Greetings from Stephen Latham, Director

Please join me on Wednesday at 12:30 at the Yale Art Gallery for a gallery-talk on Art and Empathy at the End of Life. Tanya Pohrt (Tucker Senior Curatorial Fellow, American Paintings and Sculpture) and I will lead an hour-long look at several of the museum’s objects dealing with death and dying. This will be our second time presenting this talk (we had a wonderful event last night, co-sponsored by the Connecticut Coalition to Improve End-of-Life Care), so we’ll be well-practiced!

Mark your calendars: On Monday, October 21, our Technology and Ethics group will host an event at the Law School featuring Christof Heyns, UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions and Director of the University of Pretoria’s Institute for International and Comparative Law in Africa. Heyns will speak on “Lethal Autonomous Robots: the legal implications and the path forward.” Details below! On Tuesday, October 22, Jonathan Moreno (Bioethics, UPenn) will give our annual Robert Levine Lecture on “Mind Wars: Brain Science and the Military in the 21st Century.” And on Tuesday the 29th, Sidney Callahan (Psychology and Bioethics, Hastings Center) will give our annual Margaret Farley Lecture, entitled “Confronting Religious Experience: Where Theology and Psychology Meet.” Details in the links and below.

Congratulations to Animal Ethics co-convener emeritus Joel Marks on the publication of “Animal Abolitionism Meets Moral Abolitionism” in the October issue of the Journal of Bioethical Inquiry!

As ever, if there’s something you’d like to have included in this newsletter, email it to me at, with the word “Frimail” in your subject line.

Technology & Ethics event
Monday, October 21
4:15 PM

127 Wall St, room 121
Speaker: Christof Heyns, UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions and Director: Institute for International and Comparative Law in Africa, Faculty of Law, University of Pretoria
Topic: Lethal Autonomous Robots: the legal implications and the path forward


October 22, 2013

5 PM
77 Prospect Street
Room A002

Jonathan D Moreno, PhD
David and Lyn Silfen University Professor of Ethics,
Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania

Mind Wars: Brain Science and the Military in the 21st Century


October 29, 2013

5 PM
77 Prospect Street
Room A002

Sidney Callahan, PhD

Distinguished Scholar
The Hastings Center

Confronting Religious Experience:
Where Theology and Psychology Meet

  Updates from the Summer Institute

Campus Events

Conferences & Off Campus Events

Grants, Fellowships & Jobs

Calls for Papers & Nominations



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Updates from the Summer Institute

From Associate Director Carol Pollard

Boris Lopicich is now attending the London School of Economics.  He is enrolled in a MSc program in Environmental Policy and Regulation.  (Congratulations Boris, and I hope you make contact with other past summer students now attending LSE and other programs in the UK!)

Jack Brackney will be attending the ASBH meeting this month.  He wants to meet with any past  Summer Institute students and instructors who will be attending.  Please let him know if you will be attending!  (

Shawna Benston wants you to come to a symposium she’s organizing at the Benjamin Cardozo  School of Law (Yeshiva University, NYC).  Details follow.  (Congratulations Shawna!  I hope it’s a great success!)  On Monday, November 18th, 2013, Cardozo Law School's Journal of Conflict Resolution will present its Annual Symposium, "Bioethics, Healthcare Policy, and Alternative Dispute Resolution in the Age of Obamacare."  The conference will examine the possibilities for conversation, negotiation, and dispute resolution within the healthcare arena, including how such conversation and alternative dispute resolution opportunities will evolve as provisions of the Affordable Healthcare Act ("Obamacare") continue to be implemented.  We will bring together prominent experts, scholars, and practitioners in the intersecting realms of bioethics and conflict resolution.  The event is free and open to the public. To view a full schedule of events and register, please click here.  To learn more about the Cardozo Journal of Conflict Resolution, please visit our website. Our Symposium participants will include: Adrienne Asch, Edward Bergman, Nancy Berlinger, Arthur Caplan, Nancy Dubler, Autumn Fiester, Debra Gerardi, Mindy Hatton, Michael Kosnitzky, Carol Liebman, Joe Miller, Thaddeus Pope, Charity Scott, Michelle Skipper, and Ellen Waldman. CLE accreditation is pending.  This event has previously been approved.  An updated announcement will be sent out as soon as accreditation has been granted. Questions?  Contact Shawna Benston, Editor-in-Chief of the Cardozo Journal of Conflict Resolution, at

Agata Bloswick writes: “November 11/12 I hope to be in New Haven and would be happy to see you, Bob Levine, and some of the Summer Institute staff.”  (We’ll be waiting for you Agata!)

