Dresser appointed to NIH advisory committee

Committee involved in oversight of federally funded research involving recombinant DNA

Rebecca Dresser, JD, the Daniel Noyes Kirby Professor of Law and professor of ethics in medicine at Washington University in St. Louis, has been appointed to the Recombinant DNA Advisory Committee (RAC) of the National Institutes of Health (NIH).


RAC serves a critical role in the oversight of federally funded research involving recombinant DNA. Its primary directives are to consider the current state of knowledge and technology regarding recombinant DNA and then to advise the NIH on how such matters can affect safety guidelines.

RAC members also are responsible for considering the ethical, legal and societal risks and implications of ongoing research. The organization’s most recent focus has been reviewing human gene transfer trials that raise novel or particularly important scientific, safety or ethical considerations.

Dresser, an expert in biomedical ethics, holds a joint appointment at the law school and at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, teaching law and medical students about legal and ethical issues in end-of-life care, biomedical research, genetics, assisted reproduction and related topics.

She has written extensively in her field and is the co-author of a casebook on bioethics and law and a book on the ethical treatment of animals. She also is the author of a book on patient advocacy and research ethics.

A past member of the President’s Council on Bioethics, she sits on the Washington University Medical Center Institutional Review Board, as well as the Washington University Embryonic Stem Cell Research Oversight Committee and Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center Ethics Committee.

Dresser also is a prolific speaker and panelist at national and international symposia, conferences and workshops on such topics as bioethics and cancer; advance treatment directives; stem cell research; biomedical research policy; and human cloning.