Banking (on) the Brain: The Neurological in Culture, Law and SocietyExploratory Award
Dr Shawn H.E. Harmon, Lecturer in Regulation and Risk, Deputy Director of the Mason Institute, School of Law, University of Edinburgh
Dr. Gill Haddow, Senior Research Fellow, School of Social & Political Science, University of Edinburgh,
Dr. Martyn Pickersgill, Wellcome Trust Senior Research Fellow in Biomedical Ethics, Centre for Population Health Science, University of Edinburgh,
Prof. James Ironside CBE, Professor of Clinical Neuropathology, National CJD Surveillance Unit, Western General Hospital, University of Edinburgh,
Prof. Graeme Laurie, Professor of Medical Jurisprudence, Director of the Mason Institute, School of Law, University of Edinburgh,
Ms. Aisling McMahon, PhD Student, School of Law, University of Edinburgh,
Dr. Heather Blenkinsop, School of Social & Political Science, University of Edinburgh.
This project addressed questions pertaining to conceptions of the brain embedded within brain banking practice, the impacts of these on law, and the legal and cultural traction of the knowledge produced by brain banking. The investigators found that despite the significance of issues and concerns between brain banks and other types of biobanks, dialogue about the ethical, legal and cultural aspects amd implications of the work in these domains remains limited.
This Project found that the brain is salient in legal debates around death and injury compensation, but it is treated like any other tissue/organ when it comes to science regulation. Brain banks are governed by de jure law and de facto regulation emerging from routinized practice and codes of conduct. Despite resonance of issues and concerns between brain banks and other types of biobanks, dialogue about the ethical, legal and cultural aspects and implications of the work in these domains remains limited. More broadly, neurologic knowledge is contributing to the development of ‘neurolaw’ – a discursive realm within which there is often a poverty of understanding of both the scope and limits of neuroscience and brain banks, and the practice and meanings of law.
This Project, which involved interdisciplinary collaboratory showed how the ambiguities and ambivalences that differences between intellectual traditions might produce can be leveraged to animate new interdisciplinary conversations, initiatives, and innovations.