Csaba Bardosy will be back at the Bioethics Center at the end of October (October 23 – December 23) doing research in a number of different areas.  “I'm considering the study of the ‘afterlife’ of the recent Myriad decision and also Monsanto market practices with GMO, including, for example, FDA's licensing procedure, along with a comparison with European regulations and legislature procedures." (We look forward to welcoming you, Csaba!)

Ruth Retasse has published another article in the October issue of BioNews (UK) titled “The Jolie Effect: Breast cancer gene testing increases, but so do surgery requests.”  (Congratulations Ruth!)

The Washington D.C. Summit on Cross-Continental Cooperation 2013 is now scheduled for November 4th.  The title is “Future Prospects in Enhancing Continental Cooperation to Secure Political, Economic, and Social Progress.”  The Institute for Cultural Diplomacy (ICD) is sponsoring this program and offers BA and MA programs in Cultural Diplomacy.  I hope you understand how important this field of study is!  If you have an interest in attending this symposium or in taking one of the BA or MA programs, please contact Mark Donfried (  To find out what “cultural diplomacy” is, please see their website or watch this video. The tools, programs, and people connections being offered through this institute could be very useful for those students interested in global health and public health issues in general!

A Reminder: Please think about coming back to Yale for our two-day symposium featuring YOU!!  Let us know if you want to give a presentation on your work.  The Banquet (the night of July 25th) will not only be the culmination for the Summer 2014 students, but it will also be the Opening Reception/Dinner for the symposium presenters and visitors.  Papers will be delivered all day on Saturday (July 26th) and until noon on Sunday (July 27th).  Even if you don’t have something in mind to present, come and support your fellow students!


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This Week on Campus

Monday, October 14

Urban Ethnography Project Seminar
Time: 11:30 AM
Location: 210 Prospect St, room 203
Speaker: Eiko Ikegami, Walter A. Eberstadt Professor of Sociology and History, New School for Social Research
Topic: Playful Ties that Bind: Virtual Neighborhood, Civility and Self for People with Disability in Second Life

East Asian Studies China Colloquium
Time: 4:30 PM
Location: 34 Hillhouse Ave, room 203
Speaker: Cheris Shun-ching Chan, Department of Sociology, University of Hong Kong
Topic: A Market of Distrust and Obligation: The Micropolitics of Unofficial Payments for Hospital Care in China

Tuesday, October 15

Schell Center Lecture
Time: 6:10 PM
Location: 127 Wall St, Room 128
Speaker: Mukesh Kapila, Prof. of Global Health and Humanitarian Affairs, Univ. of Manchester, Special Representative, Aegis Trust for the Prevention of Crimes Against Humanity, and Chair, Minority Rights Group International
Topic: 'Against a Tide of Evil': What We Can Learn from Darfur to Prevent Genocide

Wednesday, October 16

School of Forestry Lecture
Time: 5:30 PM
Location: 195 Prospect St, room 321
Speaker: Aseem Shrivastava, independent writer and ecological economist, New Delhi
Topic: Predatory Growth in India: Critique and Alternatives

Thursday, October 17

Climate & Energy Seminar
Time: 12 PM
Location: 195 Prospect St, room 319
Speaker: Barbara Rose Johnston, Center for Political Ecology
Topic: Praxis, Ethics & Outcomes From Doing Science in a Nuclear World

Enviromental Law & Policy/Climate & Energy Seminar
Time: 12:30 PM
Location: 127 Wall St, room 121
Speaker: Maxine Burkett, Professor, William S. Richardson School of Law, University of Hawaii; former director, Center for Island Climate Adaptation and Policy

Program for Humanities in Medicine's McGovern Lecture
Time: 5 PM
Location: 300 Cedar St, Anlyan Auditorium
Speakers: Frederic Finkelstein, MD, Professor of Medicine at Yale University
               Susan Finkelstein, Assistant Professor of Social Work at Yale School of Medicine
Topic: Cultural Challenges of Introducing Medical Programs in Developing Countries

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Conferences & Off Campus Events

Evolving Spirituality for the 21st Century: A Day with Mary Evelyn Tucker and John Grim, with reflections by Mary Coelho
October 18, 2013, 8:30am – 4pm
All Saints Parish, 1773 Beacon Street, Brookline, MA, USA
A day-long conference on “Evolving Spirituality for the 21st Century” will be held at All Saints Parish in Brookline, MA on October 18, 2013. Mary Evelyn Tucker and John Grim will introduce the Journey of the Universe film, after which they will speak and then lead a discussion on the day’s theme. The afternoon group workshops will be introduced with a theological reflection by the artist and author Mary Coelho, and the day will close with a summary discussion. For the poster, click here.  To register, click here.

