Greetings from Stephen Latham, Director


I had a great time earlier this week, giving a bioethics-and-art talk at the Yale University Art Gallery with Curatorial Fellow Tanya Pohrt. Stay tuned for news of more bioethics/YUAG collaborations!


On Monday, our Tech and Ethics group will be hosting a talk at the Law School by Christof Heyns, UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions and Director of the Institute for International and Comparative Law in Africa (Law, University of Pretoria). Heyns will speak on “Lethal Autonomous Robots: the legal implications and the path forward.” The talk is in Law School room 121 at 4:15.

On Tuesday, we have Jonathan Moreno (Bioethics, UPenn) giving our annual Robert J. Levine Lecture on “Mind Wars: Brain Science and the Military in the 21st Century.” The talk will begin at 5pm in Room A002 of the ISPS building, 77 Prospect St.

And don’t forget to save Tuesday the 29th, when Sidney Callahan (Bioethics and Psychology, Hastings Center) will give our annual Margaret Farley Lecture on “Confronting Religious Experience: Where Theology and Psychology Meet.” Details below!  

Congratulations to the aforementioned Bob Levine, Chair of our Executive Committee, who has written a brief article, “Proposed revisions to the Declaration of Helsinki in the year 1999,” for inclusion in the World Medical Association’s forthcoming book commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Declaration of Helsinki. The Declaration is a highly influential code of ethics for biomedical research involving human subjects. At the WMA’s invitation, Bob has written an account of his leadership role in the revision of the version of the Declaration that was promulgated in 2000. Bob chaired the International Working Group that proposed major revisions in the conceptual structure of the document, including the removal of the distinction between clinical and non-clinical research.

If there’s anything you’d like to read about in this Newsletter, please send it to me at Stephen.Latham@yale.edu, with the word “Frimail” in your subject-line!

  BIOETHICS EVENTS
  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




THE ANNUAL
ROBERT LEVINE LECTURE

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


 
THE ANNUAL
MARGARET FARLEY LECTURE


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

  JUMP TO
  Updates from the Summer Institute

Campus Events

Grants, Fellowships & Jobs

Calls for Papers & Nominations

Other Items

Articles

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  CONTACT US
 

bioethics.center@yale.edu

Updates from the Summer Institute

From Associate Director Carol Pollard

Congratulations to summer instructor Adam Schechter who has accepted a position at Dana Farber Cancer Institute at Harvard University.  Adam has recruited two instructors for his highly rated seminar “Bioethics and Popular Culture,” and he has promised that he will still be dropping in on some of this summer’s sessions as a “discussant.”  Adam has been a summer instructor for, I believe, five years.  (Good Luck Adam, and I’m glad we’re not losing you totally!)

Gelareh Homayounfar will be visiting Yale in November and I’m looking forward to the visit!

Keeping up with Claire Dennis on her sailing adventure: the last I heard was that she was leaving for the Laser Radial Women’s Worlds 2013 in Rizhao, China. (Good Luck, Claire!)

Matthew Johnson writes: “I was fortunate to be elected to Phi Beta Kappa (at Yale) and am designing three experiments in the Yale Child Study Center that will be piloted this semester.  I have also been offered the first author position on resulting publications.” (Congratulations and Good Luck Matthew!)

Justin Stahl writes: “I am now living in Boston and working as a research associate at Massachusetts General Hospital's Center for Law Brain & Behavior.  I am working on a project synthesizing neuroscience and legal research as they relate to eyewitness testimony with the eventual goal of informing judges and juries about the flaws inherent in human memory which increase the potential for eyewitness misidentification.”  Justin will be applying to law school next year. (Congratulations and Good Luck Justin!) 

The second deadline for The Penn Bioethics Journal (an undergraduate publication) is November 4th.  For further information, please see: http://bioethicsjournal.com

The American Society for Bioethics and Humanities has eight training videos on “Informed consent” that you can access.

