Yale Institution for Social and Policy Studies

Greetings from Stephen Latham, Bioethics Center Director

Our weekend-long co-sponsored conference on “Personhood Beyond the Human” will begin shortly, with a keynote this evening at 7:30 by Peter Singer (Bioethics, Princeton) on “Who is a Person? A Non-Speciesist Answer.” Singer will speak in Davies Auditorium; the remainder of the conference weekend will take place in Luce Hall. See the link for further details about the impressive lineup of conference speakers on issues of moral personhood among animals and in artificial intelligence.

On Wednesday, December 11, our Technology and Ethics group will continue its impressive series on robotic and drone warfare with Mark Hagerott (Cyber Security, US Naval Academy) speaking on “Robots, cyber and war: an historical framework to make a bit more sense of it all.”  The talk will be at ISPS at 4:15 PM, room A002.

Thank you to Yale law librarians Jason Eiseman and Sarah Ryan for putting on last week’s successful workshop on bioethics legal research for non-lawyers. We’ve already had requests for repeat performances and additional installments, so stay tuned for more dates in the coming semester.

Bioethics Scholar Bonnie Kaplan gave several presentations at the recent American Medical Informatics Associate annual Symposium in Washington, DC; two of her panel presentations addressed ethical, legal and social concerns in informatics. Congratulations, Bonnie!

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.

  Wednesday, December 11 at 4:15 PM
Technology & Ethics group
Location: 77 Prospect St, room A002
Speaker: Mark Hagerott, Distinguished Professor of Cyber Security, United States Naval Academy
Robots, cyber and war: An historical framework to make a bit more sense of it all

  Updates from the Summer Institute

Campus Events

Conferences & Off Campus Events

Grants, Fellowships & Jobs



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Updates from the Summer Institute

From Associate Director Carol Pollard

*Tyler Ryan has been accepted into the medical career exploration program at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, MA. (Congratulations Tyler!)

*Please check out morning lecturer Dan Callahan’s OP/ED that appeared in The New York Times Sunday Review on December 1st titled “On Dying After Your Time.”  (Congratulations Dan!)

*Tyler Bourgoise is now a Bioethics Research Intern at Mt. Sinai Icahn School of Medicine, New York City.  (Congratulations Tyler!)

*Shawna Benston writes: “Here is my promised update now that my Symposium (“Bioethics, Healthcare Policy and Alternative Dispute Resolution in the Age of Obamacare”) is over.  I'm thrilled to report that my Symposium went extraordinarily well!  The speakers--who included Edward Bergman, Nancy Berlinger, Arthur Caplan, Geoff Drucker, Nancy Dubler, Autumn Fiester, Debra Gerardi, Mindy Hatton, Michael Kosnitzky, Carol Liebman, Joe Miller, Thaddeus Pope, Charity Scott, Michelle Skipper, and Ellen Waldman--prioritized an interactive approach, and the audience really enjoyed it.  It was a great experience working with all of the speakers leading up to the big event, and then meeting a lot of very interesting attendees who share the interest of bioethics dispute resolution.  This was truly the best day of my law school career and epitomized why I chose law school in which to earn a terminal degree: embracing an interdisciplinary collaboration to discuss pressing issues of bioethics. My journal's Symposium Issue, which will feature articles on bioethics ADR from many of the Symposium participants and will be dedicated to Professor Adrienne Asch, who gave so much to the intersecting fields of bioethics and disability rights and who had wished to deliver the Symposium's closing keynote speech.  If anyone is interested in subscribing to the Cardozo Journal of Conflict Resolution in time to receive this special issue (which we anticipate being released in February 2014), they can contact me at shawna.benston@gmail.com.” (Congratulations Shawna!)

*Pranav Reddy writes: “I've been meaning to send an e-mail update to you for a while.  After spending a year in Calcutta working for Calcutta Kids (a maternal/child health NGO), I started up medical school at Brown in August and have been busy living a very different life than the year before.  I've been enjoying medical school, although it's very tough, and being around many different people with different backgrounds has definitely helped.  We also get the chance to do a lot of humanities/medicine crossover, including ethics, which is something near and dear to my heart and keeps me sane amongst the biochemical pathways.”  (Congratulations and Good Luck Pranav!)

