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April 15, 2014

Genetics Leader Reflects on 50th Anniversary of Discovery of Genetic Code

(Baylor College of Medicine) – In 1959, postdoctoral associate Dr. Thomas Caskey, participated in the Nobel Prize winning work of Dr. Marshall Nirenberg that helped unravel the genetic code of life. It was not just a “one-trick pony,” Caskey reflected. Nirenberg won the Nobel Prize for this work which unveiled the set of rules by which information encoded without genetic material  (DNA or mRNA sequences) is translated into proteins by living cells.

April 14, 2014

Former NIH Stem-Cell Chief Joins New York Foundation

(Nature) – Stem-cell biologist Mahendra Rao, who resigned last week as director of the Center for Regenerative Medicine (CRM) at the US National Institutes of Health (NIH), has a new job. On 9 April, he was appointed vice-president for regenerative medicine at the New York Stem Cell Foundation (NYSCF), a non-profit organization that funds embryonic stem-cell research.

April 11, 2014

Budget Chief Is Obama’s Choice as New Health Secretary

(The New York Times) – On Friday, President Obama is to nominate Ms. Burwell, currently director of the White House Office of Management and Budget, to take over one of the largest and most unwieldy parts of the federal bureaucracy as secretary of health and human services. If confirmed, Ms. Burwell would replace Kathleen Sebelius, who is resigning.

Event: 21st Annual Summer Conference: Bioethics in Transition

The Center for Bioethics and Human Dignity
Bioethics in Transition
Trinity International University
Deerfield, Illinois
June 19 – 21, 2014

See here for more information.

April 8, 2014

Obsession with Health and Safety Is Killing Science, Claims James Lovelock

(The Telegraph) – The ‘religious’ obsession with health and safety is putting off a generation of children from science because they are banned from taking part in experiments, one of Britain’s leading scientists has claimed. James Lovelock, 94, who first detected CFCs in the atmosphere and proposed the Gaia hypotheses, which suggests the Earth is a self-regulating system, claims education has become a ‘tick box’ exercise which is doing nothing to inspire youngsters.

April 7, 2014

Jack Kevorkian’s Art on Sale

(CNN) – The painting is called “Coma.” It depicts an unconscious patient being slowly pulled into the mouth of a macabre death mask. Helpless. The death’s head resembles the opening of a CAT scan machine, a symbol of modern medical technology. It is the work of Dr. Jack Kevorkian, the man who bore the notorious nickname “Dr. Death.” He was a passionate advocate for allowing certain people to choose the time and manner of their own death. He claimed to have assisted in the suicides for more than 130 patients over a period of nearly 20 years.

April 3, 2014

NUS Biomedical Ethics Centre Made WHO Collaborating Centre

(Channel News Asia) – The Centre for Biomedical Ethics at the National University of Singapore’s (NUS) Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine has been appointed by the World Health Organization (WHO) as Asia’s first collaborating centre for bioethics. The centre joins four other collaborating centres in the world to support the WHO in developing work in the field of ethics and health, in areas such as organ transplantation, universal health coverage, managing non-communicable diseases and advancing mental health.

April 2, 2014

Push to Get Experimental Drugs with Social Media Pressure on the Rise

(ABC News) – For a growing number of gravely ill patients running out of options, social media has become their last bastion of hope. And they’re sharing their private struggles to motivate public action. A young newlywed woman smiles for a blog photo despite obvious signs of illness: a cannula in her nose, and a bald head. A group of doctors pose in their scrubs holding signs bearing hashtags to support a sick teen. A small, shirtless boy looks out at a camera with medical tape stuck to his chest and wires sticking out of his arms as his parents snap a picture.

March 28, 2014

Fictional Plotlines and Real Assisted Suicide

(The Atlantic) – The introduction of complex issues into television plots is both a driver and a reflection of cultural shifts. Once a subject gets widespread treatment in scripts, the popular conversation can take on a new urgency, giving people a common vocabulary and a common set of feelings about the characters they’ve come to care about. Now when we talk about aid in dying for those with unbearable suffering—which is legal, with certain restrictions, in five states, with legislation pending in seven more—we can think of Beadie on Girls.