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This Week on Campus

Monday, October 21

Urban Ethnography Lecture
Time: 11:30 AM
Location: 210 Prospect St, room 203
Speaker: Vesla Weaver, Political Science & African American Studies, Yale
Topic: "We're Free, but Not Free": Black Custodial Citizenship and Racial Narratives

Climate & Energy Lecture
Time: 2 PM
Location: 195 Prospect St, Burke Auditorium
Speaker: Johannes Urpelainen, Assistant Professor of Political Science, Columbia University
Topic: On international cooperation and global environmental governance

Wednesday, October 23

Rudd Center Seminar
Time: 12:30 PM
Location: 309 Edwards St, conf room
Speaker: Olivier De Schutter, PhD, LLM, Professor, University of Louvain and College of Europe; Visiting Professor, Columbia University; Global Law School Faculty, New York University
Topic: Reforming the Food Systems: Making the Transition Succeed

Thursday, October 24

Program for Humanities in Medicine's Barwick Lecture
Time: 5 PM
Location: 300 Cedar St, Anlyan Auditorium
Speakers: Lucinda Liu, YSM 4
                Kathryn Parker Almanas, Artist
Topic: Looking In: Organs and the way we view them

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Grants, Fellowships, & Jobs

Brady Distinguished Visiting Faculty Position, Northwestern University, Evanston Illinois
This is a one-year, full-time and benefits eligible position as the Brady Distinguished Visiting faculty, beginning September 1, 2014. The successful applicant will teach one seminar as part of The Brady Scholars Program in Ethics and Civic Life, will give three public lectures on themes related to The Brady Program, and will provide intensive pedagogical mentoring and research advising throughout the academic year to students, participating fully in social interactions. We require at least three years of college teaching experience after the receipt of the Ph.D., and documentation of teaching excellence. The undergraduates involved in this program pursue a three-year course of study on issues of civic and moral concern. Details can be found at http://www.bradyprogram.northwestern.edu/. Candidates should submit a cover letter, complete CV, three letters of recommendation, a writing sample, and teaching evaluations. Send application materials to The Brady Program Website, Faculty Tab, Moral & Political Visitor Search.  Review of files will begin as received; materials that arrive by December 7, 2013 will be given fullest consideration. EOE/ AAE. Women and minority candidates are encouraged to apply.

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Director, Center for the Study of Ethics in the Professions (CSEP), The Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT), Chicago, Illinois
The Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT) is soliciting nominations and applications for a full-time, tenured position as CSEP Director beginning Fall 2014. The Director will play a key role in integrating ethics across all of IIT’s curricula and programs.  The candidate must be interested in undergraduate teaching but may teach at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. The candidate is also expected to continue a strong, productive line of research, and to build CSEP’s international reputation. The area of specialization is open, but we are interested in an individual with a broad interest in applied and professional ethics. The candidate must have an appropriate terminal degree and proven experience and research to merit tenure at the rank of Associate or Full Professor in one of the departments of Lewis College of Human Sciences (Humanities, Psychology, or Social Sciences). In addition to Lewis College, IIT consists of the colleges of Architecture, Business, Design, Engineering, Law, and Sciences. IIT is a private university located on a campus of 120 acres in Chicago. Established in 1976, CSEP was the first interdisciplinary center for ethics to focus on the professions and is known for its work on ethics in engineering, science, and related areas of business. CSEP maintains an on-site library and online collection of professional ethics codes.  It has received many grants, including several from the National Science Foundation, to integrate professional ethics into technical courses or to study the ethics of nanotechnology. More information about CSEP is available at http://ethics.iit.edu/. To apply, send a letter of application, vita, selected publications, and three references from whom IIT may request recommendations. Send by email to Michael Davis, Professor of Philosophy, Chair, Search Committee (davism@iit.edu). Questions regarding the position can be addressed to Prof. Davis by email or at 773-288-8348. Review of applications will begin December 1, 2013 and continue until the position is filled. IIT is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action employer and encourages applications from members of underrepresented minority groups.

