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Nina Tandon

Research Scientist, cooper union

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If your cells were used to grow an organ in the lab, is it still "your" organ?

Live TED Conversation: Join TED Fellow Nina Tandon

Nina Tandon is a postdoctoral researcher at Columbia University's Laboratory for Stem Cells and Tissue Engineering, Adjunct Professor of Electrical Engineering at the Cooper Union, and current MBA candidate at Columbia Business School. She studies ways to use electrical signals to grow artificial tissues for transplants and other therapies.

This conversation will open at 1pm EDT on October 3rd, 2011.

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  • Oct 3 2011: I think it has to do with consent and information content. In a certain sense, the organ is using an information pattern that is a part of the person's body, and that information content seems like something that is owned by that person. While this would not render an organ grown in a lab the legal property of said person (unless, of course, that was part of the terms of the agreement with the lab) it would mean that copying that information without consent or under an unenforcable contract would constitute some sort of legal damage, and the value of the organ (or potential future organs) used might well be a good method of signifying the "loss" to the person in a legal sense. So, in a broad sense, it would not be "your" organ- all things being equal; but there could still be legal damages assigned should your cells be taken without your consent, or under a contract that was not enforceable.

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