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Bioethics 101

Recommended Reading

April 30, 2009

New Issue of Journal of Applied Philosophy is Now Available

Journal of Applied Philosophy (Volume 26, Issue 2, May 2009) is now available by subscription only.

Articles Include:

  • “Why ‘Health’ is not a Central Category for Public Health Policy” by Stephen John, 129-143.
  • “The Metaphysical Foundations of Reproductive Ethics” by Bertha Alvarez Manninen, 190-204.

Book Reviews Include:

  • “The Morality of Embryo Use – By Louis M. Guenin” by David Archard, 212-214.

New Issue of Biomedical Microdevices is Now Available

Biomedical Microdevices (Volume 11, Number 3, June 2009) is now available by subscription only.

Articles Include:

  • “Selective trapping of live and dead mammalian cells using insulator-based dielectrophoresis within open-top microstructures” by Chun-Ping Jen and Teng-Wen Chen, 597-607.
  • “An implantable MEMS drug delivery device for rapid delivery in ambulatory emergency care” by N. M. Elman, H. L. Ho Duc and M. J. Cima, 625-631.

New Issue of The American Journal of Bioethics is Now Available

The American Journal of Bioethics (Volume 9, Issue 5, 2009) is now available by subscription only.

Articles Include:

  • “Bioethics and the Explosive Rise of Animal Law” by Richard L. Cupp Jr., 1-2.
  • “Bioethical Considerations in Translational Research: Primate Stroke” by Michael E. Sughrue,  J. Mocco, Willam J. Mack, Andrew F. Ducruet, Ricardo J. Komotar, Ruth L. Fischbach, Thomas E. Martin, and E. Sander Connolly Jr., 3-12.
  • “The Legal Regulation of Primate Research” by Marie Fox, 13-15.
  • “Articulating the Balance of Interests Between Humans and Other Animals” by Samia A. Hurst and Alex Mauron, 17-19.
  • “Unintended Changes in Cognition, Mood, and Behavior Arising from Cell-Based Interventions for Neurological Conditions: Ethical Challenges” by  P. S. Duggan, A. W. Siegel, D. M. Blass, H. Bok,  J. T. Coyle, R. Faden;  J. Finkel, J. D. Gearhart, H. T. Greely, A. Hillis, A. Hoke,  R. Johnson, M. Johnston, J. Kahn, D. Kerr, P. King, J. Kurtzberg, S. M. Liao, J. W. McDonald, G. McKhann, K. B. Nelson, M. Rao, A. Regenberg, K. Smith, D. Solter, H. Song, J. Sugarman, R. J. Traystman, A. Vescovi, J. Yanofski, W. Young, and D. J. H. Mathews, 31-36.
  • “Ethical Challenges in Cell-Based Interventions for Neurological Conditions: Some Lessons To Be Learnt from Clinical Transplantation Trials in Patients with Parkinson’s Disease” by Elisabeth Hildt, 37-38.
  • “Changes in the Self: The Need for Conceptual Research Next to Empirical Research” by Maartje Schermer, 45-47.

‘Nursemaid’ cells reveal the best IVF eggs

GENETIC clues contained in the cells that nurse and nurture developing eggs could help identify which ones to choose for IVF.

There is currently little that can be done to predict which eggs are most likely to generate healthy embryos. After an egg has been fertilised, doctors can takebiopsies from early embryos or examine their shape to predict which are most likely to implant and produce healthy children. Despite this, around 8 out of 10 embryos conceived through IVF fail to implant when transferred to the womb. (NewScientist)

Brain-Computer Interface Posts Message on Twitter

Researchers used a simple brain-computer interface to post a message on the social networking Web site Twitter, an achievement that shows the potential for developing new communications systems for people whose bodies don’t work but who have normal brain function. (Forbes)

Law triggers IVF tourism in Germany

… According to German law, a woman can have up to three embryos planted in her womb, but unlike in other countries, there is no selection process – so these embryos are not chosen from a larger number.

Crucially, all of the embryos must be used, and not disposed of or frozen. (Russia Today)

First in wave of healthcare policy proposals debuts

The first pieces of what will become sweeping legislation to overhaul the nation’s healthcare system have arrived at last.

