Addressing choice of law challenges in multi-state precision medicine research: experts' assessment of key factors

Leslie Wolf, Georgia State University College of Law
Erin Fuse Brown, Georgia State University College of Law
R Greeson, Georgia State University College of Law
Catherine M. Hammack, Vanderbilt University
James W. Hazel, Center for Biomedical Ethics and Society, Vanderbilt University Medical Center
William C. Rencher
Laura M. Beskow, Vanderbilt University School of Medicine

Precision medicine research implicates numerous state laws that may affect participants' rights and protections and are not preempted by federal law. The choice of which state's laws apply, and under what circumstances, can have significant impact on research design and oversight. But neither of the traditional approaches to choice of law issues-contractual agreement or determination by a court after a dispute arises-fit the research context well. We hosted a series of workshops with choice of law experts and research law and ethics experts to identify factors that are most crucial to account for in a future choice of law precision medicine research framework. Our workshops focused on precision medicine 'places' and choice of law factors; there was consensus that 'place where the harm occurred' was relevant and best represented by where the participant resides and/or where the research/institution is located. Our experts identified factors that need to be accounted for in a future choice of law framework. They also identified potential approaches, including a federal law or model state law as ways of achieving more uniformity of protections and a comprehensive database of laws, which merit further consideration to provide IRBs and researchers the guidance they require.