Taboo Trades

Bonus Episode: NFTs for Biobanking with Marielle Gross & Brian Frye

January 31, 2023 Kim Krawiec Season 3 Episode 13
Taboo Trades
Bonus Episode: NFTs for Biobanking with Marielle Gross & Brian Frye
Show Notes

Today, I'm joined by two fabulous guests: Marielle Gross, Assistant Professor of Obstetrics, Gynecology, and Reproductive Sciences at the University of Pittsburgh, and renaissance man, Brian Frye, the Spears-Gilbert Professor of Law at the University of Kentucky. 


Marielle provides clinical care at UPMC Altoona and her research focuses on the application of technology and elimination of bias as a means of promoting evidence-basis, equity and efficiency in women’s healthcare. Today, we’re discussing heny, Inc., a start up that Marielle founded that utilizes NFTs to allow breast cancer patients to remain connected to their biopsy results. When patients participate in research studies, their names and identifying features are taken off of their samples – in other words, they are deidentified. What this means is that if researchers find medically relevant information, they can’t pass that on to the patient. Nor can patients share in any of the profits that research on their tissue might generate. As we discuss in this episode, Marielle was inspired by the infamous Henrietta Lacks case to create a non-fungible NFT-like token that allows breast cancer patients to track and learn about research on their donated tumor and tissues. 


That’s where Brian Frye comes in: he teaches courses on patent and intellectural property law, and has published widely about NFTs. Many of his articles are linked in the show notes. Brian is also a filmmaker. He produced the documentary Our Nixon (2013), which was broadcast by CNN and opened theatrically nationwide. His short films and videos have shown in the 2002 Whitney Biennial, the New York Film Festival, and the San Francisco International Film Festival, among other venues, and are in the permanent collection of the Whitney Museum of American Art. If you don’t get enough of Brian in this episode, then make sure to listen to my earlier bonus episode: The Plagiarism Taboo with Brian Frye. 


Further reading and listening:


Marielle S Gross, MD; Amelia J Hood, MA; Robert C Miller Jr, BA, Nonfungible Tokens as a Blockchain Solution to Ethical Challenges for the Secondary Use of Biospecimens: Viewpoint, JMIR Bioinform Biotech 2021;2(1):e29905) doi: 10.2196/29905;


This Pitt professor’s startup applies NFTs to bioethics,, Sept. 13, 2022;


The Plagiarism Taboo with Brian Frye,


Frye, Brian L., NFTs & the Death of Art (April 19, 2021). Available at SSRN: or


Frye, Brian L., How to Sell NFTs Without Really Trying (September 25, 2021). 13 Harvard Journal of Sports and Entertainment Law 113 (2022), Available at SSRN:


Frye, Brian L., After Copyright: Pwning NFTs in a Clout Economy (November 25, 2021). 45 Colum. J.L.& Arts 341 (2022), Available at SSRN: or


Frye, Brian L., The Art of the Token (March 16, 2022). Stanford Journal of Blockchain Law & Policy, Available at SSRN: