Yale Institution for Social and Policy Studies

Greetings from Stephen Latham, Bioethics Center Director

I begin with the sad news that Bioethics Center Executive Committee member, surgeon, bioethicist, historian and medical humanist Sherwin Nuland, MD, died this week at the age of 83. You can and should read about his stunning career in this New York Times obituary; and take some time to listen to him telling pieces of his own story on the Web of Stories site. Our friends at the Hastings Center (which he served as a board member) offer a tribute here.  His 1994 book “How We Die: Reflections of Life’s Final Chapter” is a bioethical classic, and his autobiographical “Lost in America: A Journey With My Father” was rightly reviewed as “one of those confessions that heal the soul.” His work as teacher, healer and author touched many lives, and he will be greatly missed. Rest in peace, Shep.

Spring break is upon us, even though spring itself seems not to be. There will be no Friday Newsletter next week or the following. So mark your calendars now: Thaddeus Mason Pope (Law, Hamline) will give two lectures in late March. On March 27, the Medical School’s Program for Biomedical Ethics will hear a lecture on Law and Bioethics, which will focus on medical futility. (Pope regularly blogs on medical futility issues.) On the 28th, he’ll speak at the Law School on recent changes in the law of professional self-regulation in medicine.

On April 3, our Animal Ethics group will host a public lecture by Robert Bass (Philosophy, UNC Pembroke) on “Ignorance and Moral Risk.” Details in our next newsletter.

Those of you who are following Connecticut’s HB 5326, "An Act Concerning Aid in Dying for Terminally Ill Patients," which is currently before the Joint Committee on Public Health, may be interested in having a look at the text of the bill.

Enjoy the break! And send news of anything you’d like to see covered in this newsletter to me at Stephen.Latham@Yale.edu, with the word “Frimail” in your subject-line.
  Updates from the Summer Institute

Campus Events

Conferences & Off Campus Events

Grants, Fellowships & Jobs

Calls for Papers & Nominations

Other Items



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Updates from the Summer Institute

From Associate Director Carol Pollard

*A VERY SAD ANNOUNCEMENT: Sherwin “Shep” Nuland, noted surgeon and author who also lectured in the Summer Institute morning lecture series, passed away this week.  His morning lecture, titled “The Goodness of the Physician,” was one of the high points of our lecture series.  To say he will be missed is an understatement.  He was a very good and wise man who freely gave his time and talent to students at Yale and to our Summer Institute attendees. 

*Sundar Layalu has completed his Masters thesis at Clark University.  (Congratulations Sundar!)

*Andy Sim Gim Hong writes: “I hope that everyone at Yale Bioethics Center is doing well.  There are so many things that have happened, but I shall keep this update short.  Work started quite immediately for me a week after returning to Singapore.  My name was added to several projects in my department even before I my return.  I am grateful that my bosses and colleagues have entrusted me in various leadership positions -- one of which is to coordinate and co-lead a hospital-wide initiative to introduce and integrate advance care planning as part of routine patient care.  This will be one of my main projects for the next two years.  I know that Rachel (Teo) & Theodora (Kwok) have already updated you on the launch of the online casebook, "Making Difficult Decisions with Patients and Families” in Singapore.  Nancy Berlinger from The Hastings Center introduced me to Jacqueline Chin from NUS, and that’s how I became one of the commentary co-authors of the casebook.  It was a great learning experience for me to be part of this project.  Finally (for now), I will be giving an oral presentation of my paper titled, "Building the capacity of hospital social workers to provide palliative care services: A Single Case Study" during the 10th International Conference for Grief & Bereavement (ICGB) in Hong Kong in June 2014.  This presentation is being developed from my original research done for the Yale Summer Bioethics Program in 2012.  I am so thankful for my time at Yale!  =)”  (Congratulations on all that you are accomplishing, Andy!)

*Claire Dennis wrote a lengthy continuing account of her sailing adventures and goal of medaling in the Olympics.  Please click here to follow her story. (Congratulations Claire!)

*Sally Satel, one of our morning lecturers, just sent her latest article on “anxiety.”  (Congratulations Sally!)

Click here for other items I’ve collected for you.


