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Human Genome News Archive Edition

Human Genome News, January 1991; 2(5)

DOE Appoints Yesley To Oversee ELSI Program

Michael S. Yesley, staff attorney at Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL), will assist in the administration of the DOE program on Ethical, Legal, and Social Issues (ELSI) related to the use of data produced in the Human Genome Project.

Yesley, who also conducts an ELSI program at the LANL Center for Human Genome Studies, has extensive experience in bioethics. He was Staff Director of the National Commission for the Protection of Human Subjects (NCPHS) at the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare from 1974 to 1978 and chaired the human studies review board at The Rand Corporation from 1978 to 1980. While at Rand, he taught courses at the University of California, Los Angeles, on ethical issues in biomedical and social science research.

"Michael is a welcome addition to the DOE human genome program. He brings an expertise and background of knowledge that complements our technical capabilities," says Benjamin Barnhart, Manager of the DOE program.

After moving to Santa Fe to practice law in 1980, Yesley served on the New Mexico Medical Malpractice Commission and the Bioethics Committee of St. Vincent Hospital. He has worked at LANL for the past 2 years on safety and environmental matters, taxation, R&D contracting, and review of human studies, in addition to the ELSI program. He earned a B.A. degree in philosophy and a J.D. degree from Harvard University.

Yesley will serve as corepresentative with DOE program staff to the DOE-NIH Joint ELSI Working Group and, when requested, as DOE liaison with other U.S. and worldwide public and private programs and institutions. He will also assist DOE staff in managing the review of ELSI grant proposals submitted to the DOE Office of Energy Research.

According to Yesley, acquiring and analyzing relevant information will help develop the means to resolve major societal concerns raised by potential uses of vastly increased genetic knowledge. This will require a cooperative effort from many disciplines, including the biological and social sciences, health care, law, and the humanities; representatives of the sectors of society that will be most affected by the new genetic knowledge must be included in the deliberations.

Basic principles for protecting human research subjects as set forth by NCPHS in its Belmont Report (1978) will provide guidance, Yesley believes. Those principles are:

  1. Beneficence: maximizing benefits while minimizing harm.
  2. Respect for persons: assuring individual autonomy while protecting those with limited capacity for self-determination.
  3. Justice: allocating benefits and burdens fairly.

  • Michael S. Yesley
    Los Alamos National Laboratory
    MS A187, P. O. Box 1663
    Los Alamos, NM 87545
    505/665-2523, Fax: 505/665-2301


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Human Genome Program, U.S. Department of Energy, Human Genome News (v2n5).

Human Genome Project 1990–2003

The Human Genome Project (HGP) was an international 13-year effort, 1990 to 2003. Primary goals were to discover the complete set of human genes and make them accessible for further biological study, and determine the complete sequence of DNA bases in the human genome. See Timeline for more HGP history.

Human Genome News

Published from 1989 until 2002, this newsletter facilitated HGP communication, helped prevent duplication of research effort, and informed persons interested in genome research.