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The Center for Ethics in Society Post Doctoral Fellowships 
For 2014-2015, we seek up to three new post doctoral fellows.  We welcome candidates with substantial normative research interests from philosophy, the social sciences, and the professional schools. We are especially interested in candidates with research interests in inequality, education, international justice, and environmental ethics, but we welcome all applicants with strong normative interests that have some practical implications. Scholars with a JD but no PhD are eligible to apply. Fellows will be involved in teaching, interact with undergraduates in the Ethics in Society Honors Program and help in fostering an inter-disciplinary ethics community across the campus.  The appointment term is September 1, 2014 - August 31, 2015; however, the initial term may be renewed for an additional year. Applicants must have completed all requirements for their PhD by June 30, 2014. Candidates must also be no more than 3 years from the awarding of their degree (i.e., September 2011). The application deadline is January 9, 2014 (5:00pm Pacific Standard Time). Stanford University is an equal opportunity employer and is committed to increasing the diversity of its faculty.  We welcome applications from women and members of minority groups, as well as others who would bring additional dimensions to the university's research and teaching missions. Salary is competitive. Please submit a CV, a writing sample (no more than 25 pages), three letters of recommendation, and a one-page research statement. For information on how to access the online system to submit your application material, visit our website https://ethicsinsociety.stanford.edu/postdoc-fellows/application-process. Contact person: Anne Newman arnewman@stanford.edu 

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Calls for Papers & Nominations

Call for Abstracts: Global Cancer Care: Challenges and Opportunities Symposium
Students for GO! and the Global Oncology (GO!) Initiative, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute
Deadline: November 15, 2013
Students for GO! and the Global Oncology (GO!) Initiative invites you to participate in the first Global Cancer Care: Challenges and Opportunities Symposium held on February 8th, 2014 at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. We are looking for projects on the treatment of cancer in low resource settings, cancer care delivery, or financial, legal and other strategies for improving global access to cancer care.  The submitted abstracts will be judged by a panel of faculty and students from Students for GO! and the GO! Initiative. From the submitted abstracts, 2 students will be invited to present an oral presentation and 20-30 others will be invited to present in the poster session. For more information about abstract guidelines and submission, please visit our website. The deadline for submission is November 15, 2013. If you have any questions, please contact studentsforgo@gmail.com.

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Other Items of Interest

NOW ACCEPTING APPLICATIONS for Fall 2014: 
Global Health Law LL.M. Program 
Global Health and International Institutions LL.M. Program 
The O'Neill Institute at Georgetown Law

Georgetown Law is now accepting applications for its Global Health Law LL.M. Program and our Global Health and International Institutions LL.M. Program, jointly offered with the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies (IHEID) in Geneva, Switzerland. We are also accepting applications for our Global Health Law Scholarship for full or partial tuition waivers. These innovative, intensive courses of study are open to highly qualified candidates in public and private sectors with an LL.B., J.D. or other first law degree and strong interest or background in global health law and policy.  Georgetown Law offers graduate students a unique opportunity to advance their knowledge and skills through focused studies in courses on global health, public health, international trade and health, health and human rights, bioethics, food and drug law, biotechnology, and intellectual property. The O'Neill Institute, housed at Georgetown, supports world-class research and scholarship that is applied to urgent health problems, using a complex, comprehensive, interdisciplinary, and transnational approach to extend beyond a narrow vision of health law that focuses solely on health care as an industry or as a scientific endeavor. The Global Health Law and International Institutions LL.M. program brings together two institutions at the cutting edge of global health law and diplomacy. At the  Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies (IHEID) in Geneva, Switzerland, students in the jointly offered program will take courses in global health law and diplomacy, international law, humanitarian law, international trade law, international environmental law, international affairs, and international development studies. IHEID is widely regarded as one of the best international law and relations institutes in Europe and through its Global Health Programme, the Graduate Institute plays an important role in shaping the emerging field of interface between foreign policy, economics, development and health. For more information about the Global Health Law program, please visit here. For more information about the Global Health Law and International Institutions program, please visit here. Information about the Global Health Law Scholarship for full or partial tuition waivers can be found here. The online application for both programs can be found here. Please feel free to contact Georgetown's Global Health Law LL.M. Program Director, Tanya Baytor at teb39@law.georgetown.edu with any questions.