The proposals float a new payment system for doctors and a new focus on primary care and care coordination for patients. (Boston Globe)

Better Targeting Of Stem Cells As Medication

Until now, it has been extremely difficult to control stem cells in such a way that they grow into new blood vessels outside the body, or – when injected into an organ – lead to the creation of new small blood vessels and tissue repair.

esearch conducted by medical biologist Guido Krenning* of the University Medical Center Groningen has resulted in a method whereby the cells can be instructed. This is a great advance towards curing numerous life-threatening diseases. (ScienceDaily)

April 29, 2009

S.Korea lifts ban on stem cell research

South Korea on Wednesday conditionally lifted a ban on stem cell research using human eggs, three years after outlawing the practice because a scientist was found to have faked his work. (PhysOrg)

Laser-Controlled Humans Closer to Reality

Using lasers, researchers at the MIT Media Lab were able to activate a specific set of neurons in a monkey’s brain. Though the technique has been used to control and explore neural circuits in fish, flies and rodents, this is the first time the much-hyped technology has ever been used in primates. (Wired Science)

California’s Stem Cell Scientists Fear Federal Red Tape

The federal government has opened the door for human embryonic stem cell research, and it’s now figuring out which ethical strings to attach. But California researchers are worried that the expected limits could still cause them aggravation if they don’t jibe with standards set out by their own funding body, the California Institute of Regenerative Medicine (CIRM). Issues involving both consent and the source of the embryos are under discussion. (ScienceInsider)

Top Medical Panel Urges Doctors to Stop Taking Gifts From Drug Makers

In a scolding report, the nation’s most influential medical advisory group said doctors should stop taking much of the money, gifts and free drug samples they routinely accept from drug and device companies. (New York Times)

April 28, 2009

FDA allows uncleared uses of flu drugs, tests

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration authorized emergency uses of the flu drugs Tamiflu and Relenza on Monday and a diagnostic test to help get a grip on a new strain of swine flu, the agency said on Monday. (Reuters)

The Devil Inside Wired Medicine

When the Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh installed a digital drug-ordering system to replace its old paper one in late 2002, the medication error rate declined sharply. But a strange thing happened among some of the sickest kids: Five months after the system was installed, the death rate for kids transferred to the hospital from other institutions had more than doubled. (Forbes)

Op-Ed: Reforming Health Care

Of the many possible issues that could snarl health-care reform, one of the biggest is whether the measure should include a government-run health plan to compete with private insurers. The public plan has become an unfortunate litmus test for both sides. The opposition to a public plan option is understandable; conservatives, health insurers, health-care providers and others see it as a slippery step down the slope to a single-payer system because, they contend, the government’s built-in advantages will allow it to unfairly squash competitors. (Washington Post)

Cloning Heats Up as Next Bioresearch Fight

As the Obama administration prepares to greatly expand the government’s investments in embryonic stem cell research, the next big biomedical research debate in Congress is shaping up: whether to allow government funding of experiments using cloned human embryos. (CQ Politics)

Storm over embryo ‘bank’ which could be used as a body repair kit

Government legal and ethical experts are to discuss whether families can ‘bank’ embryos not just for procreation but also for use by doctors to create personalised treatments for parents and their children. (Daily Mail)

New Issue of Sociology of Health & Illness is Now Available

Sociology of Health & Illness (Volume 31, Issue 4, May 2009) is now available by subscription only.

Articles Include:

  • “Indeterminacy and technicality revisited: how medicine and nursing have responded to the evidence based movement” by Michael Traynor, 494-507.
  • “‘Futureless persons’: shifting life expectancies and the vicissitudes of progressive illness” by Barbara E. Gibson, Hilde Zitzelsberger, and Patricia McKeever, 554-568.
  • “Eugenic utopias/dystopias, reprogenetics, and community genetics” by Aviad E. Raz, 602-616.

Book Reviews Include:

  • The logic of care: health and the problem of patient choice - by Mol, A.” by Moira Kelly, 618-619.
  • Ethnicity, Health and Health Care: Understanding diversity, tackling disadvantage - Edited by Ahmad, W.I.U. and Bradby, H.” by Simon Dyson, 619-620.
  • Critical Perspectives in Public Health - by Green, J. and Labonte, R. and Citizens at the Centre: Deliberative participation in healthcare decisions - by Davies, C., Wetherall, H. and Barrett, E.” by Helen Roberts, 620-621.
  • Human Cloning in the Media: From science fiction to science practice - by Haran, J., Kitzinger, J., McNeil, M., and O’Riordan, K” by Richard Elliott, 622-623.
  • Undertaking Sensitive Research in the Health and Social Sciences: Managing boundaries, emotions and risks - by Dickson-Swift, V., James, E.L. and Liamputtong, P.” by Rosaline S. Barbour, 623-624.

