Despite the presence of Hurricane Floyd and the resulting absence of more than half of the members, the National Bioethics Advisory Commission (NBAC) convened its 34th meeting Sept. 16-17 in Arlington, Va. The location of the meeting--a modest, drab hotel conference room--belied the serious subject matter of the day: "international bioethics," a preliminary consideration of bioethical regulations for research that runs between borders and cultures.

It's the latest of an array of tough topics tackled by the commission. Created four years ago by President Bill Clinton, NBAC--a handpicked team of 18 bioethicists, lawyers, Ph.D.s, and M.D.s--just got its second two-year extension this September. The commission, which has public meetings every month or so, will be dissecting bioethical dilemmas into at least 2001.

Commission members faced a daunting task from the very beginning. Their original charge was to come up with potentially policy- and law-inspiring reports on bioethically sensitive issues...

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