Skip to main content

ELSI and the Virome: Bugs, Drugs, and Precision Viral Care

Center for Genomics and Society Seminar

co-hosted by the UNC Center for Bioethics


View the Lecture Capture recording.


Date: Wednesday, May 8

Time: 12:00 pm—1:00 pm

Location: Bondurant G100

This is an in-person event only. It will be recorded via Lecture Capture.

Advancing understanding of the human virome (all viruses that live in and on us) is a national scientific priority. Commensal relationships with viruses prompt questions of what it means to be human and healthy, shifting with new understandings of our complex cohabitation with the most abundant replicating entity on the planet.  Applications of human viromics include the capacity to detect directionality of disease transmission, bacteriophage therapy development, and virulence factor studies. In this presentation, ethical, legal, and social implications (ELSI) of these viromics topics will be presented via vignettes which comprise textual scenarios designed to elicit attendee reflection.  We will discuss the ELSI implications of each, soliciting feedback on draft vignettes which will be used in future research.

Featured Speaker:

Karen Meagher, PhD
Assistant Professor of Biomedical Ethics Research, Mayo Clinic

Dr. Meagher’s broad focus is research questions related to ethics and population health. She is especially interested in ethics and professionalism, including how training in medicine, public health, natural sciences and allied health can affect moral perceptions and attitudes. Her work also addresses the ethics of emerging genetic technologies, including their population health implications.

Dr. Meagher’s past work has focused on the population health screening potential of new advances in genetics. In addition her work has addressed bioethics and national science, technology, and health policy. This includes such topics as medically actionable genetic results in clinical, research, and direct-to-consumer settings; ethics and the 2014-2015 Ebola virus disease epidemic; and ethics of neuroscience research.

Dr. Meagher is also interested in ethics and public engagement. As associate director of public engagement in the Biomedical Ethics Research Program, she supports the Community Advisory Board Network of the Mayo Clinic Biobank. She also co-hosts the “Bioethics on the Page” community book club in conjunction with the Rochester Public Library.

She is a former Postdoctoral Scholar in the Center for Genomics and Society at UNC-Chapel H