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Articles of Interest

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In the News


Featured Article

Severson, Kim. A Bridge Between Western Science and Eastern Faith. The New York Times. 11 October 2013.
Quantum theory tells us that the world is a product of an infinite number of random events. Buddhism teaches us that nothing happens without a cause, trapping the universe in an unending karmic cycle. Reconciling the two might seem as challenging as trying to explain the Higgs boson to a kindergarten class. But if someone has to do it, it might as well be the team of scholars, translators and six Tibetan monks clad in maroon robes who can be spied wandering among the magnolias at Emory University. They were joined this week by the Dalai Lama, the spiritual leader of the Tibetan people, who decided seven years ago that it was time to merge the hard science of the laboratory with the soft science of the meditative mind. Continue reading...

Environment

Chappell, Bill. North Dakota’s Delay In Reporting Oil Spill Raises Questions. NPR. 12 October 2013.
The handling of an oil spill in North Dakota is raising questions, after a state agency waited to tell the public it had taken place. A wheat farmer was the first to recognize the spill had happened; it became public knowledge nearly two weeks later. With more than 20,000 barrels of crude covering more than seven acres of land, the spill is one of the largest in the state's history. The incident is giving ammunition to critics who fault the way North Dakota has dealt with the oil boom the state has benefited from for several years now. Continue reading...

Food

Kemsley, Tamarra. Oreos As Addictive As Cocaine: A Study. Nature World News. 17 October 2013.
Oreos are as addictive as cocaine, a study of rats suggests. In order to test the cookie's addictiveness, researchers from Connecticut College gave hungry rats in a maze either Oreos or rice cakes, depending on which side of the labyrinth they were on. The rats then had the option of spending time on either side of the maze. The scientists compared the results to those from rats that received an injection of cocaine or morphine on one side of a maze and saline on the other. In the end, the cookie-fed rats spent as much time on the Oreo side of the maze as the rats hoping for a shot of cocaine or morphine spent on their corresponding side of the maze. Continue reading...

Health and Medicine

Schimelpfering, Nancy. What Nurses Can Teach Us About Heart Attack Prevention. Guardian Express. 12 October 2013.
While we often think first about the physical aspects of heart attack prevention – such as proper diet, exercise and not smoking – a Greek nurse named Zoi Aggelopoulou says that psychological interventions – like praying with patients, playing music for them and simply talking with them about their treatment – have a very important role to play as well. How important are these activities in patient outcomes?  According to Aggelopoulou and her research team, they cut heart attacks and deaths in half in the patients studied. Continue reading...

Rosenthal, Elisabeth. The Soaring Cost of a Simple Breath. The New York Times. 12 October 2013.
Asthma — the most common chronic disease that affects Americans of all ages, about 40 million people — can usually be well controlled with drugs. But being able to afford prescription medications in the United States often requires top-notch insurance or plenty of disposable income, and time to hunt for deals and bargains. Continue reading...

Grady, Denise. Uganda Fights Stigma and Poverty To Take On Breast Cancer. The New York Times. 15 October 2013.
Women in Africa often face perilous delays in cancer treatment as a result of scarce resources, incompetence and corruption. Uganda is trying to improve the treatment of all types of cancer in ways that make sense in a place with limited resources. A new hospital and clinic, paid for by the Ugandan government, have been added to the Uganda Cancer Institute in Kampala, though they have not yet opened, for lack of equipment. Continue reading...

Media and Bioethics

Gustafson, Thomas. Bioethicists Give Hollywood’s Films A Reality Check. NPR. 15 October 2013.
A life-threatening pandemic occurs. You're a doctor in the ER and can save a 9-year-old or a 63-year-old doctor. Whom do you choose? How do you choose? Questions like that can crop up in real life and also on the silver screen. So how good a job do filmmakers do at portraying these moral dilemmas? Continue reading...

