This course examines a variety of legal, policy, scientific, social, and ethical issues in the realm of biotechnology. Biotechnology is actually a set of enabling technologies across many scientific disciplines: biology, cell biology, molecular biology, immunology, microbiology, chemical engineering, genetics, chemistry, biochemistry, physics, computer science, and mathematics. Course topics include examination of foundational technologies such as recombinant DNA technology; current applications, including nanobiotechnology and synthetic biology; research and development; funding; academic-industry relationships; human subjects research and institutional review of clinical trials; regulatory oversight by federal agencies; data, privacy, and security issues; and protection of intellectual property.
Upon completion of this course, you will be able to:
- Examine the history and development of the field of biotechnology
- Appreciate the enabling tools and resulting applications of biotechnology
- Assess the scope of federal administrative agency oversight of biotechnology in agriculture, industry, and health care
- Interpret relevant statutes, case law, and regulations pertaining to biotechnology
- Assess incentives for innovation, such as federal funding, licensing, and patents
- Analyze biotechnology case studies, including problems raised by synthetic biology and rDNA in agriculture
- Evaluate broad ethical considerations and mechanisms for bioethical assessment of biotechnology
- Identify legal and policy issues resulting from “dual use” research
The Biotechnology and the Law course can be completed in just 8 weeks. Coursework must be completed in the sequence in which it is offered. You should plan to spend about 6-8 hours per week on online coursework, including reading assignments, research and writing projects, and online discussions.