March 6, 2014
‘How We Die’ author Nuland dies in Conn. at age 83
(ABC News) – Dr. Sherwin Nuland, a medical ethicist who opposed assisted suicide and wrote an award-winning book about death called “How We Die,” has died at age 83. He died of prostate cancer on Monday at his home in Hamden, said his daughter Amelia Nuland, who recalled how he told her he wasn’t ready for death because he loved life.
March 5, 2014
For his next act, genome wiz Craig Venter takes on aging
(Reuters) – Craig Venter, the U.S. scientist who raced the U.S. government to map the human genome over a decade ago and created synthetic life in 2010, is now on a quest to treat age-related disease. Venter has teamed up with stem cell pioneer Dr Robert Hariri and X Prize Foundation founder Dr Peter Diamandis to form Human Longevity Inc, a company that will use both genomics and stem cell therapies to find treatments that allow aging adults to stay healthy and functional for as long as possible.
February 26, 2014
Toronto doctors sentenced for abusing sedated patients
(BBC) – A Canadian doctor who sexually assaulted 21 sedated patients while they helplessly watched has been sentenced to 10 years in prison. Anaesthesiologist George Doodnaught, 65, abused the women, aged 25 to 75, while they were in his care. The victims testified that they had been conscious when Doodnaught kissed, fondled and assaulted them, but they were unable to move.
February 24, 2014
Are robots about to rise? Google’s new director of engineering thinks so…
(The Guardian) – Ray Kurzweil popularised the Teminator-like moment he called the ‘singularity’, when artificial intelligence overtakes human thinking. But now the man who hopes to be immortal is involved in the very same quest – on behalf of the tech behemoth.
February 20, 2014
Event: The Third Annual Regional Clinical Ethics Symposium
The Center for Ethics at MedStar Washington Hospital Center
Third Annual Regional Clinical Ethics Symposium
April 12, 2014
See here for more information.
February 18, 2014
I never wanted to be a cancer expert, but then my wife got sick. A caregiver’s tale.
(Washington Post) – It was my wife’s first colonoscopy; it turned out to be the only one she ever had. She was 53. Whether Cheryl would have lived longer if she’d had the exam earlier I’ll never know. She died in the fall of 2013, in her sixth season with cancer. Cheryl had exhibited no symptoms prior to the test. Absent a family history of colon cancer, the standard protocol is to have the test after turning 50. Needless to say, we were shocked when the doctor showed us the scans indicating that the test was positive for cancer.
Fearing a shootout at the E.R. corral
(New York Times) – My emergency unit handled a man who had been shot in the leg in the early hours of the morning. The trauma surgeons refused to have him transferred to the ward for wound management because they believed the victim would be pursued by his assailants, thereby posing a safety risk to staff members and patients.
A gentle guide at life’s end
(Las Vegas Review Journal) – Dr. Warren Wheeler begins his workday with morning rounds. Accompanied by a handful of students and medical staff members, Wheeler visits his patients and greets them by name, introduces himself and asks how they feel, whether they are experiencing any pain and whether they feel comfortable. They’re the sort of questions most doctors ask patients during rounds. But it takes a few minutes to notice the small touches of dignity and compassion that Wheeler weaves into each patient interaction.
Event: 12th World Congress of Bioethics
Inspire the Future to Move the World
International Associate of Bioethics 12th World Congress of Bioethics
June 25-28, 2014
The Hilton Mexico City Reforma Hotel
Mexico City, Mexico
See here for more information.
February 12, 2014
After more than 50 years, a dispute over Downs syndrome discovery
(Science) – It would have been a personal triumph for Marthe Gautier, an 88-year-old pediatric cardiologist and scientist living in Paris. On 31 January, during a meeting in Bordeaux, Gautier was to receive a medal for her role in the discovery of the cause of Down syndrome in the late 1950s. In a speech, she planned to tell an audience of younger French geneticists her story about the discovery—and how she felt the credit she deserved went to a male colleague, Jérôme Lejeune.
February 7, 2014
As seen on TV, a medical mystery involving hip implants is solved
(New York Times) – By a strange coincidence, two leading medical journals on Thursday published case studies of the same arcane medical mystery. In one, doctors solved the riddle only after the patient, a middle-aged woman, got so sick she had to have a heart transplant. But in the other, a physician who teaches at the University of Marburg in Germany found the clues in Season 7, Episode 11, of the Fox television show “House.”