*Jacqueline Fox, teacher and mentor to many of our students, has written a blog post that explains why the private insurance market changes are not necessarily political, and how they make sense from a public health perspective.  The language is meant to be very approachable to people outside the law.  The first paragraph is as follows:  “The Affordable Care Act is huge, and covers many, many things.  The focus of public debate in recent months has been on the parts related to personal insurance, especially for individuals who don’t get care from their employers.  People seem puzzled, frightened, and angered by many of the changes.  I thought it might help to clarify what the public health thinking is that has gone into this new structure.” (Jacqueline is an Associate Professor at the University of South Carolina School of Law.  Congratulations Jacqueline!)

Of Note:

*Nicholas D Kristof has just published his annual guide: “Gifts That Reflect the Spirit of the Season.”  This is what the Holiday Season is really about.  Please check it out!

*Have you heard about the “Trolley Problem”—a philosophical conundrum?  A good discussion can be found in The New York Times in a book review written by Sarah Bakewell about two books that have recently been published on the topic.

*Support and Assist Local Doctors in Developing Countries:  Unite for Sight is hoping to give you the opportunity to work, along with your friends and colleagues, in their volunteer abroad program.  You can volunteer for one week, one month, or multiple months during the upcoming year.  Ghana, Honduras, or India awaits and needs your help.  This is an immersive global health experience for students and professionals who are interested in public health, international development, medicine, or social entrepreneurship.  If interested, please contact Jennifer Staple-Clark (jstaple@uniteforsight.org)

*Duke University is introducing their Master of Arts in Bioethics and Science Policy program!  (scienceandsociety@duke.edu)  Check it out!


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This Week on Campus

Saturday, December 7

Chubb Fellowship Lecture
Time: 2:30 PM
Location: Shubert Theatre, 247 College St
Speaker: Wendell Berry, poet, novelist, philosopher, environmental activist, cultural critic, and farmer
Buy tickets

Monday, December 9

Business & the Environment Colloquium
Time: 11:45 AM
Location: 195 Prospect St, Burke Auditorium
Speakers: Yalmaz Siddiqui, Senior Director, Environmental Strategy, Office Depot
Michael Murphy, Executive Director, Worldwide Regulatory Compliance Engineering & Environmental Affairs, Dell Inc.

Moderator: Dr. Anastasia O’Rourke (Yale ’09), Principal, DEKRA Sustainability
Topic: Nudging Big Buyers Towards Greener Products

Thursday, December 12

Human Rights Workshop
Time: 4:15 PM
Location: 127 Wall St, Faculty Lounge
Speaker:Param-Preet Singh, Senior Counsel, International Justice Program, Human Rights Watch
Topic: National Justice for Serious International Crimes: The Challenge of Political Will

Humanities in Medicine Lecture
Time: 5 PM
Location: 300 Cedar St, Anlyan Auditorium
Speaker: Edward Ball, Author; & Lecturer, English and American Studies Department, Yale
Topic: Edward Muybridge, Anatomist and Murderer: The Human Body, Motion Studies, and the Birth of Moving Pictures

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Conferences & Off Campus Events

Companies' Global Health 'Footprint': Could Rating Help?
Monday, December 9, 2013, 8:00 AM - 6:00 PM
Joseph B. Martin Conference Ctr, Harvard Medical School; Medical Center Area, Boston, MA
Imagine a rating or accreditation system for companies' "global health footprint." Such a system would rigorously assess companies' overall impact on human health, including the health of the world's poorest and sickest populations, then disseminate this information in ways that users could readily understand and act upon. If successful, such a system would inform and enhance choice for ethically-minded corporate executives, board members, investors, business partners, workers, consumers, and regulators. Bringing together leaders and experts in ethics, global health, business, law, communication, and health-related quality and safety certification, this conference will discuss dilemmas, share best practices, and seek to identify forms of global health impact monitoring and labeling that could be affordable, rigorous, reliable, sensitive to community needs, and user-friendly. More information, including the full conference agenda, is available here. The conference is free and open to the public, but registration is required. Please register here. Organized by: Nir Eyal, Associate Professor of Global Health and Social Medicine, Harvard; Jennifer Miller, Edmond J. Safra Lab Fellow, Harvard; President Bioethics International.  Co-sponsored by the Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics at Harvard University; the Division of Medical Ethics at Harvard Medical School; the Harvard Global Health Institute; and the Petrie-Flom Center, with support from the Oswald DeN. Cammann Fund.