Medical Ethics

Rosenthal, Elisabeth. A Push To Sell Testosterone Gels Troubles Doctors. The New York Times. 15 October 2013.
The barrage of advertisements targets older men. “Have you noticed a recent deterioration of your ability to play sports?” “Do you have a decrease in sex drive?” “Do you have a lack of energy?” If so, the ads warn, you should “talk to your doctor about whether you have low testosterone” — “Low T,” as they put it. In the view of many physicians, that is in large part an invented condition. Last year, drug makers in the United States spent $3.47 billion on advertising directly to consumers, according to FiercePharma.com. And while ever-present ads like those from AbbVie Pharmaceuticals have buoyed sales of testosterone gels, that may be bad for patients as well as the United States’ $2.7 trillion annual health care bill, experts say. Continue reading...

Rau, Jordan. What Should Make A Hospital CEO’s Paycheck Bigger? NPR. 15 October 2013.
Executives at hospitals that have a lot of high-tech gadgets and high patient satisfaction are paid more than their peers, a study of CEO compensation at nonprofit hospitals finds. Running a hospital that scores well on keeping more patients alive or providing extensive charity care doesn't translate into a pay bump. "The finding on quality is disappointing," says Dr. Ashish Jha, a professor at the Harvard School of Public Health and one of the study's authors. "It says that most boards are more focused on the fanciest technology around. This paper suggests that maybe we need to pay a little more attention to other more important outcomes, such as whether your patients are dying at a high rate or not." Continue reading...

Shute, Nancy. Family Caregiving Can Be Stressful, Rewarding And Life-Affirming. NPR. 16 October 2013.
The stereotype of caring for a family member is that it's so stressful it harms the caregiver's health. But that's not necessarily so. Studies are conflicted, finding that caregiving can harm or help the caregiver. Here's one on the plus side. A study finds that people who care for a family member live longer than similar people who aren't caregiving. Continue reading...

Law and Bioethics

Pollack, Andrew. Gov. Brown of California Vetoes Biotech Drug Bill. The New York Times. 13 October 2013.
The first year of skirmishes in state legislatures over bills that would govern the use of cheaper versions of expensive biotechnology drugs is nearly over. Health insurers and generic drug companies have prevailed in most states over brand-name pharmaceutical companies. Their latest victory came in dramatic fashion on Saturday, when Gov. Jerry Brown of California vetoed a bill that had passed both houses of the legislature with overwhelming bipartisan support, but that critics said would limit the use of less expensive drugs. Continue reading...

Reproductive Health

Tanner, Lindsey. Donor Egg Pregnancies On The Rise, US Study Finds. The Associated Press.  17 October 2013.
U.S. women are increasingly using donated eggs to get pregnant, with often good results, although the ideal outcome — a single baby born on time at a healthy weight — is still uncommon, a study found. That ideal result occurred in about 1 out of 4 donor egg pregnancies in 2010, up from 19 percent a decade earlier, the study found. Continue reading...

Technology

Ingram, David. Boston Scientific To Pay $30 Million Over Heart Devices. Reuters. 17 October 2013.
Boston Scientific Corp agreed to pay $30 million to settle allegations that the Guidant unit it acquired in 2006 knowingly sold defective heart devices implanted in Medicare patients, the U.S. Justice Department said on Thursday. Guidant from 2002 to 2005 sold the implantable defibrillators even though it knew they could short-circuit and become ineffective at correcting heartbeat rhythms, the department said in a statement. Continue reading...