Public Consultation on Medical Profiling and Online Medicine

Launch of consultation on medical profiling and online medicine: the ethics of ‘personalised’ health care in a consumer age 

The Nuffield Council on Bioethics is holding a public consultation on the ethical issues raised by online healthcare, telemedicine and commercial medical profiling technologies such as DNA testing and body imaging. These technologies and services are increasingly focused on the individual, and often mean that the GP is no longer involved in healthcare.

The Council would like to hear the views of a wide range of people, including those using or contemplating using these services, those involved in providing them in the public and private context, researchers, academics, regulators, policy makers and others. Responses to the consultation will be carefully considered, and a report setting out the Council’s findings will be published in spring 2010.

Deadline for responses: 21st July 2009

Find out more:

Related media coverage:

The Times:
Ethics inquiry to judge challenges of genetic testing

 BBC Online News
Fears over web health revolution

Expensive private health MOTs could be doing ‘more harm than good’

Event: UNESCO Ethics Teacher Training Course

The Division of Ethics of Science and Technology
Sector for Social and Human Sciences

UNESCO Ethics Teacher Training Course in Windhoek, Namibia (24-28 August 2009)

One of the activities undertaken to disseminate information concerning the Universal Declaration on Bioethics and Human Rights, adopted in 2005 by UNESCO, is the Ethics Education Program. This program is mapping existing teaching programs in the area of ethics in the Member States of UNESCO. The various programs are described, discussed in expert meetings, and made available in the Global Ethics Observatory ( Experiences concerning the contents, intensity, methods and materials of existing programs are therefore publicly accessible and can be exchanged among experts. Teachers who want to initiate ethics teaching can find suggestions and ideas in the database. UNESCO has organised meetings with ethics teaching experts in the previous years inBudapest, Moscow, Split, Muscat, Istanbul, Marrakesh and Abidjan. In 2009 similar meetings will take place in Dakar, Senegal and Kinshasa, DR Congo.

The quality of ethics teaching programs, however, substantially depends on the quality of the teachers. Ethics teaching can be made much more influential and attractive for students if it is presented by a highly qualified, stimulating and inspiring teacher. In order to promote the quality of ethics teaching, UNESCO has developed an Ethics Teacher Training Course. The first course has taken place in Bucharest, Romania and has been a very positive experience. Subsequent courses have taken place since 2007 in Egerton University, Kenya (in cooperation with the UNESCO Chair in Bioethics in Kenya), in Bratislava, Slovak Republic, in Riyadh, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and in Minsk, Belarus.

The next Ethics Teacher Training Course will take place from 24 until 28 August 2009 at the University of Namibia, Windhoek.

This course will provide training to ethics teachers with the purpose to enhance their skills and abilities. It aims particularly at a younger generation of university teachers so that ethics teaching programs in the near future can expand and improve in all Member States of UNESCO. The course is supported by the Universityof Namibia and the Namibia National Commission for UNESCO. It is organised in cooperation with the UNESCO Chair in Bioethics in Haifa, Israel.

We would like to bring this new initiative to your attention, encouraging you to stimulate young teachers to use this opportunity to enhance their competencies in the field of ethics teaching. More information as well as a registration form can be found on the SHS website:

April 27, 2009

Gov. Brad Henry’s stem cell veto stirs new fight

Republican legislators are poised today to attempt an override of the Democratic governor’s veto of a bill that would have made it a crime for a scientist to perform any form of embryonic stem cell research.

Gov. Brad Henry waited until after the House adjourned about 11 p.m. Wednesday to veto House Bill 1326. He waited out legislators Wednesday night to give him and bill opponents such as business leaders and health care providers more time to persuade lawmakers to sustain his veto. Wednesday was the deadline for the governor to veto the bill. (The Oklahoman


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

View results

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

View results

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your global information source on bioethics news and issues