University of Southern California

The Genetics of Ethics
David Daar '11 Wins Prize in USC Ethics Essay Contest for Paper Written in Advanced Writing for Business Class
April 15, 2011 • by News at Marshall

The first annual USC Ethics Essay Contest awarded six cash prizes at the Undergraduate Writers' Conference on March 30. David Daar '11, a senior majoring in health promotion and disease prevention in the USC Keck School of Medicine, won for a paper he submitted in the category of professional ethics.

Titled "The Genetics of Ethics: How Regulation and Research Can Assure Direct-to-Consumer Genetic Testing Is Both Valid and Ethical," Daar’s essay combines his two academic and professional interests. "I'm really interested in the combination of business and medicine and how the two can work together to provide health care to more people and provide better access, because access, I think, is the most important issue in health care today," he said.

The essay was written in USC Marshall Professor Lucy Lee’s WRIT 340: Advanced Writing for Business class, in which students are asked to write a research-based white paper analyzing an ethical dilemma and proposing a solution.

Daar argued that direct-to-consumer genetic testing — where individuals order test kits from companies, send samples to a lab and get information back about their susceptibility to certain diseases — "could be one of the biggest steps toward personalized medicine." But, he reasoned, that is only possible if "more collaborative research is done to assure the genetic testing is valid" and there are "stricter regulations of the tests through the FDA or other regulatory bodies to standardize them so consumers, physicians and insurance companies can improve health outcomes for people."

Lee encouraged Daar to enter the contest sponsored by the Levan Institute for Humanities and Ethics and the Writing Programs at the College of Letters, Arts & Sciences, the Marshall School of Business and the Viterbi School of Engineering.

"What stood out for me, from day one in the Advanced Writing class, were two things: first David’s passion about ideas, and about writing as a powerful tool to create change," said Lee, professor of clinical management. "David is a jewel of a student, and I am so thrilled that he was recognized with this honor."

Daar, who plans to pursue both an M.D. and an MBA, said that winning the contest was exciting and encouraging. "This was a cool way to show that my interests are actually valid," he said, "and prove to myself this is what I want to do: incorporate a business perspective and ethics into medicine to make me a better doctor and let me help more people."

About the USC Marshall School of Business
Consistently ranked among the nation's premier schools, USC Marshall is internationally recognized for its emphasis on entrepreneurship and innovation, social responsibility and path-breaking research. Located in the heart of Los Angeles, one of the world's leading business centers and the U.S. gateway to the Pacific Rim, Marshall offers its 5,700-plus undergraduate and graduate students a unique world view and impressive global experiential opportunities. With an alumni community spanning 123 countries, USC Marshall students join a worldwide community of thought leaders who are redefining the way business works.