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Policy Practicum: Improving Bone Marrow Donation Programs

The National Bone Marrow Donation Program (NMBD) operates the "Be the Match Registry." Individuals who register with Be the Match may be identified as potential donors of hematapoietic cells (most typically bone marrow) to patients facing life-threatening disorders such as leukemia, lymphoma, and aplastic anemia who do not have family members who are good matches to serve as donors. (Family members are appropriate for only 30% of patients needing these transplants.) The NBMD is considering whether the procedures that it uses to attract people to enroll as potential donors in the registry could be improved, and also wants to investigate the further possibility that the proportion of potential donors who actually donate cells once it is discovered that they are a match for a particular patient could be increased. Social psychologists here at Stanford are interested in working with the NBMD to examine some of the organization¿s practices, taking advantage of the sorts of social psychological insights often employed by those interested in marketing products or increasing charitable donations. There are questions, of course, about the efficacy of the techniques that they might recommend in terms of increasing ultimate donation levels, but there are also significant questions about whether some of the techniques might run afoul of existing legal regulation or pose other sorts of problems for the organization. Law students who choose to work on this practicum will almost surely work (in teams with other law students and in conjunction with social psychologists working on this issue and the NBMD) on the following issues: -- To what extent is it consonant with existing medical privacy law (or laws that the NBMD might press to adopt) to reveal personal information about donees to potential donors, assuming that donors are more likely to donate to those with whom they feel a greater personal connection? -- To what degree can NBMD simplify the process of registering potential donors without running afoul of current (or ideal) regulation protecting people against undergoing medical procedures in the absence of informed consent? -- What sorts of material incentives for donation, if any, are permissible under current (or ideal) law and what stance should the NBMD take on the use of material incentives? There may well be other related topics upon which students will work as well. Students may normally receive no more than four units for a Policy Lab practicum and no more than a total of eight units of Policy Lab practicums and Directed Research projects combined may be counted toward graduation unless additional units for graduation are approved in advanced by the Petitions Committee. A student cannot receive a letter grade for more than eight units of independent research (Policy Lab practicum, Directed Research, Senior Thesis, and/or Research Track). Any units taken in excess of eight will be graded on a mandatory pass basis. Consent Application: To apply for this course, students must complete and e-mail the Consent Application Form available on the SLS Registrar's Office website (see Registration and Selection of Classes for Stanford Law Students) to the instructors at mkelman@stanford.edu and lmarshall@law.stanford.edu. See Consent Application Form for submission deadline. Elements used in grading: Written Assignments, Class Participation, Group Work.


Instructors for this course (Past and Present)

Mark G. Kelman
Lawrence C. Marshall