and explores how biobanks as liberal semicommons will look.
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/ken_gatter/1/