Yale Institution for Social and Policy Studies

Greetings from Stephen Latham, Bioethics Center Director

It’s the weekend of The Game, and Thanksgiving is nearly upon us. We won’t be sending out a newsletter next week, so I’m taking the chance now to flag some early December events.

First, we have our Bioethics Legal Research Workshop coming up on Wednesday, December 4. Look below for details.

On Thursday December 5, the Yale Pediatric Ethics Program is hosting a talk by Alice Dreger (Medical Humanities, Northwestern) on "Surgical 'Normalization' for Children Born with Ambiguous Genitalia.” The talk will be in the Cohen Auditorium at 4:30. Refreshments will be served, so please RSVP to Karen.Kolb@Yale.edu.

Finally, we have our co-sponsored conference on Personhood Beyond the Human on December 6-8; the Friday evening keynote speaker will be Peter Singer (Bioethics, Princeton) on “Who is a Person? A Non-Speciesist Answer.”

If you have news or events you’d like to see mentioned here, email me at Stephen.Latham@Yale.edu with the word “Frimail” in your subject-line.


Bioethics Legal Research Workshop
December 4th, 2013, 2:00pm to 3:30pm
Location: Yale Law School: Computer Classroom on L2
This session, co-sponsored by the Yale Interdisciplinary Center for Bioethics and the Medical School’s Program on Biomedical Ethics, will introduce non-lawyers to the principles of legal research with a focus on researching bioethics issues. The session will focus on using resources available to the wider Yale (non-law school) community and on the Yale network, as well as free and low-cost options for research. Please register here. Contact: Jason Eiseman


December 6-8

Keynote Speaker:
Peter Singer
Princeton University

Co-sponsored with the
Institute for Emerging Technology

Click here for conference website

  Updates from the Summer Institute

Campus Events

Grants, Fellowships & Jobs



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Updates from the Summer Institute

From Associate Director Carol Pollard

*Roberto Sanchez writes: “work on my summer paper led me to become really interested in the HIV world, and I am now shadowing an HIV expert in my hospital, Dr. Daniel Carnevali.  Dr. Carnevali is well-known and well-respected in Europe for his work in this field.”  (Congratulations Roberto!)

*Carrie Broughton is expecting a baby girl and put a twenty-week scan on Facebook.   *Allison Grady commented: “Our babies can be friends!  Transatlantic playdates anyone?”  (Congratulations Carrie and Allison!)

*Santiago Peregalli Politi is now Food Security and Nutrition Officer at DAY-Tu Huerto.  (Congratulations Santi!)

*Rebecca Oliver writes: “My short time in New Haven and the wonderful people I met will always have a special place in my heart…I will be doing the MBE program at UPENN (University of Pennsylvania) and wanted to hear from anyone who has been through that program about good places to live in Philadelphia.”  (Please e-mail Rebecca if you have some information for her!)

*James Muller writes: “I was granted admission to the University of Virginia Law School and will be matriculating there next Fall!  (Congratulations James!)

*Maria Kerr will be doing the Teach for America Program in Mississippi in 2014.  “I’m ready to deepen my Southern accent, my love of fried chicken, and my passion for kids.”  (Congratulations Maria!)

*Zohar Lederman writes: “I’m happy to report that The Yale Journal of Biology and Medicine accepted a paper I wrote with a colleague titled “Attitudes of Yale Staff Members Towards Family Presence during Resuscitation.”  It describes the survey I conducted in the Emergency Department shortly after our Summer Program ended.”  (Congratulations Zohar!)

*Rachel Teo writes: “I'm in Singapore at the moment, and I've started my internship/casual contract work at the Centre of Biomedical Ethics at the National University of Singapore!  It's been interesting so far.  I have the privilege of attending lectures and seminars, when the University holds them, and administrative responsibilities that wax and wane, depending on the department's schedule for events.  I've also been offered a study grant from my university in Australia for a Masters of Bioethics, and I will go back to do it in February next year.”  (Congratulations on all your undertakings, Rachel!)