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Upcoming on Campus

Monday, March 24

Schell Center Seminar
Time: 6:10 PM
Location: 127 Wall St, room 128
Speaker: Sarah Thompson, Executive Director, Christian Peacemaker Teams
Topic: Building Partnerships to Transform Violence and Oppression: The Story of Christian Peacemaker Teams

Wednesday, March 26

Rudd Center Seminar
Time: 12:30 PM
Location: 309 Edwards St, conf room
Speaker: Parke E Wilde, PhD, Associate Professor, Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy, Tufts University
Topic: Innovations in SNAP: Merit Goods and Healthy Incentives

Thursday, March 27

Perspectives on Medicine Lecture
Time: 1 PM
Location: 315 Cedar St, room 110
Speaker: Marlene Schwartz, PhD '96, Director, Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity
Topic: Public Policy Approaches to Prevent Childhood Obesity

Pediatric Ethics Lecture
Time: 4:30 PM
Location: 230 S Frontage Rd, Cohen Auditorium
Speaker: Thaddeus Mason Pope, JD, PhD, Director, Health Law Institute; Associate Professor of Law, Hamline University School of Law
Topic: Bioethics and the Law

Friday, March 28

Climate & Energy Workshop
Time: 5 PM
Location: 195 Prospect St, 3rd floor
Topic: The Adoption Gap: Exploring Social Dimensions of Design Development and Diffusion of Household Energy Technologies

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Conferences & Off Campus Events

22nd Annual Florida Ethics Conference in Miami
The University of Miami Ethics Programs will host its 22nd annual spring conference in conjunction with the Florida Bioethics Network on Friday, April 4, 2014 at the Miami Marriott Biscayne Bay, 1633 North Bayshore Drive. This educational program - one of the oldest and largest conferences in the country dedicated to ethics in healthcare - will feature presentations on topics such as recent brain death controversies, military medicine, pediatric health disparities, concussion and sports, the Affordable Care Act, and clinical professionalism in healthcare. The conference is approved for a continuing education credits for Physicians, Nurses, Psychologists, Social Workers, Attorneys and Chaplains. Download the Program. To register, go to www.cme.med.miami.edu.

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Innovators Forum: A Health and Social Entrepreneurship Conference
Presented by Unite For Sight and Sponsored by Harvard Business Innovations in Global Health Care
Friday, March 14, 2014
Shubert Theater, New Haven, Connecticut
Keynote Addresses:  "Managing Uncertainty," Ken Himmelman, Chief Program Officer, Partners In Health; "Is the World Ready for Nonprofit or Pharmaceutical Companies?" Victoria Hale, Founder and CEO, Medicines360; "QuestBridge: One Organization's Journey to Scale," Ana Rowena McCullough, Co-Founder and CEO, QuestBridge
Perspectives on Innovating: "Building a Health Delivery Model for 1 Billion Rural People, Starting with One Remote Village in Liberia," Jason Bae, Director, Last Mile Health; "A New Face of American Diplomacy: Global Health Service Abroad," Vanessa Kerry, Chief Executive Officer, Seed Global Health; "The Developing World's Healthcare Problems are Complicated.  The Solutions Don't Need to Be," David Barash, Executive Director, Global Health Portfolio and Chief Medical Officer, GE Foundation
Key Lessons From Building Innovative, Successful Programs: "Social and Mobile Innovations for Global Health Programs," Bobby Jefferson, Director, Center for Development Informatics, Futures Group; "Contagious Health & Happiness," Leila Makarechi, COO, Microclinic International; "Social Change is a Process, Not a Formula: Practical Lessons from Twenty Years of Success and Failure," Dean Cycon, Founder and CEO, Dean's Beans Organic Coffee Co.
Conversations with Early-Stage Innovators, Global Health Technology Organizations, and Established Organizations: Six Innovators Forum audience members will each present a 5-minute presentation to the Innovators Forum audience about their organization, current and expected impact, current challenges, and questions for the expert speakers. The presenters will then engage in a conversation with the keynote speakers and with Charlie MacCormack, President Emeritus at Save The Children, on the Shubert Theater stage and in front of the conference audience. The expert speakers will answer questions and offer guidance and advice. The entire audience will then have an opportunity to ask questions of the presenters and the expert speakers. In addition to offering a unique opportunity for the six selected presenters, the Innovators Forum audience will gain extensive insight from the expert speakers about navigating the challenges and complexities of real issues being experienced by the innovators in the audience. Complete details and the Innovators Forum schedule can be seen at http://www.uniteforsight.org/forum.

