WSU’s Bill Kabasenche Discusses the Market Value of Human Tissues at a Common Reading Lecture Tuesday, Nov. 13

PULLMAN, Wash.—Washington State University Philosophy Assistant Professor Bill Kabasenche will present the final Common Reading Tuesdays fall lecture Tuesday, Nov. 13, entitled “What’s Your Body Worth? The Ethics of Commodifying Human Tissues.”  His presentation is set for 7 p.m. in Todd 130. The public is welcome.

His lecture springs from topics raised in this year’s Common Reading book, “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks,” by Rebecca Skloot. It details how cells taken without consent from Lacks have been grown in labs and used in a wide variety of applications around the world; the book raises issues about race, culture, economics, ethics, and more. Throughout this academic year, thousands of students are using the book in first-year classes across many disciplines.  Topics from the book are also springboards for Common Reading Tuesdays guest lectures by faculty and other experts.

“Contemporary biomedicine and biotechnology make use of human tissues in a variety of ways,” says Kabasenche, who researches the ethics of biomedical technologies—both the ethics of research and the implications of the application of such technologies.  “Some are used in assisted reproductive technologies.  Some are used in research.  In both research and fertility contexts, market values have come to determine the worth of these tissues.

“What does this imply about the worth of those from whom these tissues come?  What, from an ethical perspective, counts as properly valuing human beings, and what does this imply for tissues taken from them?”

His Common Reading lecture will consider these issues and look at a few prominent cases where these questions come to light.

Kabasenche earned his Ph.D. at the University of Tennessee. In addition to philosophy, he is a participating faculty member in WSU’s Center for Reproductive Biology. He is also co-director of the ethics committee at Pullman Regional Hospital and the director of WSU Global Campus’s Bioethics Graduate Certificate, which is online and course-based.

His is the final presentation in the fall semester lineup of Common Reading Tuesdays lectures and special events. Early in spring semester programming is the Jan. 23, 2013, visit to campus by David Lacks, the son of the main character in this year’s Common Reading book, with a second family member.  An evening moderated discussion that day will be in Beasley Coliseum.

Visit for the latest information.


CONTACT: Karen Weathermon, Co-Director, WSU Common Reading Program, University College at WSU, 509-335-5488,

Beverly Makhani, Communications Director, University College at WSU, 509-335-6679,