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Health Law Year in P/Review
Friday, January 31, 2014, 8:30am to 5:00pm
Wasserstein Hall, Milstein East C (2036), Harvard Law School, 1585 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA
Please join the Petrie-Flom Center and the New England Journal of Medicine for our second annual Health Law Year in P/Review event.  This year we will welcome experts discussing major developments over the past year and what to watch out for in areas including the Affordable Care Act, medical malpractice, FDA regulatory policy, abortion, contraception, intellectual property in the life sciences industry, public health policy, and human subjects research. The full agenda is available on our website. Attendance is free and open to the public, but space is limited and registration is required. Contact petrie-flom@law.harvard.edu with questions.

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Registration is now open for exhibit space at the Twenty-third Annual Meeting of the Association for Practical and Professional Ethics taking place February 27 to March 2, 2014 at the Hyatt Regency Jacksonville, Riverfront Hotel in Jacksonville, Florida. You can find more information about the Association and download the Registration Form on our website. The reservation deadline for exhibitors is January 10, 2014 or as soon as all exhibition space is sold. The Association for Practical and Professional Ethics was founded in 1991 to encourage interdisciplinary scholarship and teaching of high quality in practical and professional ethics by educators and practitioners who appreciate the practical-theoretical aspects of their subjects. Each year at our Annual Meeting, attendees use the Book Resource Room to find materials to use in the classroom, for research and for personal use. The Book Resource Room at the Annual Meeting is typically a display only exhibit with no representatives. Displays are set-up and managed by Association staff. Annual Meeting participants purchase materials directly from the publisher using ordering information and price lists supplied by the publisher. This helps to keep costs low for the Association and publishers.  Charges for exhibiting are as follows: 1-10 titles $125.00; 11-25 titles $150.00; 26-50 titles $175.00. For information tables with no items for sale, the charge is $100/table. Registration Fees can be paid through our website. You can also follow the instructions on the website to pay by check or electronic transfer. All registration fees include a one page advertisement in an electronic presentation in the Book Resource Room. When you register, please e-mail a one page electronic .jpg file to be included to marywill@indiana.edu. You can use this service to highlight a new book, discounted meeting prices or service offered by your organization. This electronic presentation will be highly visible to everyone browsing the Book Exhibit and another way to promote your services and materials.  Registration charges assume that exhibit copies of materials will be donated to the Association for Practical and Professional Ethics. If publishers choose to have exhibit copies returned, arrangements must be made in advance and will include a $150 service fee, plus shipping costs. If publishers send a representative to manage their exhibit where sales are separate and display materials are not donated to the Association, the charge is $500. For exhibits using audio-visual equipment, there will be an additional charge. Please contact Mary Ulmet at marywill@indiana.edu for more information. The Book Exhibit Room set-up will be Wednesday, February 26, 2014 at 6:00pm. Materials should be sent the end of February and arrive at the hotel prior to set-up. Detailed instructions for shipping exhibit titles can be found on our website. For even more visibility at the Annual Meeting, advertising space is available in the Annual Meeting Program at the cost of $125 for a full page (6.5w x 9.5h). All copy must be sent camera ready. Advertisements will also be included in an electronic presentation in the Book Exhibit Room. Ad space only in the electronic presentation (and not in the Annual Meeting Program) is available for $50. The advertising deadline is January 10, 2014. We invite you to consider sponsoring an event or service at the Annual Meeting. Sponsorship opportunities of particular interest to publishers include: The Author Reception and Book Signing, The Book Resource Room, Book Resource Room Coffee Station, Book Resource Room Technology Center, Conference Bags, Giveaways for the Awards Ceremony and Banquet. Being a sponsor is an effective way for others to learn about your organization and publications. The Association's Annual Meeting links you with hundreds of institutions and individual across the United States and in 15 foreign countries around the world. Special recognition will be given to each lead and supporting sponsor at the specific program, event and locations during the Annual Meeting. Your sponsorship will be acknowledged at the Annual Awards Ceremony and Banquet. In addition, all sponsors will be listed in the Annual Meeting Official Program and on the Association's website. Please contact the Association's Executive Director, Stuart Yoak, for more information: sdyoak@indiana.edu.