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Grants, Fellowships, & Jobs

The Donaghue Foundation is pleased to announce the offering of a second round of the Another Look: Better Health for Elders in Care Facilities grant program. Another Look will provide funding for health-related research projects that can improve the quality of care and the quality of life for the elderly population in nursing homes or other care facilities. Specifically, this program invites researchers interested in addressing a particular problem affecting the elderly population in care facilities to analyze data that already exist to address their research question.  New data collection will not be allowed in this program. In 2014, the Foundation will invest approximately $450,000 in this grant program.  Our goal is to award up to four two-year projects.  Letters of intent are due by May 12, 2014. This program is open to investigators at tax-exempt institutions in New England, New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania.  Researchers applying for this grant must identify a stakeholder in the care delivery or policy arena with whom they will either consult or collaborate and who is willing to work with the researcher to develop a research product that may be readily used to improve care or quality of life. The full grant announcement is available on Donaghue's website.  For further information about this program, please contact Stacy Cloud by email only at cloud@donaghue.org.

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Director, Master of Arts in Bioethics Program
Emory University Center for Ethics and Laney Graduate School
Open until filled. Review begins on March 31, 2014, and applicants are strongly encouraged to apply earlier. The Center for Ethics at Emory University seeks a bioethics scholar to direct our Master of Arts in Bioethics (MAB) program. Rank and area of specialty are open. The MAB program has grown rapidly from its origins five years ago, and now includes dual degree programs with many Emory schools. The next phase of the program's development will concentrate on attracting scholarships, recruitment of new students, and strengthening existing areas of focus (such as clinical ethics, research ethics, religion and bioethics, and neuroethics) while developing new ones. We are looking for a creative thinker with strong organizational skills. The ideal candidate will have experience teaching bioethics at the graduate or professional level, organizational and leadership experience, and a solid record of bioethics scholarship. Experience helping build or run a Masters-level program in bioethics or related field is a plus. A PhD or professional equivalent in a bioethics-related discipline, or an advanced degree in a related field with training at the masters or fellowship level in bioethics level is required. The Director will teach three courses/year in the MA program, with some teaching in other Emory schools as well. The Director will join the faculty of our prominent Center for Ethics. Center faculty hold appointments in a variety of schools including Emory College, and the Schools of Medicine, Nursing, Public Health, and Law. A primary, non-tenured appointment in a medical school department is anticipated, though a tenured appointment is a possibility for senior candidates. The Emory Center for Ethics is a dynamic Center with 9 onsite and 35 university-wide faculty members, a tradition of research and scholarship, and a range of programming that touches every school at the university and includes multiple collaborative relationships with the community and its institutions. The Center is a general ethics center with a robust bioethics program equal to that of most bioethics centers in the United States. Emory as a university has made a deep and abiding commitment to ethical research, teaching, and faculty development. Throughout Emory's history, the University has maintained the vital importance of ethical thinking and action. The University vision statement characterizes Emory as "an inquiry-driven, ethically engaged, and diverse community" characterized by "courageous leadership." For that reason, the Center for Ethics at Emory, which is organized under the Provost's Office, is a central player in the life of the university and in the decision-making processes of the administration to a degree that is rare in American universities. Candidates should provide a letter of interest, including a description of personal scholarship and a statement of teaching philosophy; a full CV; and the names and contact information of three references to: Jamila Garrett-Bell, Center for Ethics, Emory University, 1531 Dickey Drive, Atlanta, Georgia 30322, or email to jrgarre@emory.edu. Applications received by March 31, 2014 will have priority, and candidates are strongly encouraged to apply earlier, but the search will continue until the position is filled. Inquiries should be directed to Kathy Kinlaw, Center Associate Director, at kkinlaw@emory.edu or Paul Root Wolpe, Center Director, at pwolpe@emory.edu.