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HSC's 18th Annual Wall Street Comes to Washington Conference on Nov. 21

The conference, sponsored by the Jayne Koskinas Ted Giovanis Foundation for Health and Policy, will feature a roundtable discussion with Wall Street health care industry analysts and Washington health policy experts. Panelists include:  Paul B. Ginsburg, Ph.D., HSC President (Moderator),  Robert Berenson, M.D., The Urban Institute, Matthew Borsch, M.B.A., M.P.H., C.F.A., Goldman Sachs,  James LeBuhn, Fitch Ratings, Carl McDonald, C.F.A., Citi Investment Research, Sheryl R. Skolnick, Ph.D., CRT Capital Group, LLC. Panelists will discuss the broad trends shaping the health care system, including health reform implementation, the fledgling insurance exchanges; the growing Medicaid managed care market; increasing regulation of insurance markets; provider payment reform and integrating care delivery; underlying health care spending and insurance premium trends; hospital pricing and consolidation; hospital-physician relations; the outlook for Medicare; and other issues. Click here for more information and to register.

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Grants, Fellowships, & Jobs

Southern Connecticut State University, New Haven, CT, Tenure-Track Faculty Position in Philosophy
Area of Specialization: Bioethics with experience in either the natural sciences (preferably Biology) or the field of STS (Science, Technology and Society) Area of Concentration: Philosophy of Science.
The Philosophy Department at SCSU seeks a scholar-educator who is versatile enough to both teach philosophy in the context of an interdisciplinary liberal education program, and actively contribute to established research programs and new interdisciplinary ventures at the university.  S/he should be fluent enough in natural sciences to be able to participate in interdisciplinary collaborative efforts with a team of concurrent new hires in biology, chemistry and physics, but also familiar enough with emergent and emerging technologies to contribute to conversations related to the work of colleagues in SCSU’s internationally renowned Research Center on Computing and Society. Candidate must be committed to teaching within vibrant/demanding public liberal arts and sciences environment, and demonstrate the potential for excellence in teaching, mentoring and research with undergraduates. The successful candidate should be prepared to teach four courses per semester; direct student honors theses or serve on interdisciplinary thesis committees; offer upper-level courses in philosophy; participate in advising, committee work, and community service; pursue an active research agenda and develop a track record of scholarship at the level required to make progress towards tenure.  Reassigned time is available at the university-wide level for research on a competitive basis. SCSU is a student-centered institution and we regard student success as our highest priority. We seek to instill in all of our students the value of the liberal arts and sciences as a foundation for professional development and life-long learning. Degrees in both Philosophy and in either a natural science (preferably Biology) or in the field of Science, Technology and Society (STS). The applicant should have a PhD in one and an advanced degree, or equivalent, in the other, evidence of ability to teach university courses, ability to engage in meaningful scholarship/creative activity, leading to presentations at professional meetings and publications in peer-reviewed journals, and preferably, a willingness to take a leadership role in university curriculum and possibly program development, demonstrated record of scholarship/creative activity.  To apply, submit a complete dossier electronically through the following Interfolio URL: The dossier should include a CV, sample syllabi, teaching evaluations, 3 letters of recommendation, and a sample publication.  Consideration of candidates with complete files will begin on November 30th and will continue until the position is filled. SCSU is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer, and strongly encourages women and minority group member applications.

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James V. Finkbeiner Endowed Chair in Ethics
The James V. Finkbeiner Endowed Chair in Ethics at Saginaw Valley State University (“SVSU”) fills two important roles.  This distinguished, energetic, and creative individual must have demonstrated excellence in 1) engaging students, faculty, and community members in meaningful discussions about and/or research into applied ethics; and 2) teaching undergraduates in courses related to ethics and applied ethics.  Required qualifications include an earned doctorate in a related field or Juris Doctorate; significant record of community or organizational leadership; demonstrated excellence in teaching and engaged learning; and a successful record in research, writing, and grant writing/fund-raising.  This four-year renewable (non-tenure-track, administrative staff position) provides leadership for: collaborative development of interdisciplinary linkages related to ethics among programs across the various colleges of the University and to various entities in the region it serves; analyzing and fostering discussions of real-world ethical issues; and developing and managing resources. The Finkbeiner Chair reports to the Dean of the College of Arts and Behavioral Sciences.  For complete list of requirements, further information, and to apply for this position, please visit Applicants must apply on-line.  SVSU is an EO/AA employer.  Apply here.