Notes from Carol:

*Those of you in the UK please note that the Progress Educational Trust’s Annual Conference “Double Take: Twins in Genetics and Fertility Treatment,” is taking place in central London on Wednesday, December 4.  Both the themes of the Conference and the experts who are due to speak at it have been featured prominently in BioNews.  So for more information please see: bionews@bionews.org.uk

*Leora Kahn, one of our past morning lecturers, is the founder and executive director of PROOF: Media for Social Justice.  She and a group of internationally known photojournalists decided to combine their skills and experience in visual storytelling for genocide prevention and peace-building.  They create exhibitions, publications, and on-site activities in nations with some of the world’s most troubled histories.  PROOF’s exhibitions tell untold stories of acts of moral courage as well as document injustice and human rights abuses.  If you want to get involved with PROOF and its projects, please contact info@proof.org  Some of our summer students have done internships with these folks and found it to be an amazing experience.

*In case you didn’t notice it in last week’s newsletter - A Call for Papers in Bioethics Education: The Hastings Center and President Obama’s bioethics commission will produce a special report on current themes in bioethics education.  Guest editors include Mildred Z. Solomon, president and CEO of The Hastings Center, and Lisa Lee, executive director of the presidential commission.  They are inviting papers on certain topics.  For more information, see publications@thehastingscenter.org

*Nature News & Comment is featuring an article titled “Malaria: A race against resistance.”  A description includes the following: “Several African nations could strike a major blow against malaria by sacrificing the efficacy of some older drugs.  Can they make it work?"

*Science published an article titled “India’s Supreme Court Mandates Videotaped Consent in Clinical Trials.”  (October 22, 2013)  The central government was ordered to issue regulations mandating videotaped informed consent of all participants in any clinical trial conducted on Indian soil, as well as cost-benefit analyses of potential drugs before trials can proceed.


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This Fortnight on Campus

Tuesday, November 26

Child Study Center Grand Rounds
Time: 1 PM
Location: 230 South Frontage Rd, Cohen Auditorium
Speaker: Moshe Szyf, PhD, GSK and James McGill Professor of Pharmacology, McGill Medical School
Topic:Epigenetic Mechanisms that Mediate the Long-Term Effects of Early Life Adversity

Monday, December 2

History of Science and Medicine Colloquium
Time: 4:30 PM
Location: 320 York St, room 211
Speaker:Andrew Curran, Dean of the Arts and Humanities; Professor of French, Wesleyan University
Topic:Anthropology, Anatomy, and the Birth of Race, c. 1770

Wednesday, December 4

Rudd Center Seminar
Time: 12:30 PM
Location: 309 Edwards St, conf room
Speaker:Amy Dawson Taggart, National Director, Mission: Readiness
Topic:Childhood Obesity: A National Security Issue? 

Environmental Law & Policy Webinar
Time: 3 PM
Location: online
Speaker: Janelle Orsi, Executive Director, Sustainable Economies Law Center
Topic: Legal Structures for Just and Sustainable Food Systems

Environmental Economics Seminar
Time: 4 PM
Location: 195 Prospect St, room 321
Speaker:Agha Akram, Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies
Topic: Reducing Early Childhood Diarrhea: Enhanced Own-learning and Technology Adoption

Thursday, December 5

AIDS Colloquium at CIRA
Time: 12 PM
Location: 135 College St, LL15
Speaker: Stefan Baral, Department of Epidemiology, Johns Hopkins School of Public Health
Topic:Risks, Vulnerabilities, and Burden of HIV among Key Populations in Low and Middle Income Countries

Fox International Fellows Program Lecture
Time: 12 PM
Location: 34 Hillhouse Ave, room 203
Speaker: Amrita Nandy, Fox International Fellow, Jawaharlal Nehru University, India
Topic: Entanglements of Motherhood and Choice: Debates Around Non-normative Women

Program in Biomedical Ethics Lecture
Time: 4:30 PM
Location: 230 South Frontage Rd, Cohen Auditorium
Speaker:Alice Dreger, PhD, Professor of Clinical Medical Humanities and Bioethics, Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine
Topic: Surgical 'Normalization' for Children Born with Ambiguous Genitalia: Controversies, Consensuses, and the Constant Cultural Conundrum