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Ethics and Responsible Research and Innovation in Neuro-ICT
Centre for Computing and Social Responsibility,
Faculty of Technology, De Montfort University, Leicester
PhD Studentship available to suitably qualified UK or EU students.  
Deadline: March 21, 2014
A PhD research studentship covering stipend and tuition fee costs is offered within the Faculty of Technology working with an internationally recognised research team. It is available to suitably qualified UK or EU students.
The project will explore ethical questions and concerns in the area of neuro-ICT and investigate principles and practices of responsible innovation in the area. We use the term "neuro-ICT" to cover a range of information technologies that may stimulate, measure, replace or emulate brain functions. Part of the PhD project will be to explore what these different neuro-ICTs have in common and how these commonalities affect ethical issues and problems of responsibility. The PhD will be able to build on and link with a number of research projects in the area, such as EU projects (ETICA, www.etica-project.eu; CONSDIER, www.consider-project.eu) and UK projects (FRRIICT, www.responsible-innovation.org.uk). The PhD will link with two major projects in the area: the Human Brain Project (https://www.humanbrainproject.eu; WP12.4 "Researcher Awareness") and the DREAM project, an EU integrated project focusing on robot-enhanced therapy for children with autism spectrum disorders. The successful applicant will be able to work with internationally leading scholars from a range of disciplines in the underlying projects and will have the opportunity to feed results back into research and development policy and practice. The PhD project will be supervised by Professor Bernd Stahl and Professor Mark Coeckelbergh. For a more detailed description of the studentship project please visit our web site (www.dmu.ac.uk/ccsr) or contact Professor Bernd Stahl on 44 (0)116 2078252 or email bstahl@dmu.ac.uk This research opportunity builds on our excellent past achievements and looking forward to REF2020 and beyond. It will develop the university's research capacity into new and evolving areas of study, enhancing DMU's national and international research partnerships. Applications are invited from UK or EU students with a good first degree (First, 2:1 or equivalent) in a relevant subject.  Doctoral scholarships are available for up to three years full-time study starting October 2013 and provide a bursary of £13,770pa in addition to university tuition fees. Please quote ref:  Scholarships 2014 TECH FB2. CLOSING DATE:  Friday March 21st 2014. More detail on how to apply can be found here: http://www.dmu.ac.uk/research/graduate-school/phd-scholarships.aspx

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Calls for Papers & Nominations

Global Health Governance: Call for Submissions
Deadline: March 30, 2014
Global Health Governance will be publishing a special issue on a proposed Framework Convention on Global Health (FCGH) in December 2014. The proposal for an FCGH would create a new international framework, grounded in the international human right to health, that would support health at the national and global levels. For this FCGH special issue, Global Health Governance invites submission of theoretical and empirical policy research articles that examine and analyze how the FCGH could improve health through improved governance and realization of the right to health. We have particular interest in articles on defining and articulating the underlying normative aspects of the FCGH and the prospects of implementing these norms across global, national, and local levels; global health diplomacy and the process of drafting a Framework Convention; institutional and political implementation concerns; the roles of and relationship between state and non-state actors in the formulation and implementation of the FCGH; the connection between existing norms and institutions and the FCGH; strategies and challenges for integrating the norms of the FCGH into existing global, national, and local institutions; accountability under the FCGH; and strategies and challenges for using the FCGH to reshape or build on existing global, national, and local institutions to advance health equity and realization of the right to health. We welcome diverse perspectives on the FCGH, including articles that are supportive or critical of this proposed Framework Convention, as well as articles that propose innovative or alternative models to address global governance for health. The website for the Joint Action and Learning Initiative on National and Global Responsibilities for Health (JALI): http://www.jalihealth.org/ has more information about the FCGH. Abstracts (up to 400 words) for proposed articles are due March 30, 2014. Articles selected for submission will be due July 31, 2014. This special issue of Global Health Governance will be edited by guest editors Lance Gable (Wayne State University Law School), Benjamin Mason Meier (University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill), Jennifer Prah Ruger (University of Pennsylvania), Robert Marten (Rockefeller Foundation and London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine), and Ames Dhai (Steve Biko Centre for Bioethics, University of Witwatersrand). Editorial correspondence should be addressed to: Lance Gable, Interim Associate Dean and Associate Professor of Law, Wayne State University Law School, 471 W. Palmer Street, Detroit, MI 48202, USA. Phone: 313-577-3973, 313-577-9016 (fax). Email: lancegable@wayne.edu. For more information visit the website.