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Columbia University seeks an Associate Director for their Masters and Certificate of Bioethics Programs. The preferred candidate should have the qualifications to teach two courses per year in the program. Click here to go to the official job posting.

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Children’s Mercy Bioethics Center Fellowship in Pediatric Ethics and Genomics
Children’s Mercy Hospital and Clinics invites applications for a one-year fellowship in Pediatric Ethics and Genomics. Children’s Mercy Hospital is one of four centers that were recently funded by NICHD and NHGRI to study whole genome sequencing in newborns.  As part of the grant, we will study ethical, legal and psychosocial issues (ELSI) in genomic testing for newborns.   We invite applications for a one year fellowship to participate in this important project.  Our fellowship in Pediatric Ethics and Genomics will allow time to participate in all of the clinical, educational, and research activities of our ethics and genomics programs and to conduct independent research on ethical issues in pediatric genomics. Fellows can participate in our Certificate Program in Pediatric Ethics. Applicants should have a terminal degree (MD, JD, PhD etc.) in medicine, philosophy, nursing, social work, religious studies, law, or another field related to bioethics or genetics. Priority will be given to applicants who have published on topics in bioethics or genomics. There is an annual stipend of $65,000 plus a small budget to support research. Candidates must be citizens or permanent residents of the United States. The fellowship begins July 1, 2014. Applications must be received by December 15, 2013.  Applications will be considered as they are received. To apply, please submit the following by December 15 to Mary Ellen Hudson at  A one-page cover letter explaining your interest in this fellowship; A current curriculum vitae; Three letters of reference; One published paper or another example of your writing. An application will be sent to you.  Applications will not be considered until all materials are received. Children’s Mercy Hospitals and Clinics is one of the country’s premiere free-standing independent pediatric medical centers. We are consistently ranked among the leading children’s hospitals in the nation, and we were the first hospital in Missouri or Kansas to receive Magnet recognition for excellence in nursing services from the American Nurses Credentialing Center. In addition to the clinical expertise provided by our faculty of more than 400 pediatric subspecialists, Children’s Mercy is also a leader in providing pediatric medical education to the next generation of physicians and nurses and in conducting cutting-edge pediatric medical research to discover the treatments and cures of tomorrow. We’ve also been at the forefront of pediatric psychosocial care, and we’re nationally recognized for our innovation in creating a family-centered environment that is focused on the unique needs of hospitalized children and their families.  On-line information about the Children’s Mercy Bioethics Center, and application guidelines, are available at Information about the Center for Pediatric Genomic Medicine is available here.

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Calls for Papers & Nominations

Association for Practical and Professional Ethics Bioethics - Call for Submissions
The Association for Practical and Professional Ethics (APPE) is pleased to announce a Bioethics Track as a signature part of the 2014 Annual Meeting in Jacksonville, Florida. These sessions will foster discussion of conceptual, clinical, policy, and pedagogical issues in bioethics.  APPE encourages persons from various disciplines and professions to participate in focused discussions of common concerns in practical and professional ethics. Submissions for the Bioethics track will be considered in the following categories: individual paper presentation and panel presentations. Submission guidelines and further explanation of categories may be found here. Individual presentations—of a formal paper, work-in-progress, or case study—are 1 hour in length, and presenters are encouraged to organize their remarks for a 20-25 minute presentation so as to allow time for questions and discussion with attendees.  Authors of individual presentations should submit a 500 word abstract (and also a 250 word abstract for publication in the program.) Panel presentations are 1.5 hours in length, and panelists are encouraged to keep their formal remarks brief to provide adequate time for questions and discussion with the attendees either during or at the conclusion of the panel presentations.  Panel organizers should submit a 250 word abstract for the panel, as well as 250 word abstracts for each presentation within the panel.  All submission should be sent in pdf format to in accordance with the submission guidelines. To facilitate review by the appropriate subcommittee, those wanting their submission to be considered for the Bioethics track within the program should specify this interest in the email to which the abstracts and cover/title page are attached. The deadline for submissions is October 25, 2013. Presenters will be notified of acceptance in December.The 23rd Annual Meeting will take place February 27-March 2, 2014, at the Hyatt Regency Riverfront Hotel in Jacksonville, Florida. More information is available on the APPE website.