February 6, 2014
At 90, this doctor is still calling
(New York Times) – Catherine Hamlin, an Australian gynecologist who has spent most of her life in Ethiopia, is a 21st-century Mother Teresa. She has revolutionized care of a childbirth injury called obstetric fistula, which occurs when the baby gets stuck in the birth canal and there is no doctor to perform a cesarean section. As many as two million women (and often young teenage girls) worldwide suffer from fistulas. The babies die, and the woman is left incontinent with urine and sometimes feces trickling through her vagina.
February 4, 2014
Sherlock’s text messages reveal our transhumanism
(Wired UK) – Since then, that technique — floating words representing text messages, internet searches, or some other form of technological interface — has become a core element of the series’ identity. And while there are plenty of tech-savvy shows out there, it’s that technique that makes Sherlock so incisive: not only is it reflective of our practices, but more importantly, it says as much about us as it does about its characters.
February 3, 2014
As artificial intelligence grows, so do ethical concerns
(San Francisco Gate) – The price tag and the specifics of the deal remain unclear, but Google will set up an ethics board to oversee DeepMind’s artificial intelligence projects, according to the Information website. The price tag and the specifics of the deal remain unclear, but Google will set up an ethics board to oversee DeepMind’s artificial intelligence projects, according to the Information website. And those questions could start popping up soon, says Eliezer Yudkowsky, a fellow at the Machine Intelligence Research Institute. He says ethics boards should be more common because computer technology is evolving so quickly that an explosion of artificial intelligence might not be far off.
January 31, 2014
Event: Disability Rights Leadership Institute on Bioethics
Sponsors: National Disability Leadership Alliance, Autistic Self Advocacy Network, Disability Rights Education & Defense Fund, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition, Not Dead Yet
Disability Rights Leadership Institute on Bioethics
April 25 and 26, 2014
Crystal City Marriott
See here for registration information.
January 28, 2014
When judges believe in ‘Natural Law’
This year the U.S. Supreme Court will rule on at least two cases that weigh constitutional and statutory law against religious or moral beliefs. Both involve challenges to the Obamacare provision that requires for-profit companies to offer health insurance policies that cover contraception. In Conestoga Wood Specialties Corp. v. Secretary, etc., a national wood-supply company and its owners assert that they are entitled to an exemption based on their Mennonite owners’ view that contraception “is intrinsic evil and a sin against God to which they are held accountable.” In Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc., et al. v. Sibelius, Hobby Lobby and its owners argue that they operate under Christian principles and that it would be “immoral” for them to provide contraception coverage. (The Atlantic)
January 23, 2014
Education: Embed social awareness in science curricula
As a social scientist who is also trained as an engineer, I am puzzled by how often public-welfare and social-justice issues are viewed as irrelevant or tangential to ‘real’ technical work in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) professions. I carried out a study, the results of which suggest that university education exacerbates this culture of disengagement. Between 2003 and 2008, I surveyed a total of more than 300 engineering students in four US universities — a large state college, an elite technical college, a small engineering-only university and a small private liberal-arts college. Following students from their first year to 18 months after their graduation, I found that, on average, they left their degrees less interested in public welfare than when they began. (Nature)
January 22, 2014
The urge to dehumanise others is itself all too human
Rival sides in such conflicts describe each other in ways that deny their shared humanity: they may liken each other to vermin, or pests to be exterminated. The words onlookers use to describe such conflicts – bloody religious factionalism in the Central African Republic, for example, or the civil war in Syria – are also animalistic: perpetrators are “brutal”, while their victims are “slaughtered”. (New Scientist)
January 21, 2014
Dr. Donald Morton, melanomo expert who pioneered a cancer technique, dies at 79
Dr. Donald L. Morton, a son of an Appalachian coal miner who gained renown as a surgeon for helping to develop a widely used technique for detecting and treating certain kinds of cancer, died on Jan. 10 in Santa Monica, Calif. He was 79. (New York Times)
A risk in caring for abusive parents
We know relatively little about how many adults become caregivers for abusive or neglectful parents, or about why they choose to — or not to. But thanks to a recent study, we can see that those who report having endured childhood maltreatment are particularly vulnerable to depression if they later care for their parents. This finding emerged from a study by two Boston College researchers, using 2003 to 2005 data from a continuing survey in Wisconsin. (New York Times)
Sebelius: MLK said no American dream without healthcare access
The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. described inequality in healthcare as the “most shocking and inhumane” form of injustice, a U.S. health official says. Kathleen Sebelius, secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, said as America honors the life of King and his legacy of fighting for racial equality, human rights and economic justice, his words concerning inequality in healthcare still resonate because there is nothing more essential to obtaining the American dream than good health. (UPI)