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Bioethics 101

Recommended Reading

November 30, 2009

New Issue of Journal of the American Medical Association is Now Available

JAMA (Volume 302, Number 20, November 25, 2009) is now available by subscription only.

Articles include:

  • “The Proposed Excise Tax on Employee Health Insurance: Good Idea, or Too Clever by 40%?” by Samuel Y. Sessions and Allan S. Detsky, 2252-2253.
  • “HIV/AIDS-Still a Force to Be Reckoned With: Call for Papers” Gianna Zuccotti and Jeanette M. Smith, 2259.
  • “The First Composite Face and Maxilla Transplant” by Wayne F. Larrabee and Peter A. Hilger, 2250-2251.
  • “Hormone Therapy Use and Risk of Ovarian Cancer” by Alastair H. MacLennan and Rodney Baber, 2203.
  • “Improving Access to FDA Reviews and Dcouments” by Donald A. Tuttle, Larry D. Sasich, and Sana R. Sukkari, 2204.
  • “Safe Vaccination Usually Possible in Persons with Suspected Vaccine Allergies” by Mike Mitka, 2193.

New Issue of Archives of Internal Medicine is Now Available

Archives of Internal Medicine (Volume 169, Issue 21, November 23, 2009) is now available by subscription only.

Articles Include:

  • “Home is Where the Health Is: Advancing Team-Based Care in Chronic Disease Management” by Helene Levens Lipton, 1945-1948.
  • “Bringing the FDA’s information to Market” by Steven Woloshin and Lisa M. Schwartz, 1985-1987.

Event: Healthcare Ethics Workshop

SAVE THE DATE:  May 6 & 7, 2010

The annual UAMS two-day Intensive Healthcare Ethics Workshop is set for May 6 & 7, 2010 in Little Rock, AR.  This two-day workshop is designed for healthcare professionals interested in medical ethics and related topics.  As always, day one (Thursday, May 6th) consists of “The Basics”—an intensive focus on ethical methodologies, professional-patient relationships, informed consent, and other pertinent concepts.  This year day two (Friday, May 7th) is dedicate to the special topic, “Spirituality and Medicine,” and will consist of panels and presentations, including our featured guest, Daniel Sulmasy, OFM, MD, PhD, Kilbride-Clinton Professor of Medicine and Medical Ethics at the University of Chicago.

In order to sign-up for future e-mails about the workshop or to register for the conference, simply e-mail Carol VanPelt (, or  Registration is available for either or both days of the workshop, but the number of registrants will be limited.

New Issue of Journal of the American Medical Association is Now Available

JAMA (Volume 302, Number 19, November 18, 2009) is now available by subscription only.

Articles Include:

  • “FDA exercise new Authority to Regulate Tobacco Products, but Some Limits Remain” by Mike Mitka, 2078-2081.
  • “Caring for the World: A Guidebook to Global Health Opportunities” by Samuel Y. Sessions, 2154-2155.
  • “Practicing Medicine in Difficult Times: Protecting Physicians from Malpractice Litigation” by Alan G. Williams, 2158.

What Happens When Doctors Give Patients More Power?

When patients are given the responsibility for medical decisions, they may be less willing to try a potentially risky treatment, a study published Monday suggests. (ABC News)

Football’s blow to the head

On Sunday, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell made a startling concession to medical ethics – one resisted by his predecessors. He said that when a player sustains a concussion, teams will now be required to seek advice from “independent” neurologists. He said on NBC, “As we learn more and more, we want to give players the best medical advice. This is a chance for us to expand that and bring more people into the circle to make sure we’re making the best decisions for our players in the long term.” (Philadelphia Inquirer)

New stem cell technology leads to better treatment for complicated bone fractures

A novel technology involving use of stem cells, developed by Hebrew University of Jerusalem researchers, has been applied to provide better and rapid healing for patients suffering from complicated bone fractures. (PhysOrg)

November 27, 2009

Stem cells heal lungs of newborn animals: May lead to new treatments for lungs of premature babies

Dr. Bernard Thébaud lives in two very different worlds. As a specialist in the Stollery Children’s Hospital’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at the Royal Alexandra Hospital, he cares for tiny babies, many of whom struggle for breath after being born weeks before they are due. Across town, in his laboratory in the Faculty of Medicine & Dentistry at the University of Alberta, Dr. Thébaud dons a lab coat and peers into a microscope to examine the precise effect of stem cells on the lungs. (ScienceDaily)