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2014 Health Law Scholars Workshop
The Center for Health Law Studies, Saint Louis University School of Law and the American Society of Law, Medicine, and Ethics
Deadline: April 7, 2014
The Health Law Scholars Workshop is a collegial forum in which faculty new to health law and bioethics scholarship present works-in-progress and receive in-depth advice from experienced scholars and teachers in the field of health law and bioethics. The workshop encourages health and bioethics scholarship, fosters the professional development of emerging scholars and furthers the sense of community among health law academics. Past scholars have placed their papers for publication in preeminent law journals. Scholars workshop their work-in-progress before a group of experienced peer reviewers and commentators. Each author's work-in-progress accepted for the Health Law Scholars Workshop will be read in advance by several faculty members in relevant fields. During the workshop weekend, each author presents his or her paper to the full group. After extensive oral feedback from the readers, the floor is opened for a sustained exchange between the presenter and full group. Those interested in presenting a health law or bioethics work-in-progress at the Health Law Scholars Workshop should submit a 500-word abstract of the proposed paper together with a resumé to Cheryl Cooper at Saint Louis University School of Law by April 7, 2014. Because a blind selection process is used, please do not include the author's name or institutional affiliation on the abstract. Questions about the submission process should be directed to Prof. Sidney D. Watson at watsons@slu.edu or 314-977-2751. Submissions may be made by mail, fax or email to: Cheryl Cooper, Program Coordinator, Center for Health Law Studies, Saint Louis University School of Law, 100 N. Tucker Blvd., St. Louis, MO 63101-1930. T: 314.977.3067. F: 314.977.3332. E:ccoope22@slu.edu. View the full 2014 Health Law Scholars Workshop Brochure here

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Other Items of Interest

Call for Student Posters for the YCEI Annual Conference
Thursday April 17th, 2014
Burke Auditorium, Kroon Hall 
The Yale Climate and Energy Congress (YCEC) presents the 5th Annual Conference on April 17th, 2014. The 2014 conference will critically examine projections of the world’s energy mix in 2035, and will feature a student poster competition. The YCEI Annual Conference will feature two keynote speakers, including closing remarks by Rajendra Pachauri, as well as two panel discussions and student poster presentations. Three key aspects of the future energy mix will be addressed over the course of the conference:  What are current projections for the world’s energy mix by 2035? How are key sectors and countries expected to evolve over the next 20 years? What are the potentially disruptive policies and technologies that could alter that evolution? This is a call for posters relevant to energy technology, energy policy, renewable energy sources, energy finance, or climate change. Posters will be selected based on the content of the submitted research abstract. If selected, the posters will be judged by faculty members during the conference. The 2014 Annual Conference Poster Award recipient will be announced at the end of the conference. Please email research abstract (250 words or less and no more than one graphic) to zoraya.hightower@yale.edu by March 31st. Final decisions will be made by April 4th, and students will be notified via email. For accepted students, posters can be printed free of charge on Department printers or at TYCO and a template will be made available for poster design. For any questions, please email lauren.sanchez@yale.edu

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Articles of Interest

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In the News

Health and Medicine

McNeil, Donald. Injections providing protection against AIDS in monkeys, studies find. The New York Times. 4 March 2014.
Researchers are reporting that injections of long-lasting AIDS drugs protected monkeys for weeks against infection, a finding that could lead to a major breakthrough in preventing the disease in humans. Two studies by different laboratory groups each found 100 percent protection in monkeys that got monthly injections of antiretroviral drugs, and there was evidence that a single shot every three months might work just as well. Continue reading...

McNeil, Donald. Early treatment is found to clear HIV in a 2nd baby. The New York Times. 5 March 2014.
When scientists made the stunning announcement last year that a baby born with H.I.V. had apparently been cured through aggressive drug treatment just 30 hours after birth, there was immediate skepticism that the child had been infected in the first place. But on Wednesday, the existence of a second such baby was revealed at an AIDS conference here, leaving little doubt that the treatment works. A leading researcher said there might be five more such cases in Canada and three in South Africa. Continue reading...