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International Conference on End of Life: Law, Ethics, Policy, and Practice
Health Law Research Centre, Queensland University of Technology, Australia
Deadline for abstracts: April 30, 2014
Deadline for earlybird registration: May 31, 2014
The Health Law Research Centre in Queensland, Australia, is hosting an international conference on End of Life in Brisbane from 13 to 15 August 2014.  The full details can be found at http://icelconference2014.com/. The organizers invite abstract submissions in the 4 key sub-topics: Euthanasia and assisted suicide; Withholding and withdrawal of potentially life-sustaining treatment (e.g. advance care planning, futile treatment); Terminal sedation and palliative care; Determination of death and organ and tissue donation. The full call for abstracts is available here. For more information, visit the conference website. Cosponsored by the Queensland University of Technology Health Law Research Centre, Dalhousie Health Law Institute, and Tsinghua Health Law Research Centre.

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Grants, Fellowships, & Jobs

Systems-Based Research for Evaluating Ecological Impacts of Manufactured Chemicals
URL: http://epa.gov/ncer/rfa/2014/2014_star_eco-impacts.html
Open Date: 12/04/2013  -  Close Date: 03/04/2014
Summary:  The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), as part of its Science to Achieve Results (STAR), and Chemical Safety for Sustainability (CSS) research programs announces the posting of the Request for Applications (RFA), Systems-Based Research for Evaluating Ecological Impacts of Manufactured Chemicals with the goal of applying systems-based approaches for identifying, addressing, and reducing uncertainties from limited exposure data and stressor-response relationships. EPA is seeking applications focusing on integrated, transdisciplinary research that would advance scientific understanding of potential for impacts to ecosystem wellbeing associated with the use of manufactured chemicals. Specifically, the RFA solicits proposals for systems-based research to develop and apply innovative metrics and modeling approaches to improve evaluation of ecological resilience and impact analyses, and to support environmental sustainability. Successful proposals will translate emerging and advanced methods, data, and computational tools to address complexity of these systems and distill drivers of adverse outcomes to ecological organisms and populations. CSS research (http://www.epa.gov/research/chemicalscience/) aims to provide the fundamental knowledge infrastructure and complex systems understanding required to predict potential impacts from use of manufactured chemicals, as well as to develop tools for rapid chemical evaluation and sustainable decisions.   The CSS research program integrates advances in information technology, computational chemistry, and molecular biology to improve Agency prioritization of data requirements and risk assessment of chemicals through signature research in computational toxicology.

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Articles of Interest

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In the News

Featured Article

Gorman, James. Rights Group Is Seeking Status of ‘Legal Person’ For Captive Chimpanzee. The New York Times. 2 December 2013.
Chimpanzees are not people, no matter how they are dressed up for commercials, but perhaps they are close enough that they deserve some of the same rights humans have. That is what an animal rights group claimed on Monday when it filed a classic writ of habeas corpus, that revered staple of American and English law and tired cliché of detective fiction — not for a human being held unlawfully, but for Tommy, a chimpanzee in Gloversville, N.Y. Continue reading...


Barboza, Tony. Studies Warn of Abrupt Environmental Effects of Warming. Los Angeles Times. 3 December 2013.
Scientists sounded alarms Tuesday with a pair of studies challenging the idea that climate change is occurring gradually over the century and that its worst effects can be avoided by keeping emissions below a critical threshold. A National Research Council report says the planet is warming so quickly that the world should expect abrupt and unpredictable consequences in a matter of years or a few decades. Among the changes already underway are the sudden decline in Arctic sea ice and climbing extinction rates, the report found. Continue reading...


Roos, Robert. CDC Finds Holes In Restaurant Food Safety Systems. CIDRAP News. 3 December 2013.
A set of studies released this week by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and its partners points to widespread holes in restaurant food safety systems, such as risky handling of ground beef and chicken and too-warm shipping temperatures for leafy greens. At the same time, the CDC announced plans for a new surveillance system designed to help state and local health departments identify underlying factors that contribute to foodborne disease outbreaks in restaurants and other food service venues. Continue reading...

Westervelt, Eric. These Days, School Lunch Hours Are More Like 15 Minutes. NPR. 4 December 2013.
The school lunch hour in America is a long-gone relic. At many public schools today, kids are lucky to get more than 15 minutes to eat. Some get even less time. And parents and administrators are concerned that a lack of time to eat is unhealthful, especially given that about one-third of American kids are overweight or obese. Continue reading...