Public Health Workshop
Time: 5 PM
Location: 100 Wall St, room 40
Speaker: Ned Breslin, founder of Water For People
Topic: Health Innovation, Social Entrepreneurship

Humanities in Medicine's Baskin Lecture
Time: 5 PM
Location: 300 Cedar St, Anlyan Auditorium
Speaker: Vincent deLuise, MD, Assistant Clinical Professor of Ophthalmology, Yale School of Medicine
Topic:With an Artistic Vision: An Ophthalmologist Looks at Visual Perception, the Arts and Eye Disease

Friday, December 6

Biospheric Studies Seminar
Time: 12 PM
Location: 21 Sachem St, room 110
Speaker: Stephen Stearns, Edward P. Bass Professor of Ecology & Evolutionary Biology, Yale University
Topic: Evolutionary Conflicts and Mental Disease

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Grants, Fellowships, & Jobs

FASPE (Fellowships at Auschwitz for the Study of Professional Ethics) is still accepting applications for a fellowship that uses the conduct of doctors and other medical professional in Nazi Germany as a launching point for a two-week intensive study of contemporary medical ethics. Fellowships include an all-expense paid trip from New York to Berlin, Krakow, and Oświęcim (Auschwitz) where students will work with leading faculty to explore both history and the ethical issues facing doctors today. All program costs, including international and European travel, lodging, and food, are covered. The 2014 FASPE Seminary program will run from June 15 to June 26, 2014. Completed applications must be received by January 6, 2014. Candidates of all religious, ethnic, and cultural backgrounds are encouraged to apply. To apply or to learn more about FASPE, please visit: www.FASPE.info If you have any questions, please contact Thorin R. Tritter, Managing Director of FASPE, at ttritter@FASPE.info.

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Articles of Interest

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In the News

Featured Article

Morales, Alex. Typhoon Fuels Call For Global Warning Compensation Funds. Bloomberg Business Week. 18 November 2013.
The typhoon that killed thousands of people in the Philippines has energized debate about whether rich nations should compensate poor ones for climate-related losses, a proposal the U.S. and European Union are resisting. Some 130 countries, including islands concerned they’ll disappear with rising sea levels, are pushing for reparations as part of a “loss and damage” mechanism at United Nations climate talks in Warsaw this week. They blame countries that industrialized 200 years ago for damaging the atmosphere. Continue reading...


Wald, Matthew. For First Time, E.P.A. Proposes Reducing Ethanol Requirement For Gas Mix. The New York Times. 15 November 2013.
The Environmental Protection Agency on Friday proposed reducing the amount of ethanol that is required to be mixed with the gasoline supply, the first time it has taken steps to slow down the drive to replace fossil fuels with renewable forms of energy. The move was expected, but it drew bitter complaints from advocates of ethanol, including some environmentalists, who see the corn-based fuel blend as a weapon to fight climate change. It was also unwelcome news to farmers, who noted that the decision came at a time when a record corn crop is expected, and the price of a bushel has fallen almost to the cost of production. Continue reading...

Joyce, Christopher. How And Where Should We Rebuild After Natural Disasters? NPR. 18 November 2013.
The physical damage from Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines is catastrophic. Hundreds of thousands of people are now homeless. Soon, though, people will start to rebuild, as they have after similar natural disasters. How they do it, and where, is increasingly important in places like the Philippines. The island nation lies in a sort of "typhoon alley," and with climate change and rising sea levels, there are more storms in store. Continue reading...

Goldenberg, Suzanne. Just 90 Companies Caused Two-Thirds of Manmade Global Warming Emissions. The Guardian. 20 November 2013.
The climate crisis of the 21st century has been caused largely by just 90 companies, which between them produced nearly two-thirds of the greenhouse gas emissions generated since the dawning of the industrial age, new research suggests. The companies range from investor-owned firms – household names such as Chevron, Exxon and BP – to state-owned and government-run firms. Continue reading...