November 25, 2009

Brain scans and neurotrash

The notion that “the mind is what the brain does” is catching fire in academia, especially in the trendy area of neuroscience. In other words, you — your personality, your most intimate self, your dreams, your convictions — are electrical circuits sparking in your gray matter. Recently, New York Times pundit David Brooks informed us that: (MercatorNet)

Morphological Freedom

In 2003, the idea that one might have a freedom to change one’s body and brain as one liked was being discussed in relation to the Transhumanist FAQ. This idea receives much less attention in the current FAQ, where it is largely replaced by a lesser freedom to enhance. This is interesting, because morphological freedom has significant implications. (IEET)

Catholic Church Orders Feeding Tubes For Vegetative State Cases Like Schiavo

The family of Terri Schiavo, the Florida woman who was artificially kept alive for 15 years, say they feel both heartbreak and vindication over the news this week that a Belgian man thought to be in a persistent vegetative state (PVS) was fully conscious for two decades. (ABC News)

November 24, 2009

Mammography and the Corporate Breast

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) would seem as unlikely a target for attack as Santa’s elves. For a quarter-century, this squeaky-clean, underappreciated group of doctors and nurses who are specialists in preventive medicine has toiled away in obscurity in the selfless service of public health. (Bioethics Forum)

The Cost of Dying

Every medical study ever conducted has concluded that 100 percent of all Americans will eventually die. This comes as no great surprise, but the amount of money being spent at the very end of people’s lives probably will. Last year, Medicare paid $50 billion just for doctor and hospital bills during the last two months of patients’ lives – that’s more than the budget of the Department of Homeland Security or the Department of Education. (CBS News)

Obama Names Chairs of New Bioethics Panel

President Barack Obama today established a new presidential council to advise him on bioethical matters. It replaces the sometimes controversial council that advised President George W. Bush. (ScienceInsider)

Event: Symposium on Pediatric Pharmacogenomics and Personalized Medicine

On April 29-30, Children’s Mercy Hospitals and Clinics in Kansas City, MO will be hosting a symposium on Pediatric Pharmacogenomics and Personalized Medicine.  A full afternoon session will be dedicated to presentations and discussions revolving around the Ethical Issues related to developing infrastructure for a pediatric personalized medicine program.  Topics include Ethical and Legal Barriers to Pediatric Bio-banking Initiatives, Critical Issues of Consent, Assent, and Distributive Justice in Pediatrics, Ethical Implications of Pediatric Genomics from a Regulatory Perspective, Pediatric Implications for Direct-to-Consumer Personal Genomics, and Challenges Facing Implementation of Personalized Medicine from a Japanese perspective.  Speakers include Skip Nelson, John Lantos, and Kyle Brothers.  For more information, please contact Mrs. Melonie Clifton at 816-234-3059 or

November 23, 2009

Autism treatment: Science hijacked to support alternative therapies

The Johns Hopkins neurologist and his colleagues had autopsied the brains of people with autism who died in accidents and found evidence of neuroinflammation. This rare look inside the autistic brain had the potential to increase understanding of the mysterious disorder. (Chicago Tribune)

New lethal injection policies put Ohio at center of legal and ethical debate over executions

Earlier this month, Ohio prison officials announced they will abandon the three-drug cocktail for lethal injection in favor of a single injection of a massive dose of barbiturates. If the execution team is unable to find a suitable vein, the drug will be injected into an inmate’s large muscle. (

Genetic screening of embryos

Genetic screening of human embryos may eventually eradicate inherited diseases ranging from breast cancer to cystic fibrosis. Using a technique known as pre-implantation genetic diagnosis (PGD), specialists can select a couple’s healthy embryo for implantation in the womb and discard ones that are damaged. (The Age)

November 20, 2009

Cervical cancer screening can wait till 21, group says

Women can delay having their first Pap test for cervical cancer until they turn 21 and many can wait longer to go back for follow-up screenings, according to new guidelines released Friday by a major medical group. (Washington Post)

Beijing’s poor visit illegal clinics

Beijing city government admits that the Chinese capital has a problem with illegal medical centres – known as black clinics. It closed down more than 3,300 of these unregulated and sometimes dangerous clinics last year alone. (BBC)

Embryonic stem cell therapy closer to human trials

Embryonic stem cell therapy got a step closer to the clinic Thursday after US researchers said they filed a request for government approval of human trials. The trials would involve 12 patients losing their sight to a currently untreatable disease called Stargardt, which is one of the most common forms of juvenile blindness. (AFP)


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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