Maureen L. Condic

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Maureen L. Condic
Scientific career
FieldsBioethics, fetal development, spinal cord regeneration

Maureen L. Condic is an American neurobiology professor, bioethicist, ombudsman, and appointee to the United States's National Science Board currently at the University of Utah.[1][2][3]


Condic received her BA from the University of Chicago, and her PhD from the University of California, Berkeley. Her postdoctoral fellowship was undertaken at the University of Minnesota. She is an associate professor of neurobiology and anatomy at the University of Utah since 1997. Among her research contributions have been investigations into spinal cord development and regeneration,[4] death determination,[5] ethics around pregnancy,[6] stem cell usage[7] and development.[8] In a 2018 Science interview, Condic was asked why she moved from being well established in her field of neuroscience (with a 2001 single-author paper in her field's leading journal reporting that alterations in a single gene could help adult neurons regenerate,[9] and with two grants from the National Institutes of Health) into the then new field of bioethics. Condic said she moved due to a "heart-wrenching conversation" with a person suffering from a spinal cord injury concerning lack of availability of medical information, combined with concerns that the public was given false enthusiasm for spinal cord recovery after the injury to actor Christopher Reeve.[1]

Since that transition, Condic has published extensively in the field of bioethics, including two books on the intricacies of fetal development and how this biological knowledge intersects with philosophical understandings of human beings, "Human Embryos, Human Beings: A Scientific and Philosophical Approach" (2018)[10] and "Untangling Twinning: What Science Tells Us about the Nature of Human Embryos" (2020).[11]

Government service[edit]

Condic was appointed to the National Science Board to help advise the US Government's senior leaders on bioethics matters. Her term runs 2018–2024.[3] She wrote an Affidavit in 2012 with expert testimony intended to inform the Oklahoma legislature on embryonic development and personhood.[12] In 2013, she testified before Congress regarding ethics surrounding a bill to ban abortions past a certain timeframe.[13][2]

On July 29, 2021, Condic submitted an amicus brief[14] to the United States Supreme Court in the case of Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health which attempts to overturn the ruling in Roe v. Wade.

Therein Condic summarizes her perspective on biomedical advances published in scientific journals that have increased biological understanding of human fetal development. However, many of her cited sources are misrepresented. For instance, citing a 2015 study by Lutkenhoff and colleagues,[15] Condic writes that "the largest study to date of human patients with consciousness disorders unambiguously concluded that the loss of consciousness is associated not with the loss of cortical, but rather of subcortical circuitry." This would appear to suggest that consciousness might arise early in gestation even before the cerebral cortex has developed if, for instance, anatomical brain structures situated below the cortex, such as the thalamus, are actually responsible for consciousness. However, this interpretation is contradicted by the very study it cites, in which Lutkenhoff and colleagues [15] endorse the view of an earlier study [16] that the thalamus "might itself be neither necessary nor sufficient to produce wakefulness." The cerebral cortex appears to rely on nerve fibers that project from the thalamus, thus consciousness may be lost when the thalamus is injured, yet this does not demonstrate that consciousness can be sustained by the thalamus alone.[15] Furthermore, the fact that the cortex relies on the thalamus to function is evidence that consciousness cannot plausibly emerge prior to 24 weeks gestation when connections form between the thalamus and cortex.[17]

Condic states in her amicus that "...technological breakthroughs, especially sophisticated brain mapping and 4D ultrasonography, have enabled direct, unprecedented observation of human fetuses and behavior indicating their subjective experiences— confirming that the fetus is living, conscious, and sensitive to pain shortly after the beginning of the second trimester and months before viability."[18] She argues that many of the scientific "uncertainties" that were present when Roe was decided five decades ago have subsequently been clarified by scientific advances. However, these advances in neuroscience do not corroborate her view that fetuses are conscious prior to viability. For instance, a 2021 study of fetal MEG signals found that a signature of conscious processing was not present until 35 weeks gestation, i.e., during the third trimester when the fetus is already viable.[19]



