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September 30, 2008

Schwarzenegger vetoes California stem cell bill

Schwarzenegger said the bill would have eliminated the priority for funding human embryonic stem cell research and would have placed restrictions on CIRM’s oversight committee to adopt intellectual property policies that balance patient need and medical research. (San Jose Business Journal)

LaBruzzo plan to sterilize poor women brings to mind Adolf Hitler, David Duke, some say

State Rep. John LaBruzzo reminded some New Orleanians of white supremacist and former KKK Grand Wizard David Duke last week when he told New Orleans CityBusiness of his plans to consider introducing new legislation that would pay poor women $1,000 to voluntariily have their tubes tied in order to avoid getting pregnant in the future. (Louisiana Weekly)

$2.5 million for Assisted Suicide

Big bucks from ex-Gov. Booth Gardner and the American Civil Liberties Union have boosted to $2.542 million the campaign war chest for Initiative 1000, which would legalize physician assisted suicide in Washington. (Seattle PI)

Schwarzenegger grapples with new medical insurance laws

As he considers 10 bills passed by the Legislature that would expand what insurers must pay for, he must balance improved coverage with the risk of driving costs so high that people can’t afford it. (Los Angeles Times)

India: Draft law tightens surrogacy norms

Having a test-tube baby may now involve hiring a lawyer along with a doctor. India’s new draft rules on infertility state that couples who need a surrogate mother will have to approach a semen bank instead of an infertility specialist to make a selection. (The Times of India)

Paying Workers to Go Abroad for Health Care

In an effort to control rising costs, a small but growing number of insurers and employers are giving people the choice to seek treatment in other countries, a practice known as medical tourism. Until recently, most Americans who traveled abroad for medical care were uninsured, or were seeking procedures not covered by insurance, such as cosmetic dentistry or aesthetic surgery. Now, a handful of plans are beginning to cover treatment overseas for heart surgery, hip and knee replacements and other major surgical procedures. (Wall Street Journal)

September 29, 2008

The brains behind a blade runner

Besides producing carefully adapted artificial limbs to change the lives of disabled people, the world’s only major listed prosthetics maker is also looking ahead to the day when robotics and neuroscience can change those of many. (Reuters)

Stem cells: Time to make good on promises

If a mathematical equation could demonstrate the commercial vitality of stem cells, it would probably look something like this: Hype/Reality=Anxiety.

For all of the ooohs and ahhhs on display at last week’s World Stem Cell Summit, there was also a prevailing sense among some investors and industry officials that all of this great technology must soon put up — or shut up. (Star Tribune)

New issue of The American Journal of Bioethics is available

Volume 8, Issue 8 of The American Journal of Bioethics is available by subscription only.  Relevant articles include:

“The Green Revolution in Bioethics” by David Magnus, 1-2
“Ethics, Pandemics, and the Duty to Treat” by Heidi Malm; Thomas May; Leslie P. Francis; Saad B. Omer; Daniel A. Salmon; Robert Hood, 4-19
“Ethical Implications of Implantable Radiofrequency Identification (RFID) Tags in Humans” by Kenneth R. Foster; Jan Jaeger, 44-48
“Who Is Buying Bioethics Research?” by Richard R. Sharp; Angela L. Scott; David C. Landy; Laura A. Kicklighter, 54-58

Event: Neuroscience 2008

Neuroscience 2008
Annual Meeting of the Society for Neurosecience
November 15-19, 2008
Washington, DC

Event: Annual Meeting of the Neuroethics Society

Annual Meeting of the Neuroethics Society
The first meeting of the Neuroethics Society will take place on November 13- 14, 2008, in Washington, DC at the headquarters of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. The meeting will feature an exciting line-up of invited and contributed papers, break-out groups, posters, a business meeting and ample opportunities for informal discussion and interaction.  Email:

Event: Implanted Mind? The Neuroethics of Intracerebral Stem Cell Transplantation

Implanted Mind? The Neuroethics of Intracerebral Stem Cell Transplantation
Heinrich-Heine-University Düsseldorf, Castle Mickeln, November 6-8, 2008

This wide-ranging conference will include plenary lectures from eminent scholars in the field alongside panel seminars, author-meets-critics sessions, outreach activities, and social receptions.
Individual papers are invited in all areas concerned with “Neuroethics of intracerebral stem cell transplantation”, broadly construed. The presentations shall outline the interdisciplinary dimensions and perspectives of the connections between neuroethics and intracerebral stem cell transplantation.