The Associated Press. House back bill to delay health care penalty. 5 March 2014.
The House on Wednesday backed a one-year delay in the penalty that individuals would have to pay for failing to sign up for health insurance, the 50th time Republicans have forced a vote to repeal, gut or change the law championed by President Barack Obama. Continue reading...

Dembosky, April. Selling health care to California’s Latinos got lost in translation. NPR. 6 March 2014.
It's been decades since the advertising industry recognized the need to woo Hispanic consumers. Big companies saw the market potential and sank millions of dollars into ads. The most basic dos and don'ts of marketing to Latinos in the United States have been understood for years. So when officials started thinking about how to persuade the state's Spanish speakers, who make up nearly 30 percent of California's population, to enroll in health care plans, they should have had a blueprint of what to do. Instead, they made a series of mistakes. Continue reading...

Law and Bioethics

Goodwyn, Wade. Texas abortion restrictions shutter two more clinics. NPR. 6 March 2014.
Several Texas abortion clinics are shutting down Thursday, in part due to restrictions passed by state lawmakers. They join a growing list of clinics that have closed since the law was passed. Continue reading...

Medical Ethics

Palliative chemo patients’ end-of-life wishes overlooked. CBC News. 4 March 2014.
Terminal cancer patients who receive chemotherapy in the last months of their lives are less likely to die where they want and are more likely to undergo highly invasive medical procedures, a study says. A team of researchers from Harvard Medical School, the Weill Cornell Medical College and the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute discovered that only 68 per cent of patients who received palliative chemotherapy — designed to ease symptoms and prolong survival but not to cure — died in the place they wanted. Continue reading...


Schnirring, Lisa. CDC calls out antibiotic prescribing problems. CIDRAP. 4 March 2014.
In a major report today that looked at antibiotic usage, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said some clinicians in similar hospital units prescribe triple the amounts, with some making the types of errors that fuel drug-resistance problems that put many more patients at risk. Continue reading...


Pollack, Andrew. A genetic entrepreneur sets his sights on aging and death. The New York Times. 4 March 2014.
J. Craig Venter is the latest wealthy entrepreneur to think he can cheat aging and death. And he hopes to do so by resorting to his first love: sequencing genomes. On Tuesday, Dr. Venter announced that he was starting a new company, Human Longevity, which will focus on figuring out how people can live longer and healthier lives. To do that, the company will build what Dr. Venter says will be the largest human DNA sequencing operation in the world, capable of processing 40,000 human genomes a year. Continue reading...

Pollack, Andrew. A powerful new way to edit DNA. The New York Times. 3 March 2014.
A new molecular system, known as Crispr, is being used to make genetically engineered laboratory animals more easily than could be done before, with changes in multiple genes. Scientists hope Crispr might also be used for genomic surgery, as it were, to correct errant genes that cause disease. But even as it is stirring excitement, Crispr is raising profound questions. Like other technologies that once wowed scientists — like gene therapy, stem cells and RNA interference — it will undoubtedly encounter setbacks before it can be used to help patients. Continue reading...

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In the Journals

Armstrong, Natalie. Do informed consent documents for cancer trials do what they should? Sociology of Health and Illness. 2012.
Though patient information leaflets (PILs) are provided to those invited to take part in medical research, they usually fall short in facilitating informed decisions about participation. We aimed to explore why there is an enduring requirement for a process that seems not to 'work', and to explain why the problems have proven resistant to correction. We analysed applications for ethical approval for 13 oncology trials and related official guidance. We interviewed 26 patients invited to participate in the trials. Data analysis was based on the constant comparative method. We show that PILs function latently to satisfy purposes other than their manifest function as a decision-facilitating tool. PILs are the outcome of a process of institutional scripting that is strongly shaped by the accountability demands inherent in the ethical review process. This results in the PIL being made to serve purposes both as a prospectus and as a contract. Though PILs have value for some patients, most do not recognise these documents as operating primarily in their interests. Patients make decisions in ways that deviate from official ideals. This analysis is important in recognising that no simple technical fix is available, and in enhancing sociological understanding of the institutional role of documents. Continue reading…

