Towards a Public Human Tissue Trust

- Case W. Res. L. Rev.
Author/s: -Harvey, Martin
Journal: Case W. Res. L. Rev.
Year: 2008
Volume: 59
Pages: 1171

Currently, major research institutions, graduate medical education programs, and the federal government store over two hundred million human tissue samples available for use in biomedical research.’ This human tissue archive continues to increase at a rate of approximately twenty million samples per year.2 But who “owns” this tissue: the institutions that store it, the researchers who use it, or the research participants who voluntarily provide it? Any adequate response to this question requires striking the best balance between two pressing policy goals: (1) the need to ensure biomedical progress; and (2) the need to protect the right to informed consent. Recent court decisions all vest ownership in research institutions, while legal academics tend to favor vesting ownership in research participants. The door remains open to vest ownership in researchers via the proper contractual arrangements. For reasons stated extensively below, each of these options proves lacking. Instead, this Note aims to show that the creation of a public human tissue trust affords the best option to policymakers.