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Call for Nominations for Hastings Center Cunniff-Dixon Physician Awards
The Hastings Center Cunniff-Dixon Physician Awards are given annually to physicians who demonstrate leadership in advancing the art of medicine for patients near the end of life and for their families. These awards encourage excellent care near the end of life across all areas of medicine. The criteria are technical competence, personal integrity, doctor-patient dialogue, active engagement of friends and family, and the ability to function well as part of a care team. The award prizes total $95,000. Two awards of $25,000 each will go to a senior physician and a mid-career physician who demonstrate, through leadership and practice, a serious commitment to care near the end of life. Three awards of $15,000 each will go to physicians early in their careers who have made a valuable contribution, through practical research or clinical work, in the field of medicine near the end of life.  The awards are funded by the Cunniff-Dixon Foundation, whose mission is to enrich the doctor-patient relationship near the end of life. The Hastings Center, a bioethics research institute known for its pioneering work on end-of-life decision-making, administers the awards with The Duke Institute on Care at the End of Life. Nominations will be accepted through October 31, 2013. All nominees must be licensed physicians practicing in the United States. The nomination form, which contains instructions, can be found online

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Special Edition of Clinical Ethics on Personalised medicine: philosophical, ethical and social consequences
Submission deadline: Monday, March 31 2014
Edited by Lucy Frith (University of Liverpool) and Ben Capps (National University of Singapore)
This special edition of Clinical Ethics aims to bring together contemporary, inter-disciplinary perspectives on this growing area of medicine. The aim of this edition is to explore the philosophical, ethical and social issues raised by these developments to consider existing uncertainties and to uncover new questions and areas for academic study. Personalised medicine is a targeted approach to health; diagnosis and treatment are tailored to the individual characteristics of patients in order to maximise efficacy and minimise toxicity; thereby transforming patient outcomes. By drawing on innovation in genomics, it brings changes to clinical diagnosis, drug treatment and drug development; for example tailoring cancer treatment to individual patients. In the process, personalised medicine raises significant new challenges that remain unresolved within the confines of a traditional clinical model. These include: how availability of genetic information will affect personal understanding of identity and responsibility; how to pre-empt new legal risks and altered professional responsibilities; how to communicate probability and manage anxieties and expectations; its place in medical education; how to respond to changing demands on health care delivery (such as extended life-expectancy) and commissioning practice (expense of drugs); and the implications for reducing or exacerbating inequalities locally, nationally and globally. This special edition welcomes contributions on these and other issues raised by personalised medicine (and critical reflections). We encourage contributions from a range of disciplines and perspectives. Articles should conform to the author guidelines of Clinical Ethics and be in the region of 6000 words in length. Please submit articles by the 31st March 2014 at: where full instructions for authors are available, please mark your paper for the Personalised Medicine Special Edition. Manuscript guidelines can be found at The special edition will be published at the end of 2014. Enquiries as to the suitability of the papers and ideas can be directed to: and

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Articles of Interest

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In the News


Gillis, Justin. How To Slice A Global Carbon Pie? The New York Times. 7 October 2013.
It was the middle of the night. In a matter of hours, journalists from around the world would be showing up, expecting details about the latest big United Nations climate report. But behind closed doors here, as the final wording of that document was being worked out, things were not going well. Reto Knutti, a Swiss scientist, spent much of the night in the hot seat, answering questions. The idea he was defending was that scientists should specify a worldwide cap on global emissions of greenhouse gases — “a carbon cap” — that would apply if countries were serious about staying below an internationally agreed upper limit on global warming. It was just a single paragraph, but it had huge implications, and everyone in the room knew it. If it were adopted, it would make starkly clear how far the world remains from having any meaningful policy to tackle climate change. Continue reading...

Hubbard, Amy. U.S. Antarctic Research Victim Of Shutdown; Losses Are Irreplaceable. Los Angeles Times. 9 October 2013.
The U.S. Antarctic research program is another casualty of the government shutdown, and scientists are fuming. The development would scrap an entire season of research for some scientists. The National Science Foundation made the announcement Tuesday, recalling scientists and staff from Antarctica and placing the U.S. program in "caretaker status." Minimal staff will be maintained at primary research facilities, including the McMurdo, Amundsen-Scott and Palmer stations, but "all field and research activities not essential to human safety and preservation of property will be suspended." It "makes the blood boil," says Ross Powell, lead scientist for the WISSARD drilling expedition. He told Live Science that $5 million in research investment could go down the drain. Continue reading...


