Briefs

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Fund to sponsor civil rights, liberties studies

Harvard University and Radcliffe College students and faculty, as well as officers of administration and recent graduates, are invited to apply for grants from a fund established in honor of the late Professor Mark DeWolfe Howe. The fund’s annual income of $15,000 will be distributed in a grant or grants to support study and research in either “Anglo-American Legal History” or, “broadly construed, Civil Rights or Civil Liberties.” Recipients may receive funding to support travel or residence in different parts of the United States to increase their understanding of problems of civil rights or civil liberties. The grants are intended “to support work in the spirit of Professor Howe’s commitment to the cause of political liberty, social justice and the highest standards of scholarship.” Those interested in applying for grants for either the coming summer or for academic year 2001-2002 should submit a brief written statement of their proposal to Professor John H. Mansfield, c/o Susan Norton, Hauser Hall 506, Harvard Law School, Cambridge, MA 02138.

Zittrain ’95 is Prof. of Entrepreneurial Studies

“Jonathan Zittrain [’95] is one of the world’s foremost Internet and technology scholars,” said Dean Clark ’72. “This is an area of study in which our students are increasingly interested. The Harvard community will benefit immeasurably by having such a talented scholar hold the Berkman Professorship.”

Zittrain, a noted expert in the emerging field of cyberlaw, joined the Harvard Law School faculty as a lecturer in 1997 while serving as the first executive director of the Berkman Center for Internet and Society, a leading research center on Internet trends, technology and the law. He was named Assistant Professor of Law in July 2000 and remains a faculty co-director of the Berkman Center.

Zittrain’s scholarship has focused on issues ranging from digital property, privacy and speech to the role played by private “middlepeople” in Internet architecture. He also has a strong interest in creative, useful and unobtrusive ways to deploy technology in the classroom.

Zittrain also holds degrees from Yale University and Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government. After receiving his J.D., Zittrain served as a law clerk for Judge Stephen F. Williams of the U.S. Court of Appeals, D.C. Circuit.

The Berkman Professorship is named in honor of the late Jack Berkman ’29 and his wife, Lillian.

Harvard Law School Office of Communications contributed to this report.

Panelists advocate privacy for genetic information

A second discussion on the Human Genome Project was held Tuesday night at HLS. Titled “Is Your Genetic Privacy At Risk?”, the panel explored the social consequences of the Human Genome Project.

The Harvard Health Caucus sponsored the discussion, in which panelists explored the legal and ethical frameworks of genetic privacy. Many of the panelists advocated legal protection for individual genetic information.

Mark A. Rothstein, director of the Institute for Bioethics, Health Policy and Law at the University of Louisville School of Medicine, stressed the importance of limiting the amount of genetic information that employers may access. “Don’t allow employers to weasel their way into collecting data during the hiring process,” he said.

A.G. Breitenstein, a nationally recognized expert on data privacy and security, said that people do not currently have sufficient legal control over their own genetic data.

“Patients have been shut out of making any property claims,” she said. “There should be a focus on access, not just use [of the data].”

Breitenstein explained why it is difficult to keep genetic information private. “The boundaries of your physical body or cellular structure have no integrity,” she said.

People shed genetic data constantly on such things as hairbrushes and door handles, she said.

Audience member Sarah T. Evans, a Harvard Medical School student, said she appreciated the diversity of the panel but worried that no clear remedies had been presented.

“Everyone agreed that there is some sort of a problem,” she said. “I don’t think anyone offered a really good solution, but they all recognized the need for discussion and education about it.”

The next discussion in the series on the Human Genome Project, to be held March 7, is entitled “The HGP, the Patient-Doctor Relationship and Translating Advances in Genomics into Better Health.”

The Harvard Crimson contributed to this report.

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