Charles, Dan. Organic Farmers Bash FDA Restrictions on Manure Use. NPR. 21 November 2013.
Many organic farmers are hopping mad at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, and their reason involves perhaps the most underappreciated part of agriculture: plant food, aka fertilizer. Specifically, the FDA, as part of its overhaul of food safety regulations, wants to limit the use of animal manure. "We think of it as the best thing in the world," says organic farmer Jim Crawford, "and they think of it as toxic and nasty and disgusting." Every highly productive farmer depends on fertilizer. But organic farmers are practically obsessive about it, because they've renounced industrial sources of nutrients. Continue reading...

Health and Medicine

Breed, Allen. Seeking Lung Donors After At-Home Death. The Associated Press. 18 November 2013.
The pair of lungs sits inside a clear dome, gently inflating as doctors measure how well they'll breathe if implanted into a patient who desperately needs a new set. It's a little-known twist of nature — your lungs can live on for a while after you die. The air left inside keeps them from deteriorating right away as other organs do. An innovative experiment now aims to use that hour-or-more window of time to boost lung transplants by allowing donations from people who suddenly collapse and die at home instead of in a hospital. Continue reading...

Stein, Rob. Gut Bacteria Might Guide the Workings Of Our Minds. NPR. 18 November 2013.
Could the microbes that inhabit our guts help explain that old idea of "gut feelings?" There's growing evidence that gut bacteria really might influence our minds. "I'm always by profession a skeptic," says Dr. Emeran Mayer, a professor of medicine and psychiatry at the University of California, Los Angeles. "But I do believe that our gut microbes affect what goes on in our brains." Mayer thinks the bacteria in our digestive systems may help mold brain structure as we're growing up, and possibly influence our moods, behavior and feelings when we're adults. "It opens up a completely new way of looking at brain function and health and disease," he says. Continue reading...

Pear, Robert. Perks Ease Way In Health Plans for Lawmakers. The New York Times. 19 November 2013.
Members of Congress like to boast that they will have the same health care enrollment experience as constituents struggling with the balky federal website, because the law they wrote forced lawmakers to get coverage from the new insurance exchanges. That is true. As long as their constituents have access to “in-person support sessions” like the ones being conducted at the Capitol and congressional office buildings by the local exchange and four major insurers. Or can log on to a special Blue Cross and Blue Shield website for members of Congress and use a special toll-free telephone number — a “dedicated congressional health insurance plan assistance line.” And then there is the fact that lawmakers have a larger menu of “gold plan” insurance choices than most of their constituents have back home. Continue reading...

Medical Ethics

Gorenstein, Dan. How Doctors Die – Showing Others The Way. The New York Times. 19 November 2013.
When it comes to dying, doctors, of course, are ultimately no different from the rest of us. And their emotional and physical struggles are surely every bit as wrenching. But they have a clear advantage over many of us. They have seen death up close. They understand their choices, and they have access to the best that medicine has to offer. Continue reading...


Pollack, Andrew. Developing a Fax Machine to Copy Life on Mars. The New York Times. 17 November 2013.
J. Craig Venter, the maverick scientist, is looking for a new world to conquer — Mars. He wants to detect life on Mars and bring it to Earth using a device called a digital biological converter, or biological teleporter. Although the idea conjures up “Star Trek,” the analogy is not exact. The transporter on that program actually moves Captain Kirk from one location to another. Dr. Venter’s machine would merely create a copy of an organism from a distant location — more like a biological fax machine. Continue reading...

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In the Journals

Friedman, Daniela B. What Do People Really Know and Think About Clinical Trials? A Comparison of Rural and Urban Communities in the South. Journal of Community Health. August 2013.
Clinical trials (CTs) have the potential to provide the most advanced medical treatments and screening options and help medically underserved individuals, including those in rural communities, obtain the medical care they need. Despite the need for access to care, CT participation remains low in rural communities. This study examined what individuals in both rural and urban communities of a Southeastern state know and think about CTs. Nineteen focus groups and eight interviews were conducted statewide with a total of 212 men and women. Discussions assessed participants’ beliefs, perceptions, and sources of information about CTs, and their willingness to participate in a CT. Focus group and interview transcripts were analyzed qualitatively for themes. Urban and rural participants expressed similar beliefs about CTs. Common misperceptions were that CTs were intended for people who could not afford care and that completing a survey or participating in a focus group constituted a CT. Rural residents believed that CTs involved deception more often than urban residents, and they were less willing than urban residents to participate in a CT in the future. Urban residents more frequently discussed their distrust of the medical system as a reason for not wanting to participate. Many individuals expressed that their participation would depend on whether their doctor recommended it or whether the trial would benefit a family member’s health. Findings have important implications for health communication. Messages should be developed to address misperceptions of rural and urban communities and convey the importance of CT participation to promote and protect the health of their communities. Continue reading…