Timmer, John. What science tells us about the safety of genetically modified foods. Ars Technica. October 4, 2013.
Many aspects of modern technology make people a bit uneasy, but genetically modified foods may be in a class by themselves. Labs all around the world make genetic modifications of organisms—bacteria, plants, and animals—365 days a year. And some of the results of that work have been ingested by humans for years, often in the form of life-saving drugs. But genetically modified crops remain controversial around the globe, and while they're commonly used in the US, they have almost no presence in the European market. Continue reading…


Stein, Rob. Proposed Treatment to Fix Genetic Diseases Raises Ethical Issues. NPR. 9 October 2013.
The federal government is considering whether to allow scientists to take a controversial step: make changes in some of the genetic material in a woman's egg that would be passed down through generations. Mark Sauer of the Columbia University Medical Center, a member of one of two teams of U.S. scientists pursuing the research, calls the effort to prevent infants from getting devastating genetic diseases "noble." Sauer says the groups are hoping "to cure disease and to help women deliver healthy, normal children." But the research also raises a variety of concerns, including worries it could open the door to creating "designer babies." The Food and Drug Administration has scheduled an Oct. 22 hearing to consider the issues. Continue reading...

Health & Medicine

Timmer, John. Medicine Nobel goes to researchers for describing transit inside a cell. Ars Technica. October 7, 2013. It's tempting to think of cells as a complex bag of water and chemicals. But cells wouldn't function if their contents were just mixed together chaotically. Instead, the inside of eukaryotic cells is carefully structured, with individual compartments performing specific functions: the DNA held in the nucleus, ATP generated in the mitochondria, damaged material digested in the lysosomes, and so on. Each of these compartments has its own specialized collection of proteins that enable it to perform these functions. Continue reading…

Law and Bioethics

Kaplan, Rebecca. Reports: Emails Show Alleged Pay-to-Play Between Drug Companies, FDA. CBS News. 7 October 2013.
An Ohio attorney has obtained emails that show that pharmaceutical companies have been paying tens of thousands of dollars to attend meetings of a panel of academics and health industry regulators that advise the Food and Drug Administration on its drug policies for painkillers, according to multiple news reports. Continue reading...

Medical Ethics

Singh, Maanvi. Despite Many Warnings, Antibiotics Are Still Overprescribed. NPR. 4 October 2013.
We've known for years that antibiotics don't help in most cases of bronchitis or sore throat. And for decades, public health officials have tried to stop doctors from overprescribing antibiotics. None of that seems to have made a difference, though: Antibiotics are still being prescribed when they don't help — and could hurt, a study says.  Continue reading...

Mental Health

Chatterjee, Rhitu. For Boys With Eating Disorders, Finding Treatment Can Be Hard. NPR. 7 October 2013.
Eating disorders are commonly thought to be a problem for girls and women, but an estimated 10 million American men have an eating disorder at some point in their lives, according to the National Eating Disorders Association. Increased social pressure for boys and men to be lean and muscular is at least partly responsible for the rise in males with eating disorders. And though eating disorders in boys share many similarities with those in girls, treatment programs tailored to girls may not feel like the right fit. Continue reading...

Public Health

Gladstone, Rick. Rights Advocates Suing U.N. Over The Spread of Cholera In Haiti. The New York Times. 8 October 2013.
Advocates for Haitian victims of the deadly cholera epidemic that first afflicted their country three years ago said they were taking the extraordinary step on Wednesday of suing the United Nations, asserting that the organization’s peacekeeping force in Haiti was responsible for introducing the disease through sewage contamination from its barracks. The lawsuit, which the advocates said they would file in Federal District Court in Manhattan on Wednesday morning, will be the strongest action they have taken in pressing the United Nations to acknowledge at least some culpability for the outbreak of cholera, a highly contagious scourge spread through human feces that had been largely absent from Haiti for 100 years. Continue reading...

Burton, Thomas. Tracking Foodborne Illnesses Hampered By Shutdown. The Wall Street Journal. 9 October 2013.
A salmonella outbreak from chicken is highlighting the risk that the partial government shutdown could make it harder to detect and track foodborne illnesses, government and private food-safety experts say. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention spokeswoman Barbara Reynolds said the agency's skeletal staffing during the government shutdown hampered its analysis of a recent outbreak of salmonella cases. Continue reading...

Research Ethics

Shaw, Claire. Hundreds of Open Access Journals Accept Fake Science Paper. The Guardian. 4 October 2013.
Hundreds of open access journals, including those published by industry giants Sage, Elsevier and Wolters Kluwer, have accepted a fake scientific paper in a sting operation that reveals the "contours of an emerging wild west in academic publishing." The hoax, which was set up by John Bohannon, a science journalist at Harvard University, saw various versions of a bogus scientific paper being submitted to 304 open access journals worldwide over a period of 10 months. Continue reading...

