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April 17, 2014

What It’s Like to Spend 20 Years Listening to Psychopaths for Science

(Wired) – Kiehl recounts the story in a new book about his research, The Psychopath Whisperer. He has been interviewing psychopaths for more than 20 years, and the book is filled with stories of these colorful (and occasionally off-color) encounters. (Actually, The Psychopath Listener would have been a more accurate, if less grabby title.) More recently he’s acquired a mobile MRI scanner and permission to scan the brains of New Mexico state prison inmates. So far he’s scanned about 3,000 violent offenders, including 500 psychopaths.

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.

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.

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 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 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

Cloning comeback

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)


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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