Ravitsky, Vardit. Incentives for postmortem organ donation: Ethical and cultural considerations. Journal of Medical Ethics: Journal of the Institute of Medical Ethics. June 2013.
Recently, a country suffering from severe shortage in organs has implemented a policy of financial incentives that uses cash payments. Wu and Fang describe a recent pilot programme in China that compensates families for postmortem donation, through an independent third party (the Red Cross Society of China) and based on consent or presumed consent (ie, no documented past objection) of the deceased. The particular context within which this programme is implemented validates and even exacerbates some ethical concerns that have been voiced in the Western medical and bioethics literature. Two distinctive features of this programme-paying families in extreme financial distress and the context of cultural resistance-carry particular ethical implications that are addressed in this commentary. Continue reading…

Rosenberg, Abby R. Resilience and psychosocial outcomes in parents of children with cancer Pediatric Blood & Cancer. 2013.
The psychosocial function of parents of children with cancer can impact the well-being of the entire family. Resilience resources are likely related to psychosocial outcomes and may be amenable to intervention. We hypothesized that parents with lower resources would report worse outcomes. Continue reading…

Torabizadeh, Camellia. Incongruent Perceptions Among Nurses and Patients: A Qualitative Study of Patient's Dignity in Iran. Ethics & Behavior. September 2013.
Dignity is the most fundamental right of every human being, patients in particular. Despite being a fairly disputed concept, dignity is a multidimensional issue, the interpretation of which is affected by a multitude of factors. Semistructured interviews and observation data from 35 patients, their companions, and nurses were performed to highlight their views with regard to patients' dignity in health care centers. Although findings reveal that nearly all patients felt that their dignity had been violated, there is a considerable difference between participants' viewpoints of dignity. Interactions among participants can increase their awareness of dignity and may lead to its maintenance. Continue reading…

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Ars Technica

Johnson, Scott K. Filling in data gaps with satellites makes the last few years a little warmer. November 15, 2013.
If you want to take someone’s temperature to see if they have a fever, you know where to put the thermometer. (Sorry, infants.) But where do you take the temperature of Earth’s climate? Inconveniently, the answer is “everywhere”—you need measurements covering the planet to properly calculate the global average surface temperature. That’s no big deal for Europe, where a local weather station is never far away, but it's much more of a problem for the North and South Poles where records are hard-won. A new analysis shows that how you deal with this problem makes a difference in what temperature you end up reading. Continue reading…

Prengaman, Kate. Impacts of climate change observed in global precipitation patterns. November 16, 2013.
More evidence turned up this week indicating that climate change impacts are already underway—this time in rainfall patterns. It's pretty hard to clearly link climate change to individual droughts, like the summer of 2012 in the United States, or specific storms, like Hurricane Haiyan that devastated the Philippines last week. These events are driven by a complex set of factors, including natural variations. But new research that tracked a broad look at precipitation patterns found that they have already shifted beyond the bounds of natural variations. Continue reading…

Swift, Stephanie. Chilly temperatures foster cancer growth in mice. November 18, 2013.
At low temperatures, the human body has a hard time. As the cold sets in, blood vessels constrict to maintain heat, and some body parts—like fingers and toes—begin to suffer. Metabolism ramps up to fight the cold and shivering sets in. As these conditions continue, everything becomes sluggish, as the cells of your body do not work as well. The body enters a state of thermal stress, and only the most vital systems, like the brain, are left switched on. Continue reading…