Greenfieldboyce, Neil. Why Scientists Held Back Details On A Unique Botulinum Toxin. NPR. 9 October 2013.
Scientists have discovered the first new form of botulinum toxin in over 40 years, but they're taking the unusual step of keeping key details about it secret. That's because botulinum toxin is one of the most poisonous substances known. It causes botulism, and the newly identified form of it can't be neutralized by any available treatment. The researchers published two reports describing their work online in The Journal of Infectious Diseases. The information in those reports is deliberately incomplete, to prevent anyone from using it as the recipe for a potent new bioweapon. Continue reading...

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In the Journals

Kaebnick, Gregory E. Roles and Relationships. The Hastings Center Report. September 2013.
One of the foundational thoughts in bioethics is that professional roles can generate special ethical obligations. Bioethics first emerged as an effort to understand the special ethical obligations of physicians and researchers. But bioethics now finds itself subject to a converse thought. Bioethicists engaged in clinical ethics consultations-discussing patient care and decision-making with physicians and others-have a special ethical obligation toward patients and coworkers, and that obligation has generated a professional role, as it were. Clinical ethicists bear the obligation of ensuring that ethical standards for patient care are upheld, and since this work requires special skills and knowledge, clinical ethicists can be asked to demonstrate that they have what it takes and can bring it effectively to bear in consultations. The evolution of clinical ethical consultation is the topic of the lead article in this issue of the Report. The second article in this issue returns to that ur-topic-the ethical obligations of physicians and researchers. Continue reading…

Kodish, Eric. Quality Attestation for Clinical Ethics Consultants: A Two-Step Model from the American Society for Bioethics and Humanities. The Hastings Center Report. September 2013.
Clinical ethics consultation is largely outside the scope of regulation and oversight, despite its importance. For decades, the bioethics community has been unable to reach a consensus on whether there should be accountability in this work, as there is for other clinical activities that influence the care of patients. The American Society for Bioethics and Humanities, the primary society of bioethicists and scholars in the medical humanities and the organizational home for individuals who perform CEC in the United States, has initiated a two-step quality attestation process as a means to assess clinical ethics consultants and help identify individuals who are qualified to perform this role. This article describes the process. Continue reading…

Pierce, Jessica. The Dying Animal. Journal of Bioethical Inquiry. October 2013.
The study of animal death is poised to blossom into an exciting new interdisciplinary field—and one with profound relevance for bioethics. Areas of interest include the biology and evolution of death-related behavior in nonhuman animals, as well as human social, psychological, cultural, and moral attitudes toward and practices related to animal death. In this paper, I offer a brief overview of what we know about death-related behavior in animals. I will then sketch some of the bioethical implications of this emerging field of research. Continue reading…

Postema, Don C. Does Policy Attestation Come Only in One Size? The Hastings Center Report. September 2013.
The American Society for Bioethics and Humanities is now proposing a process whereby the role and authority of clinical ethics consultants can be legitimated. Without regulation and oversight, the field lacks validity and accountability. ASBH has sought to remedy the lack of uniform standards and accreditation by publishing Core Competencies in Health Care Ethics Consultation and an education guide, and now by proposing a "quality attestation process," situated between national certification processes and local credentialing practices, to "attest to the skills and ability of properly trained and competent clinical ethicists." If the process is successful, a cadre of certified clinical ethics consultants will emerge. Before the dawn of this new era, it is worth pausing to consider the adequacy of the quality attestation process itself and how it will affect the current world of clinical ethics consultants. Ethics consultations are often done by a multidisciplinary team, and the consult note is a compilation or synthesis of the work of the team. If the evidence required to attest to one's quality as an ethics consultant is to bear on one's ability to work with a team and present an integrated consult note, then these notes are relevant. If, however, the evidence is to bear on the quality of one's own work, then the evidence is inconclusive at best, fraudulent at worst. The quality attestation process seems to be predicated on the individual ethics consultant model, which may not jibe with the realities of ethics consultation. There may be more than one way to demonstrate one's competence, and there may be more than one competency to demonstrate. Continue reading…

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Ars Technica

Timmer, John. Marsupial species evolved “suicidal reproduction.” October 8, 2013.
Many animal species consist of members that will only mate once before dying. This reproductive strategy, often seen in fish and insects, can make evolutionary sense when the species is able to produce a lot of offspring from that single mating. Given that salmon can release thousands of eggs when they spawn, a single mating can produce a lifetime's worth of offspring. Continue reading…