March 27, 2014

Bioethicist Arthur Caplan Receives 2014 Public Service Award for an Individual

( – Today the National Science Board (NSB) announced that renowned bioethicist Arthur Caplan, a global leader in medical ethics, is the 2014 recipient of its Public Service Award for an individual. NSB’s Public Service Award honors an individual’s exemplary service in fostering public understanding of science and engineering. Arthur Caplan is the founding head of the Division of Bioethics at New York University Langone Medical Center in New York.

March 26, 2014

Hitler’s favorite American: “Biological Fascism” in the Shadow of New York City

(Salon) – Excerpted from ”Villains, Scoundrels, and Rogue:  Incredible True Tales of Mischief and Mayhem.” Growing up in Charlottesville, Virginia, in the early 1900s, young Carrie Buck impressed those she met as serious and self-possessed, someone whose quiet demeanor hinted at a life filled with challenges. Of humble origins—her widowed mother had given her up to foster care as a child—the stocky, darkhaired girl didn’t let her difficulties get her down. She enjoyed reading the newspaper, liked to fiddle with crossword puzzles, and always made herself useful around the house. She was a bit awkward in social situations, but otherwise she was a thoroughly average teenager. No one had any reason to think differently of her. Then something terrible occurred that changed Carrie’s life forever.

March 19, 2014

Monitoring and Regulation: The Need for Ethics in Medical Research Stressed

(The Express Tribune) – Mandatory ethical review of research involving human and animal subjects, though gradually taking root in Pakistani institutions, still faces several challenges, some of which threaten the very credibility of research conducted in the country, experts noted at a workshop organised at the University of Health Sciences (UHS) on Monday. The workshop on The Establishment of Institutional Bioethics Committees was organised by the UHS in collaboration with the Pakistan Medical Research Council (PMRC).

March 18, 2014

His Fertility Advance Draws Ire

(New York Times) – With a name that most Americans can’t pronounce (it is Shoe-KHRAHT Mee-tuhl-EE-pov) and an accent that sounds like the villain’s in a James Bond film, Dr. Mitalipov, 52, has shaken the field of genetics by perfecting a version of the world’s tiniest surgery: removing the nucleus from a human egg and placing it into another. In doing so, this Soviet-born scientist has drawn the ire of bioethicists and the scrutiny of federal regulators.

March 17, 2014

The Most Terrifying Kids’ Book

(Slate) – A good kids’ book delivers knowledge fundamental to living in the world, such as the (now apparently out of print) classic Everyone Poops. But Death Is Wrong, a new children’s title from transhumanist author Gennady Stolyarov, can only steer children toward confusion about mortality. The book encourages kids to help eradicate death with technology.

March 14, 2014

Ban on doctor’s group imperils Muslim minority in Myanmar

(New York Times) – Nearly 750,000 people, most of them members of a Muslim minority in one of the poorest parts of Myanmar, have been deprived of most medical services since the government banned the operations of Doctors Without Borders, the international health care organization and the main provider of medical care in the region. The government ordered a halt to the work of Doctors Without Borders two weeks ago after some officials accused the group of favoring the Muslims, members of the Rohingya ethnic group, over a rival group, Rakhine Buddhists.

Event: Ethics Teacher Training Course

UNESCO: The Division of Ethics and Global Change
Sector for Social and Human Services
Ethics and Teacher Training Course
June 30 – July 4, 2014
Dubrovnik, Croatia

See here for more information.

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
Washington, D.C.

See here for more information.


The Bioethics Poll
Should individuals and/or institutions be allowed to patent human genes?
Yes, with some qualifications

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Which area of research should more money be invested in:
Animal-Human Hybrids
Gene Therapy
Reproductive Technology
Stem Cell Research
"Therapeutic" Cloning
None of the above

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