  1. ^ a b c "Crashing the boards: Neuroscientist Maureen Condic brings a different voice to NSF oversight body". Science | AAAS. 2018-11-25. Retrieved 2018-12-01.
  2. ^ a b Neumann, Erik. "Utah Professor Tapped To Oversee National Science Foundation, Widely Cited By Anti-Abortion Groups". Retrieved 2018-12-01.
  3. ^ a b "White House Names University of Utah Bioethicist Maureen Condic to Six-Year Term on National Science Board - Utah Business". Utah Business. 2018-11-08. Retrieved 2018-12-01.
  4. ^ "Condic ml and spinal - Search Results - PubMed".
  5. ^ Condic, Maureen L. (2016). "Determination of Death: A Scientific Perspective on Biological Integration". Journal of Medicine and Philosophy. 41 (3): 257–278. doi:10.1093/jmp/jhw004. PMC 4889815. PMID 27075193.
  6. ^ Condic, Maureen L.; Harrison, Donna (2018-06-18). "Treatment of an Ectopic Pregnancy". The Linacre Quarterly. 85 (3): 241–251. doi:10.1177/0024363918782417. ISSN 0024-3639. PMC 6161225. PMID 30275609.
  7. ^ Condic, Dr Maureen L. (2009-04-16). "Does Research Really Need Human Embryos and Cloning?". The Daily Beast. Retrieved 2018-12-01.
  8. ^ Condic, Maureen L. (2014-04-15). "Totipotency: What It Is and What It Is Not". Stem Cells and Development. 23 (8): 796–812. doi:10.1089/scd.2013.0364. ISSN 1547-3287. PMC 3991987. PMID 24368070.
  9. ^ Condic, Maureen L. (2001). "Adult Neuronal Regeneration Induced by Transgenic Integrin Expression". The Journal of Neuroscience. 21 (13): 4782–4788. doi:10.1523/JNEUROSCI.21-13-04782.2001. PMC 6762359. PMID 11425905.
  10. ^ Condic, Samuel B.; Condic, Maureen L. (29 June 2018). Human Embryos, Human Beings: A Scientific and Philosophical Approach. ISBN 978-0813230238.
  11. ^ Condic, Maureen L. (2020). Untangling Twinning: What Science Tells Us about the Nature of Human Embryos. ISBN 978-0268107055.
  12. ^ "APPENDIX A Affidavit of Dr. Maureen L. Condic, Ph.D. STATE OF". Retrieved 2018-12-01.
  13. ^ Biblical Creation & Apologetics Ministries (2017-04-12), Dr Maureen Condic Congressional Testimony: Fetal Pain at 8 Weeks..., retrieved 2018-12-01
  14. ^ "Dobbs Amicus Brief" (PDF). Charlotte Lozier Institute. Retrieved 4 August 2021.
  15. ^ a b c Lutkenhoff, Evan S.; Chiang, Jeffrey; Tshibanda, Luaba; Kamau, Evelyn; Kirsch, Murielle; Pickard, John D.; Laureys, Steven; Owen, Adrian M.; Monti, Martin M. (July 2015). "Thalamic and extrathalamic mechanisms of consciousness after severe brain injury: Brain Injury and Consciousness". Annals of Neurology. 78 (1): 68–76. doi:10.1002/ana.24423. hdl:2268/183269. PMID 25893530. S2CID 10774807.
  16. ^ Fuller, Patrick; Sherman, David; Pedersen, Nigel P.; Saper, Clifford B.; Lu, Jun (2011-04-01). "Reassessment of the structural basis of the ascending arousal system". The Journal of Comparative Neurology. 519 (5): 933–956. doi:10.1002/cne.22559. PMC 3119596. PMID 21280045.
  17. ^ Padilla, Nelly; Lagercrantz, Hugo (May 2020). "Making of the mind". Acta Paediatrica. 109 (5): 883–892. doi:10.1111/apa.15167. ISSN 0803-5253. PMID 31922622. S2CID 210133737.
  18. ^[bare URL PDF]
  19. ^ Moser, Julia; Schleger, Franziska; Weiss, Magdalene; Sippel, Katrin; Semeia, Lorenzo; Preissl, Hubert (2021-06-01). "Magnetoencephalographic signatures of conscious processing before birth". Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience. 49: 100964. doi:10.1016/j.dcn.2021.100964. ISSN 1878-9293. PMC 8163957. PMID 34023644. S2CID 235167579.
  20. ^ Institute, Social Trends. "Maureen Condic | Social Trends Institute". Retrieved 2018-12-01.