Chicago Tribune

Editorial. Crop politics. October 5, 2013.
This is harvest season in the heartland, and another big corn crop is pouring into the bins. Amid the abundance, however, trouble lurks. Continue reading…

Editorial. Warning: Obamacare exchanges may cause dizziness. October 6, 2013.
The online health insurance exchanges promised by Obamacare promptly opened for business last week and just as promptly crashed. People seeking to sign up for insurance, or just peruse plans, waited and waited ... and waited. Continue reading…

The Economist

Climate science. Stubborn things. October 5, 2013.
In 2007 the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), a body of scientists, said the glaciers of the Himalayas could melt by 2035. This was complete fiction. It also said global surface temperatures would go on rising by about 0.2°C a decade for the next 20 years. They have been more or less flat since 1998. The IPCC has now issued its sextennial check-up on the health of the global climate. Why would anyone believe what they say? Continue reading…

Los Angeles Times

McManus, Doyle. The unsettled healthcare law. October 6, 2013.
Ever since Obamacare’s stormy passage in early 2010, Democrats have been waiting anxiously for the program to go into effect and hoping that a dose of reality would calm the partisan battles over the health insurance plan. Once everything was up and running, they hoped, skeptical Americans would see that Obamacare was a good idea all along — and reward the party that brought it to them. Continue reading…

Warraich, Haider Javed. In medicine, more care may not be better. October 10, 2013.
The dull whir of the computer running in the background seemed to have gotten louder as the patient fell quiet. She was a young woman, a primary-care patient of mine, seeking a referral to yet another gastroenterologist. Her abdominal pain had already been checked out by two of the city's most renowned gastroenterologists with invasive testing, CAT scans and endoscopic procedures. But she wasn't satisfied with her diagnosis — irritable bowel syndrome — or the recommended treatment and wanted a third opinion. I tried to reason with her but failed to convince her otherwise. Even when I acquiesced and gave her the referral, she walked out visibly unhappy. I sat there listening to the whirring, feeling disappointed. Continue reading…

New Scientist

Opinion. The future of the climate is still in our hands. October 4, 2013.
The latest scientific report from the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, published last week, was received almost with a shrug. There were no real showstoppers (no surprise, as most of the report had been leaked in advance). Minds were not changed. Battle lines did not budge. Denialists tried to rubbish the report but found themselves preaching only to the converted. Continue reading…

MacKenzie, Debora. Don’t let fear of bioweapons kill off science. October 7, 2013.
It is autumn in the northern hemisphere. Somewhere in Asia, a winter flu virus is evolving that will make millions miserable in a few months. Other microbial threats are less predictable: a deadly new virus called MERS, two kinds of emerging bird flu, and a planetful of other evolving infections. Continue reading…

New York Times

Editorial. Pent-up Demand for Health Insurance. October 4, 2013.
There were plenty of computer glitches when millions of Americans went online to check out their options for affordable insurance policies on the new health care exchanges that opened for business this week. It was frustrating, but it was also an indication of overwhelming interest that exceeded all predictions. Continue reading…

Scharpf, Elizabeth.  Why 'Sustainability' Should Be More Than a Meaningless Buzzword.  October 7, 2013.
The term "sustainability" crept into the business lexicon slowly, by way of the environmental movement. It no longer means covering operating costs with profits, the definition I learned at Harvard Business School six years ago. Instead, it's morphed into a blurry term that fits into whatever suitcase you want it to — a catchall for everything "socially good," whatever that means. Continue reading…  

Ofri, Danielle. Doctor’s Bad Habits, October 5, 2013.
Recently I was talking with a patient about her glucose levels, which have been inching their way toward diabetes. She was honest that she was eating too much junk and knew perfectly well that her diet was not doing her health any favors. Continue reading…

Washington Post

Robbins, Alex. Why Obamacare isn’t ‘settled.’ October 3. 2013.
The Affordable Care Act was passed by Congress, signed by President Obama, upheld by the Supreme Court and reconfirmed by the president’s reelection. Many of its provisions have gone into effect. As Democrats have taken to saying, it is the law of the land. Continue reading…

Fukuyama, Francis. Why are we still fighting over Obamacare? Because America was designed for stalemate. October 4, 2013.
The House Republicans’ willingness to provoke a government shutdown as part of their effort to defund or delay the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, illustrates some enduring truths about American politics — and how the United States is an outlier among the world’s rich democracies. As President Obama recently asserted, America is indeed exceptional. But that’s not necessarily a good thing. Continue reading…

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