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In the Journals

Hurwitz, Brian. Medical Humanities: Lineage, Excusionary Sketch, and Rationale. Journal of Medical Ethics. September 2013.
Medical Humanities the journal started life in 2000 as a special edition of the JME. However, the intellectual taproots of the medical humanities as a field of enquiry can be traced to two developments: calls made in the 1920s for the development of multidisciplinary perspectives on the sciences that shed historical light on their assumptions, methods and practices; refusals to assimilate all medical phenomena to a biomedical worldview. Medical humanities the term stems from a desire to situate the significance of medicine as a product of culture. But despite growing usage over half a century the term defies a unifying encapsulation and continues to conjure up a multitude of discourse communities, including scholars working at the interfaces of health and humanities, arts and health, and medical education and bioethics. The field is intellectually capacious and polymorphous, forming and reforming around critical new research questions and teaching tasks spanning disciplines. Continue reading…

Oswald, Malcolm. Should Policy Ethics Come in Two Colors: Green or White? Journal of Medical Ethics: Journal of the Institute of Medical Ethics. 2013.
When writing about policy, do you think in green or white? If not, I recommend that you do. I suggest that writers and journal editors should explicitly label every policy ethics paper either ‘green’ or ‘white’. A green paper is an unconstrained exploration of a policy question. The controversial ‘After-birth abortion’ paper is an example. Had it been labelled as ‘green’, readers could have understood what Giubilini and Minerva explained later: that it was a discussion of philosophical ideas, and not a policy proposal advocating infanticide. A serious policy proposal should be labelled by writer(s) and editor(s) as ‘white’. Its purpose should be to influence policy. In order to influence policy, I suggest three essential, and two desirable, characteristics of any white paper. Most importantly, a white paper should be set in the context in which the policy is to be made and applied. 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…

Porter, Lindsey. Abortion, infanticide, and moral context. Journal of Medical Ethics: Journal of the Institute of Medical Ethics. 2013.
In ‘After-birth abortion: why should the baby live?’, Giubilini and Minerva argue that infanticide should be permitted for the same reasons as abortion. In particular, they argue that infanticide should be permitted even for reasons that do not primarily serve the interests (or would-be best interests) of the newborn. They claim that abortion is permissible for reasons that do not primarily serve the interests (or would-be interests) of the fetus because fetuses lack a right to life. They argue that newborns also lack a right to life, and they conclude that therefore, the same reasons that justify abortion can justify infanticide. This conclusion does not follow. The lack of a right to life is not decisive. Furthermore, the justificatory power of a given reason is a function of moral context. Generalisations about reasons across dissimilar moral contexts are invalid. However, a similar conclusion does follow—that fetus-killing and newborn-killing are morally identical in identical moral contexts—but this conclusion is trivial, since fetuses and newborns are never in identical moral contexts. Continue reading…

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Opinion


Ars Technica

Gitig, Diana. Drug restores cells that are missing in MS patients. October 14, 2013.
Multiple sclerosis (MS) is an autoimmune disease in which the immune system destroys the myelin sheaths surrounding neurons. These myelin sheaths are often likened to the insulation surrounding electrical wires; they enable neurons to transmit electrical impulses specifically and efficiently. Continue reading…

Jacquot, Jeremy. Historically unprecedented climates to arrive by mid-century. October 11, 2013.
If there was one overarching point that the fifth Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report took pains to stress, it was that the degree of change in the global climate system since the mid-1950s is unusual in scope. Depending on what exactly you measure, the planet hasn't seen conditions like these for decades to millennia. But that conclusion leaves us with a question: whenexactly can we expect the climate to look radically new, with features that have no historical precedent? Continue reading…

Clark, Liat. Increased human life expectancy correlates to increase in species extinction. October 12, 2013.
A study published by a team of biologists suggests that as a nation's population life expectancy increases, so does its percentage of invasive and endangered birds and mammals. It suggests that rather than population density alone being the largest threat to wildlife, it's the quality of life that matters most. Continue reading…

Chicago Tribune

Editorial: Why Obamacare is a mess. October 15, 2013.
If you've tried to sign up online for health coverage under the problem-plagued Obamacare exchange, our sympathies. Many people have tried to create accounts and shop for insurance under the new law. Few have succeeded. Those that have enrolled have found that the system is prone to mistakes. Some applications have been sent to the wrong insurance company. Continue reading…