Health and Medicine

Humer, Caroline. Genetic Test Maker 23andMe Stops Marketing After FDA Warning. Reuters. 2 December 2013.
Home genetic test maker 23andMe, which is backed by Google Inc, stopped marketing its products last week after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration warned that it did not have regulatory approval to do so, a company spokeswoman said. The company stopped television, radio and online advertising for its $99 DNA test which is supposed to detect a range of genetic variants and provide information about a person's health risks, the spokeswoman said. Continue reading...

Rettner, Rachael. Can You Be Obese and ‘Healthy’? Study Says No. Fox News. 3 December 2013.
The idea that people can be obese and still be "healthy" is called into question by a new study, that finds that, at least over the long term, obesity itself may confer a small increased risk of death. In the study, people who were obese but did not have metabolic problems — meaning they had normal blood pressure, cholesterol, blood sugar and other measures of metabolic health — were still 24 percent more likely to experience a heart problem, such as a heart attack, or die from any cause over a 10-year period, compared with people who were a normal weight and also had no metabolic problems. The results "demonstrate that there is no 'healthy' pattern of obesity," said the researchers, from Mount Sinai Hospital in Toronto. Continue reading...

Rosenthal, Elisabeth. As Hospital Prices Soar, A Stitch Tops $500. The New York Times. 2 December 2013.
In a medical system notorious for opaque finances and inflated bills, nothing is more convoluted than hospital pricing, economists say. Hospital charges represent about a third of the $2.7 trillion annual United States health care bill, the biggest single segment, according to government statistics, and are the largest driver of medical inflation, a new study in The Journal of the American Medical Association found. A day spent as an inpatient at an American hospital costs on average more than $4,000, five times the charge in many other developed countries, according to the International Federation of Health Plans, a global network of health insurance industries. The most expensive hospitals charge more than $12,500 a day. Continue reading...

Medical Ethics

Meier, Barry. Rare Cancer Treatments, Cleared by FDA But Not Subject to Scrutiny. The New York Times. 3 December 2013.
When federal regulators permitted the sale of an unproved device that uses intense heat to combat cancer, they did so for a compelling reason, to give hope to some women desperately ill with cervical cancer. Over the next two years, however, the few hospitals that purchased the $500,000 device did not take part in a study of patients that the manufacturer agreed to perform as a part of the machine’s approval. Cancer experts also said they were surprised that the Food and Drug Administration had approved the machine in the first place. Continue reading...

Associated Press. ACLU Sues U.S. Bishops Over Catholic Hospital Ethics. 3 December 2013.
The American Civil Liberties Union filed a sweeping federal lawsuit against the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops over its ethical guidelines for Roman Catholic hospitals, arguing the directives were to blame for negligent care of a pregnant woman who went into early labor and whose baby died within hours. The ACLU alleges the bishops were negligent because their religious directives prevented Tamesha Means from being told that continuing her pregnancy posed grave risks to her health and her child was not likely to survive. Continue reading...


Healy, Michelle. FDA Aims to Oversee Drug Compounding. USA Today. 2 December 2013.
The Food and Drug Administration outlined plans Monday to encourage large-scale compounding pharmacies to register with the agency and agree to increased federal regulations. The oversight effort is in response to a fungal meningitis outbreak last year that killed 64 people and sickened more than 750 others across the country. The source of the outbreak was traced to tainted steroid injections mixed by the Framingham, Mass.-based New England Compounding Center. Continue reading...

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In the Journals

Galanakis, E. Ethics of Mandatory Vaccination for Healthcare Workers. Eurosurveillance. November 2013.
Healthcare workers (HCWs) are at increased risk of contracting infections at work and further transmitting them to colleagues and patients. Immune HCWs would be protected themselves and act as a barrier against the spread of infections and maintain healthcare delivery during outbreaks, but vaccine uptake rates in HCWs have often been low. In order to achieve adequate immunisation rates in HCWs, mandatory vaccination policies are occasionally implemented by healthcare authorities, but such policies have raised considerable controversy. Here we review the background of this debate, analyse arguments for and against mandatory vaccination policies, and consider the principles and virtues of clinical, professional, institutional and public health ethics. We conclude that there is a moral imperative for HCWs to be immune and for healthcare institutions to ensure HCW vaccination, in particular for those working in settings with high-risk groups of patients. If voluntary uptake of vaccination by HCWs is not optimal, patients’ welfare, public health and also the HCW’s own health interests should outweigh concerns about individual autonomy: fair mandatory vaccination policies for HCWs might be acceptable. Differences in diseases, patient and HCW groups at risk and available vaccines should be taken into consideration when adopting the optimal policy. Continue reading…