PD Dr. Heiner Fangerau
Institute for the History of Medicine
Heinrich-Heine-University Duesseldorf
Universitaetsstrasse 1
Building 23.12.04
D-40225 Duesseldorf
Tel. +49 (0) 211 81 – 13940
Fax. +49 (0) 211 81 13949

Event: International Congress: “A Gift for Life – Considerations on Organ Donation”, Rome, Italy, 6-8 November 2008

International Congress: “A Gift for Life – Considerations on Organ Donation”, Rome, Italy, 6-8 November 2008
he Pontifical Academy Pro Life (PAV), the World Federation of Catholic Medical Associations (FIAMC) and the Italian National Transplant Centre (CNT) are organizing an international congress on “A Gift for Life – Considerations on Organ Donation” in Rome, Italy, from 6-8 November 2008.  The Congress will be a meeting of people from all over the world, at which the organ donating activities of five continents will be represented. Papers will be presented pertaining to scientific and medical, as well as to organizational, legal and ethical, aspects of organ donation.

For more information, please contact:
Arianna Caldon (Key Congress & Communication)

Tel: +39 049 8729511

Event: 12th Conference on Artificial Intelligence in Medicine

When: July 18-22, 2009
Where: Veronda, VR. Italy

The AIME’09 conference will be a unique opportunity to present and improve the international state of the art of AI in BioMedicine from both perspectives of theory, methodology, and application. For this purpose, AIME’09 will include invited lectures, full and short papers, tutorials, workshops, and a doctoral consortium.  Original contributions are sought regarding the development of theory, techniques, and applications of AI in BioMedicine, including the exploitation of AI approaches to molecular medicine and biomedical informatics.

Pitt stem-cell procedure gives hope for regrowing limbs

Regaining a quarter-inch of his missing left index finger makes playing a human guinea pig worthwhile for Army Staff Sgt. Shilo Harris. The first soldier to volunteer for an experimental procedure pioneered by a Pittsburgh researcher, Harris said he knows most people aren’t impressed with his new stub but it represents progress for soldiers maimed in combat. (Pittsburgh Tribune-Review)

Op-Ed: Will We Need a Bailout of the Health Care System, Too?

What is the likely spill over to health care from the misbehavior of the financial system’s owners, operators, and managers?   I’m going to suggest there are likely to be both direct and indirect effects.  One of the indirect effects is that we may lose faith in doctors, nurses, and hospitals, or at least come to suspect that the practice of their craft and trade is not aligned with their espoused principles of “doing no harm” and acting in our best interests.  (The Health Care Blog)

September 26, 2008

Taking Time for Empathy

Listening to transcripts and recordings of 20 conversations between men with lung cancer and their doctors, Dr. Diane Morse of the University of Rochester School of Medicine and her colleagues identified 384 “empathic opportunities” in the discussions — moments when a doctor might respond with a few words to address patient concerns ranging from fear of illness and death, to mistrust about care and the health care system, to confusion about treatment. (New York Times)

Gene Therapy Restores Sight

The individuals — their identities remain confidential — are participants in an early-stage clinical trial of gene therapy for Leber’s Congenital Amaurosis, a rare and untreatable form of congenital blindness.

Though the trial was designed to test the therapy’s safety rather than its efficacy, its benefits were so impressive that the researchers decided to publicize their results. (Wired)

UK health body calls for Ritalin ban

The National Health Service in Britain has called for doctors to stop prescribing the controversial drug Ritalin for children under five years old. (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)

Cell ‘rebooting’ technique sidesteps risks

Writing in Science1, a team led by biologist Konrad Hochedlinger of Harvard Medical School in Boston, Massachusetts, describes how it transformed mouse tail and liver cells into an embryonic-like state. And unlike other scientists who had previously made such ‘induced pluripotent stem cells’, or iPS cells, Hochedlinger’s team did not use a virus that integrates itself into a cell’s genome to ‘reboot’ the cells. Instead, the team used an adenovirus, which keeps out of a cell’s own DNA, avoiding the potential for serious side-effects such as cancer, which might result from viral disruption of a cell’s DNA. (Nature)

Eli Lilly To Disclose Payment Amounts To Doctors

In an industry first, Eli Lilly and Co. says it will begin disclosing how much money it paid to individual doctors nationally for advice, speeches and other services. (MyFox)


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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