Chicago Tribune

Editorial. Stop digging. Start over. November 15, 2013.
As Friday dawns, here's what a health insurance crisis looks like to many millions of Americans: Barely six weeks shy of 2014, they do not know whether they will have medical coverage Jan. 1. Or which hospitals and doctors they might patronize. Or what they may pay to protect themselves and their families against the chance of medical and financial catastrophe. How much, that is, they may pay in order to satisfy the Democratic politicians and federal bureaucrats who are worsening a metastasizing health coverage fiasco. Continue reading…

The Economist                            

Science & Technology. Acid test. November 23, 2013.
Humans, being a terrestrial species, are pleased to call their home “Earth”. A more honest name might be “Sea”, as more than seven-tenths of the planet’s surface is covered with salt water. Moreover, this water houses algae, bacteria (known as cyanobacteria) and plants that generate about half the oxygen in the atmosphere. And it also provides seafood—at least 15% of the protein eaten by 60% of the planet’s human population, an industry worth $218 billion a year. Its well-being is therefore of direct concern even to landlubbers. Continue reading…

Los Angeles Times

Editorial. Obamacare’s dismal stats. November 14, 2013.
The Obama administration made it official Wednesday: The number of people who signed up for health coverage through new state and federal insurance exchanges last month was dwarfed by the number whose policies have been canceled as a result of the 2010 Affordable Care Act. The figures were disappointing but not surprising, considering how badly the federally run exchanges' website, HealthCare.gov, has malfunctioned. Yet as tempting as it may be for lawmakers to delay or reverse some of the changes set in motion by the law, they should give the administration more time to get HealthCare.gov back on track and consumers more time to learn about their options. Continue reading…

Editorial. AIDS Healthcare Foundations vs. LA. County. November 17, 2013.
How can anyone go wrong criticizing Los Angeles County government? It's big, bulky and slow. Many of its data systems are locked in an outmoded paper-and-pushcart world, gumming up communication among offices and denying competent service to a large chunk of the county's approximately 10 million residents. It breaks public meeting laws and withholds vital information. Continue reading…

Editorial. Giving Obamacare some help. November 20, 2013.
The longer it takes the Obama administration to fix the problems at Healthcare.gov, the greater the risk that some Americans will be left without health insurance coverage when the new year begins. That's why the administration has rightly, albeit belatedly, tried to provide more ways to sign up for subsidized policies online. Some of the alternatives should be embraced by the states that are running their own insurance exchanges, regardless of how well their sites are functioning. But others have real drawbacks. Continue reading…

New York Times

Editorial. The Shame of American Health Care. November 17, 2013.
Even as Americans struggle with the changes required by health care reform, an international survey released last week by the Commonwealth Fund, a research organization, shows why change is so necessary. Continue reading…

Editorial. Texas Women and Abortion Rights. November 20, 2013.
In an alarming 5-to-4 ruling, the Supreme Court turned away an emergency application to block a new Texas law that is impeding access to safe and legal abortion care in the state. The ruling leaves in place an order by the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit that allowed the law go into effect while it considers an appeal. Continue reading…


McDonnell, Tim. A Climate-Change Victory. November 17, 2013.
Climate deniers like to point to the so-called global warming “hiatus” as evidence that humans aren't changing the climate. But according a new study, exactly the opposite is true: The recent slowdown in global temperature increases is partially the result of one of the few successful international crackdowns on greenhouse gases. Continue reading…

Posner, Eric.  You Can Have Either Climate Justice or a Climate Treaty. Not Both. November 19, 2013.
In the wake of the devastation to the Philippines caused by Typhoon Haiyan, a long-standing claim for “climate justice” has re-emerged with new force. Countries vulnerable to more devastation, as temperatures rise, want rich countries that have benefited from industry that produces greenhouse gas emissions to pay them reparations. Advocates argue that climate change negotiations, currently being held in Warsaw, should aim for a climate treaty that forces the climate wrongdoers to pay the climate victims. This would mean countries like Bangladesh, the Philippines, and Kenya getting money from countries like the United States so that they don’t alone bear the cost of a global carbon dioxide overload that they did little to cause. It sounds great—but such an approach would doom the prospects of a climate treaty, and the argument for it doesn’t add up. Continue reading…

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