Kim, Scott Y H. Varieties of decisional incapacity: theory and practice. The British Journal of Psychiatry. 2013.
Evaluation of decision-making capacity (DMC) for treatment is challenging. Owen et al, in this issue of the Journal, compare the abilities (understanding, appreciation and reasoning) relevant to DMC in medical and psychiatric patients. Here I discuss three key issues their article raises and that are relevant to the direction of future research. Continue reading…

MacDougall, D. Robert. Liberalism, authority, and bioethics commisions. Theoretical Medicine and Bioethics. December 2013.
Bioethicists working on national ethics commissions frequently think of themselves as advisors to the government, but distance themselves from any claims to actual authority. Governments however may find it beneficial to appear to defer to the authority of these commissions when designing laws and policies, and might appoint such commissions for exactly this reason. Where does the authority for setting laws and policies come from? This question is best answered from within a normative political philosophy. This paper explains the locus of moral authority as understood within one family of normative political theories—liberal political theories—and argues that most major “liberal” commentators have understood both the source and scope of ethics commissions’ authority in a manner at odds with liberalism, rightly interpreted. The author argues that reexamining the implications of liberalism for bioethics commissions would mean changing what are considered valid criticisms of such commissions and also changing the content of national bioethics commission mandates. The author concludes that bioethicists who participate in such commissions ought to carefully examine their own views about the normative limits of governmental authority because such limits have important implications for the contribution that bioethicists can legitimately make to government commissions. Continue reading…

Rosenberg, Abby R. Why Should Nanoscience Students be Taught to be Ethically Competent? Science and Engineering Ethics. December 2013.
During the education of scientists at the university level the students become more and more specialized. The specialization of the students is a consequence of the scientific research becoming specialized as well. In the interdisciplinary field of nanoscience the importance of specialization is also emphasized throughout the education. Being an interdisciplinary field of study the specialization in this area is not focused on scientific disciplines, but on the different branches of the research. Historically ethics has not been a priority in science education, however, in recent years the importance of such teachings has been highly recognize especially in medicine, biotechnology and engineering. The rapid development, the many new and unknown areas and the highly specialized focus of nanotechnology suggest the importance of having ethically competent researchers. In this article the importance of ethical competence in nanoscience research is argued for by an example of a dilemma that could occur in a research project. The dilemma is analyzed using two different ethical views, generating two different choices for action. It is seen that the dilemma can have more than one solution and that ethical competence can help in justifying the choice of solution in a specific situation. Furthermore it is suggested that a way to reach this competence is through education in ethics incorporated into the nanoscience education curriculum. Continue reading…

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Ars Technica

Timmer, John. FDA orders personal genetics company 23andMe to stop selling tests. November 25, 2013.
Last Friday, the Food and Drug Administration sent a letter to the most popular personal genomics service, 23andMe, ordering the company to stop selling its genetic testing kits. According to the FDA letter, the company has been advertising that its tests offer diagnostic information for a variety of human conditions, placing them in the category of a "medical device" and thus within the agency's jurisdiction. Accordingly, the FDA has been working with the company since 2009 to get 23andMe's testing approved. Now, the FDA has apparently run out of patience. Continue reading…

Timmer, John. Anti-GMO  crop paper to be forcibly retracted. December 1, 2013.
Last year, a French researcher made waves by announcing a study that suggested genetically modified corn could lead to an increased incidence of tumors in lab animals. But the way the finding was announced seemed designed to generate publicity while avoiding any scientific evaluation of the results. Since then, the scientific criticisms have rolled in, and they have been scathing. Now, the editor of the journal that published it has decided to pull the paper despite the objections of its primary author. Continue reading…

Rathi, Akshat. Aging cells share features with cancer. December 2, 2013.
The older we get, the higher our risk of cancer. With age, we accumulate exposure to environments and chemicals that increase the risk of acquiring cancer-causing mutations. But the danger doesn't increase in a linear manner, and we know little about why there is such a dramatic increase with aging. Continue reading…

