R. Alta Charo, JD

Position title: Professor, Law & Bioethics, Law School

Email: racharo@wisc.edu

Phone: 608-262-5015

Alta Charo headshot


Dr, Charo is the Warren P. Knowles Professor of Law & Bioethics at the UW Law School.
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R. Alta Charo is the Warren P. Knowles Professor of Law and Bioethics at the University of Wisconsin at Madison. She is an elected fellow of the National Academy of Medicine (fomerly known as the Institute of Medicine) where she serves on its Board on Health Sciences Policy and its executive council. Professor Charo served as a member of the Obama-Biden Transition Project, where she was a member of the HHS review team, focusing her attention particularly on transition issues related to NIH and FDA. On leave from 2009 to 2011, she served a senior policy adviser in the Office of the Commissioner at the U.S. Food & Drug Administration. Charo has served on several expert advisory boards of organizations with an interest in stem cell research, including the Canadian Stem Cell Network, CuresNow, the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, the International Society for Stem Cell Research and WiCell, as well as on the advisory board to the Wisconsin Stem Cell Research Program. In 2005, she was appointed to the ethics standards working group of the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine, where she helped to draft the CIRM regulations governing adult, embryonic and induced pluripotent stem cell research. Also in 2005, she helped to draft the National Academies’ Guidelines for Embryonic Stem Cell Research, and from 2006 to 2009 she co-chaired the National Academies’ Human Embryonic Stem Cell Research Advisory Committee.

More recently, she chaired a 2013 National Academies workshop on stem cell “tourism.” (A video of the workshop can be found here), and was named co-chair of the newly formed National Academy of Medicine Forum on Regenerative Medicine. She is also the co-chair of the joint NAS-NAM Committee on Human Gene Editing and in March 2016 she testified in support of fetal tissue research before the congressional Select Investigative Panel on Saving Infant Lives.

Charo’s earlier related work included service in 1994 on the NIH Human Embryo Research Panel, and from 1996-2001, as a member of President Clinton’s National Bioethics Advisory Commission where she participated in drafting its reports on “Cloning Human Beings”(1997); “Research Involving Persons with Mental Disorders that May Affect Decisionmaking Capacity”(1998); “Research Involving Human Biological Materials: Ethical Issues and Policy Guidance”(1999); “Ethical Issues in Human Stem Cell Research”(1999); “Ethical and Policy Issues in International Research: Clinical Trials in Developing Countries” (2001); and “Ethical and Policy Issues in Research Involving Human Participants” (2001).

Selected References:
  • Charo, “The Legal and Regulatory Context for Human Gene Editing.” Issues in Science and Technology” 32(3): 39-45 (Spring 2016)
  • Charo, “On the Road (to a Cure?): Stem Cell Tourism and Lessons for Gene Editing” New England Journal of Medicine 2016; 374:901-903 (March 10, 2016)
  • Sharfstein and Charo, “The Promotion of Medical Products in the 21st Century: Off-label Marketing and First Amendment Concerns.” Journal of the American Medical Association (November 2015; 314(17):1795-1796)
  • Carroll and Charo, “The Societal Opportunities and Challenges of Genome Editing.” Genome Biology (November 2015). 16:242-248
  • Charo, “Fetal Tissue Fallout” New England Journal of Medicine, (on line first: August 12, 2015. DOI: 10.1056/NEJMp1510279)
  • Charo, “Yellow Light Traffic Signals for Emerging Technologies,” Science 24 July 2015: Vol. 349 no. 6246 pp. 384-385.
  • National Academy of Sciences, Ethics Guidelines for Embryonic Stem Cell Research (committee member) (April 2005) and as updated 2007, 2008 and 2009 (committee co-chair).
  • Liao, Goldschmidt, Sugarman, Bok, Brown, Charo, Faden, Hare, Kahn, Kurtzberg, Manton, Moreno, Shanwani, Sulmasy, Taylor, Zoloth. Ethical and Policy Issues Related to Progenitor Cell-Based Strategies for Prevention of Atherosclerosis. 33 Journal of Medical Ethics 643-646 (2007). California Institute for Regenerative Medicine, Regulations for the Ethical Practice of Stem Cell Research. (committee member) 2007.
  • Daley, Ahrlund-Richter, Auerbach,, Benvenisty, Charo, Chen, Deng, Goldstein, Hudson, Hyun, Junn, Love, Lee, McLaren, Mummery, Nakatsuji, Racowsky, Rooke, Rossant, Scholer, Solbakk, Taylor, Trounson, Weissman, Wilmut, Yu, Zoloth. The ISSCR guidelines for human embryonic stem cell research. Science 315(5812):603-604. February 2, 2007.
  • Charo. Body of Research – Ownership of Human Tissue. New England Journal of Medicine 355(15):1517-1519. October 12, 2006.