The Economist

Science and Technology. Set a thief… October 12, 2013.
Biofilms are a problem in medicine. When bacteria gang up to form the continuous sheets that bear this name they are far harder to kill with antibiotics than when they just float around as individual cells. Biofilms on devices such as implants are thus difficult to shift, and those growing on the surfaces of human organs are frequently lethal. But Matthew Chang, a biochemical engineer at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore, has worked out a new way to attack them. His weapon is a different type of bacterium, which he has genetically engineered into a finely honed anti-biofilm missile. Continue reading…

Science and Technology. The long war. October 12, 2013.
On October 8th researchers announced progress in developing a vaccine against malaria. GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), a British pharmaceutical firm, said it would seek regulatory approval next year for this vaccine, called RTS,S. GSK and its charitable partner, the PATH Malaria Vaccine Initiative, also revealed new data showing the vaccine’s effect in children. This is good news, but RTS,S will not vanquish malaria by itself. Continue reading…

Los Angeles Times

Editorial. Medi-Cal for ex-inmates. October 8, 2013.
More than 100,000 people are booked into Los Angeles County's jails each year. When they arrive, many of them are receiving healthcare benefits through Medi-Cal, the state's healthcare program for the poor. But by the time they leave, those inmates often have no healthcare coverage. Continue reading…

Hahn, Robert and Passell, Peter. Obamacare: Don’t trust anyone over 60? October 14, 2013.
The Republicans' obsession with Obamacare has been variously described as a tactical ploy to preserve the semblance of unity in a divided party or as a fundraising magnet to raise money from the sort of folks who think President Obama is a reincarnation of Lenin. It may be either (or both). But the idea of closing down the government, and even threatening to precipitate a global credit crisis, over the healthcare law has been widely written off as myopia on the part of the live-free-or-die crowd. Continue reading…

Editorial. The vaccination loophole. October 16, 2013.
Why did Gov. Jerry Brown bother signing a law to encourage childhood vaccinations if his immediate intent was to undermine it? Continue reading…

Miller, Henry I. How to build a better flu vaccine. October 17, 2013.
The Spanish flu pandemic of 1918-19 killed 583,135 Americans, according to public health authorities at the time. Continue reading…

New York Times

Editorial. Rolling the Dice on Food-Borne Illnesses. October 11, 2013.
The government shutdown has caused staff reductions at two important federal health agencies, increasing the risk of serious harm to American consumers from food-borne illnesses. The two agencies — the Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention — have decided to focus their remaining resources on imminent threats. But they have shut down very important work that allows them to spot potentially serious problems in advance and take steps to head them off. The longer Congressional Republicans allow the shutdown to continue, the greater the danger of harm. Continue reading…

Amrith, Sunil. The Bay of Bengal, in Peril from Climate Change. October 13, 2013.
LONDON — Nearly one in four people on earth live in the countries that border the Bay of Bengal. The region is strategically vital to Asia’s rising powers. Its low-lying littoral — including coastal regions of eastern India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Thailand, Malaysia and Sumatra — is home to over half a billion people who are now acutely vulnerable to rising sea levels. Storms are a constant threat; over the weekend, a cyclone, Phailin, swept in from the bay to strike the coastal Indian state of Odisha, leading to the evacuation of some 800,000 people. Continue reading…

Editorial. Hope for a Malaria Vaccine. October 13, 2013.
The most ambitious clinical trial of a malaria vaccine has shown some effectiveness in children over an 18-month period. While its efficacy is modest, it is nonetheless a significant advance in the long struggle to control a disease that kills some 600,000 people a year, mostly children under the age of 5. Continue reading…

Orekunrin, Ola. Africa’s Trauma Epidemic. October 17, 2013.
LAGOS — It was dusk and I was on my way home from Abeokuta, a vibrant city in southwest Nigeria. My driver had switched off the car’s air-conditioning so I could open the windows and feel the breeze. He was weaving between potholes in the road when suddenly, the scene ahead changed. Continue reading…

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