Johnson, Scott K. Your questions about the new IPCC climate change report answered. December 4, 2013.
Ars asked for your questions about the recently released final draft of the first section of the new Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report, and you delivered. A number of the questions were about the climate change impacts and mitigation sections that have not yet been released, but we’ll certainly keep those topics in mind when that information comes out next spring. There are also a few questions related to complex topics that we plan to cover in more detail soon. Continue reading…

Timmer, John. US National Research Council wants abrupt climate change warning system. December 5, 2013.
Yesterday, the National Research Council (a branch of the US' National Academies of Science) released a report in which it called for the creation of an early warning system that would let us know when we're approaching tipping points in the climate. Continue reading…

Chicago Tribune

Editorial. Employers could drop health care. November 25, 2013.
Abbott Laboratories chief executive Miles White said something last Tuesday that should jolt tens of millions of Americans who watch from a comfortable distance as the giant Obamacare blimp ignites and tumbles to the ground. These Americans are safely ensconced in employer-provided health care coverage — for now. Continue reading…

Editorial. State moves to oust firm that’s scrubbing Medicaid rolls. December 2, 2013.
A private contractor hired by Illinois has excelled in removing from the state's Medicaid rolls people who didn't qualify for the benefit. The contractor, Virginia-based Maximus Health Services Inc., has recommended over the course of the year that the state scrub about 190,000 people from the Medicaid rolls. That saves money and helps to preserve the vital health coverage for lower-income residents. Continue reading…

Los Angeles Times

Greene, Warner C. AIDS fatigue: a dangerous diagnosis. December 1, 2013.
I saw my first AIDS case in 1981, the year the disease was identified. And for most of the time since then, I've conducted laboratory research to better understand the precise mechanisms by which the virus HIV causes AIDS. Continue reading…

Editorial. Abortion clinics, not battle zones. December 2, 2013.
A Massachusetts law that says "no person" may enter or remain in the 35-foot buffer zones established outside abortion clinics in the state has set off a controversial legal battle about the proper balance between the rights of speakers and the rights of those who must listen to them. Although several federal courts have upheld the law over the last few years, the Supreme Court has now agreed to review it. The high court should uphold it as well.  Continue reading…

McManus, Doyle. What Obama should do if he wants young people to sign up for Obamacare. December 4, 2013.
Will young, healthy people sign up for Obamacare? That may be the single most important question for the success of the new insurance program. If young people sign up, the pool of customers will be relatively healthy and rates may stay reasonable. If they don’t, the pool could include a disproportionate number of sick people running up big bills, leading to potentially crippling rate increases. Continue reading…

New York Times

Annan, Kofi. Climate Crisis: Who Will Act? November 24, 2013.
Geneva — The last-minute deal at the United Nations Climate Conference in Warsaw keeps hopes for a comprehensive successor agreement to the 1997 Kyoto protocol alive. But let us be clear: Much more decisive action will be needed if we are to stand any chance at fending off the dangers of climate change. Continue reading…

Editorial. Another Challenge to the Health Care Law. November 26, 2013.
More than a year after it upheld the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act, the Supreme Court has set the stage for a showdown over the law’s requirement that employer health plans cover birth control. It agreed on Tuesday to hear two cases challenging the mandate, each brought by a secular, profit-making company seeking an exemption on religious grounds. They are among a slew of lawsuits seeking similar exemptions. Lower federal appellate courts have split on the question, creating a need for a decisive ruling from the Supreme Court that rejects the specious religious liberty claims. Continue reading…

Editorial. More Money to Treat AIDS Abroad. November 27, 2013.
At a time when partisan bickering has crippled Congress, it is encouraging to find agreement on the important issue of curbing the global AIDS epidemic. Continue reading…

Editorial. Fast Recovery for Health Care Website. December 2, 2013.
The Obama administration says it had made enormous improvements in its website for enrolling consumers in new health insurance plans. There are still major hurdles to surmount, but the strides made raise the prospects that the website will be able to help millions of Americans buy policies from private insurers on new insurance exchanges, either by Dec. 23, the deadline for policies that will take effect on Jan. 1, or by March 31, the deadline for taking out coverage without being fined. There will be federal subsidies to help those on modest incomes pay the premiums. Continue reading…

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