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 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 18, 2014
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.
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 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.
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)
January 20, 2014
Spanish stem cell star steps down
A pioneering Spanish stem cell center has suddenly lost its leader—and some worry it may lose most of its research projects as well. On Monday, developmental biologist Juan Carlos Izpisúa Belmonte stepped down as the director of the Center of Regenerative Medicine in Barcelona (CMRB), which he helped create almost a decade ago. (Science)
January 15, 2014
If the stain cannot be washed away, perhaps it can be stamped out of memory by hundreds of paws and hooves. With private funding from steadfast fans, Hwang opened Sooam in July 2006. He has since cloned hundreds of animals — dogs, cows, pigs and coyotes. His goals include producing drugs, curing diabetes and Alzheimer’s disease, providing transplantable organs, saving endangered species and relieving grief-stricken pet owners. He has a raft of publications in respectable journals, collaborations within and outside South Korea, and increasing institutional support from government agencies. (Nature)
January 14, 2014
Sam Berns, boy with ‘aging disease’ progeria, dies at 17
The 17-year-old boy who became the face of the progeria, the “Benjamin Button” disease, has died. Sam Berns died Friday from complications of the disease. Progeria is a fatal genetic condition that causes rapid aging. He was diagnosed at just 22 months old. His parents, Dr. Leslie Gordon and Dr. Scott Berns, reacted to his diagnosis by creating the Progeria Research Foundation in 1999 to find the cause of the disease and a cure. (ABC News)
January 2, 2014
Doctor in landmark abortion case dies of cancer
Dr. Kenneth Edelin, a Boston physician at the center of a landmark abortion case in the 1970s, died Monday morning in Sarasota, Florida. He was 74. Edelin’s wife, Barbara, confirmed that he died after suffering from cancer. (Washington Post)
December 28, 2013
A nurse gains fame in the days of polio
But thanks to “Polio Wars: Sister Kenny and the Golden Age of American Medicine,” a new biography by Naomi Rogers, a Yale University medical historian, readers can learn why she gained such fame. And while Ms. Kenny’s work was mostly in polio, which has nearly been eradicated, her emphasis on the care of individual patients and close bedside observation could not be more relevant in an era dominated by randomized controlled trials. (New York Times)
Interview with Dr. Eric Drexler
Interview with Dr. Eric Drexler during his recent book tour for Radical Abundance (PublicAffairs, 2013).
“To begin with, it’s important to understand that the prospects I describe involve something more than nanotechnology in the present sense — they involve developments that are outside the fields of material science and much simple nanoscale devices. The long-range revolutionary potential of developments at the nanoscale will come from atomically precise manufacturing, a technology analogous to digital information technologies or 3D printing: a general-purpose way to make intricate patterns of something, in this case, patterns of advanced materials that form advanced products of all kinds.” (Nanotechnology Now)
December 23, 2013
Early end-life plan for elderly in aging Japan
Japan’s Emperor Akihito surprised the nation last month when palace officials announced plans for his funeral. His wishes for a relatively modest one — and the act of planning ahead — were widely seen as a good example in this rapidly aging country. Akihito, who turns 80 on Monday, is still active, making an official visit to India in November with his wife, the 79-year-old Empress Michiko. But concerns have grown since he had heart bypass surgery nearly two years ago on top of prostate cancer earlier. (ABC News)
Marie Fleming dies after long battle with multiple sclerosis
Marie Fleming, who lost a landmark Supreme Court challenge for the right to an assisted suicide, died yesterday at the age of 59. Her partner Tom Curran said she died peacefully at home after her condition deteriorated. Ms Fleming, a university lecturer who was in the final stages of multiple sclerosis, had gone to court to be lawfully assisted to have a peaceful death at a time of her choosing without putting loved ones who helped her at risk of prosecution. (The Irish Times)
Inside the Bloomberg public health toolbox
As Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s term comes to a close, the latest research conducted by Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public indicates that he leaves a legacy of ambitious public health policies from pioneering restrictions on trans fats and smoking to investments in green spaces and bicycle lanes that have improved the health and increased the life expectancy of New Yorkers. The paper takes a behind-the-scenes look at the Bloomberg Administration to evaluate the evidence and build public support for improving health in the city—which also can serve as a blueprint for health policy in cities across the country. (Medical Xpress)
December 19, 2013
Janet Rowley, cancer genetics pioneer, dies at 88
Dr. Janet Rowley, a pioneer in cancer genetics research, has died at age 88. Rowley spent most of her career at the University of Chicago, where she also obtained her medical degree. She died Tuesday of ovarian cancer complications at her home nearby, the university said in a statement. Rowley conducted landmark research with leukemia in the 1970s, linking cancer with genetic abnormalities — work that led to targeted drug treatment for leukemia. (Washington Post)
December 18, 2013
Should exceptional people receive exceptional treatment?
There are approximately 150,000 human deaths each day around the world. Most of those deaths pass without much notice, yet in the last ten days one death has received enormous, perhaps unprecedented, attention. The death and funeral of Nelson Mandela have been accompanied by countless pages of newsprint and hours of radio and television coverage. Much has been made of what was, by any account, an extraordinary life. There has been less attention, though, on Mandela’s last months and days. One uncomfortable question has not been asked. Was it ethical for this exceptional individual to receive treatment that would be denied to almost everyone else? (Oxford Practical Ethics)
Philidelphia abortion doctor Gosnell gets 30 years for illegal drugs
A Philadelphia doctor already serving life in prison for performing rogue abortions has been sentenced to a concurrent 30 years for illegally distributing painkillers, including many later sold on the street by addicts and drug dealers. Dr. Kermit Gosnell, 72, is serving life without parole for killing three babies born alive during illegal abortions. That investigation grew out of complaints he ran a lucrative “pill mill” at his West Philadelphia clinic. (Fox News)
December 17, 2013
‘We tinker with assisted suicide laws at our peril’, warns Baroness Butler-Sloss
One of Britain’s most eminent authorities on end-of-life law has issued a warning against “tinkering” with assisted suicide on the eve of a landmark Supreme Court challenge. Baroness Butler-Sloss, the former President of the High Court Family Division, argued that the current law strikes a careful balance between justice and mercy, adding: “We tinker with it at our peril”. (The Telegraph)
December 6, 2013
Nelson Mandela, anti-apartheid icon and father of modern South Africa, dies
Freedom fighter, prisoner, moral compass and South Africa’s symbol of the struggle against racial oppression. That was Nelson Mandela, who emerged from prison after 27 years to lead his country out of decades of apartheid. He died Thursday night at age 95. His message of reconciliation, not vengeance, inspired the world after he negotiated a peaceful end to segregation and urged forgiveness for the white government that imprisoned him. (CNN)