Erickson-Davis, Cordelia. Ethical concerns regarding commercialization of deep brain stimulation for obsessive compulsive disorder. Bioethics. 2012.
The United States Food and Drug Administration's recent approval of the commercial use of Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS) as a treatment for Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) will be discussed within the context of the existing USA regulatory framework. The purpose will be to illustrate the current lack of regulation and oversight of the DBS market, which has resulted in the violation of basic ethical norms. The discussion will focus on: 1) the lack of available evidence on procedural safety and efficacy, 2) the numerous conflicts of interest held by research investigators, and 3) the ambiguity of both aforementioned categories due to an inherent lack of transparency in the research. It is argued that in order to address these issues, ethical analyses of DBS for psychiatric disorders must include the role of the industry forces that have become the primary impetus for this research. As such, DBS for OCD serves as an important case example in studies of neurotechnology and innovative surgery. Continue reading…

Mascia, Katherine. The Bioethics of Providing Cochlear Implants to Children: Informed Choices and Autonomous Decision Making. Journal of the American Deafness and Rehabilitation Association. 2012.
The significant advances in technology and educational options for children who are deaf present a parent with opportunities to make choices on behalf of their child.The variability in overall results for all available options and the long term implications of decisions made early in a child's life make it necessary for parents to utilize an objective process. A framework for ensuring the parent's right to make decisions on behalf of their child will be discussed using five principles of bioethics. Points of controversy regarding the use of cochlear implants as well as the use of American Sign Language (ASL) will be explored. The issue of informed choice is examined and analyzed. Continue reading…

Mello, Michelle. Ethical considerations in studying drug safety: The Institute of Medicine Report. 2012.
The tumult arising from revelations of serious safety risks associated with widely prescribed drugs, including rosiglitazone (Avandia, GlaxoSmithKline), rofecoxib (Vioxx, Merck), and celecoxib (Celebrex, Pfizer), has led to widespread recognition that improvement is needed in our national system of ensuring drug safety. The experience with rosiglitazone and the TIDE trial offers a lesson in how our current approach to the oversight of drug-safety and postmarketing research can fail both the public and the research participants. Reactive policymaking is tempting but problematic. The history of regulation of human subjects research suggests that rules that are "born in scandal and reared in protectionism" often fall short of providing meaningful protections to research participants and that, once adopted, regulations can ossify and become difficult to dislodge. Continue reading…

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Ars Technica

Gitig, Diana. Flu viruses derive from a global selective sweep in the 1870s. March 2, 2014.
Phylogeny inference, or tree building, is used to deduce the history of entities related by common descent, whether they're genes, populations, or species. Ultimately, it can reveal the evolutionary relationships between these entities, even if we don't have access to the intermediate steps. Continue reading…

Cobey, Sarah. Scientists create accurate predictor of the next year’s flu virus. March 3, 2014.
Influenza viruses evolve rapidly, making it hard to develop protective vaccines against them. Despite a great deal of effort, scientists have found it difficult to forecast which way the virus’ evolution would take it. Now, thanks to improvements in our ability to study viruses and a new mathematical model, anticipating influenza’s next move appears possible. Continue reading…

Timmer, John. Variable renewable power can reach 40 percent capacity very cheaply. March 4, 2014.
Most forms of renewable power differ from traditional electricity sources in a key way: they're intermittent. The sun doesn't always shine on photovoltaics, and when it does, it may vary in intensity. Wind speeds also vary across a wide range at many locations. All of which means that the electricity generated by wind and solar will also vary, with large implications for the stability of the grid. Continue reading…

The Economist

Science & Technology. Who pressed the pause button? March 8, 2014.
Between 1998 and 2013, the Earth’s surface temperature rose at a rate of 0.04°C a decade, far slower than the 0.18°C increase in the 1990s. Meanwhile, emissions of carbon dioxide (which would be expected to push temperatures up) rose uninterruptedly. This pause in warming has raised doubts in the public mind about climate change. A few sceptics say flatly that global warming has stopped. Others argue that scientists’ understanding of the climate is so flawed that their judgments about it cannot be accepted with any confidence. A convincing explanation of the pause therefore matters both to a proper understanding of the climate and to the credibility of climate science—and papers published over the past few weeks do their best to provide one. Indeed, they do almost too good a job. If all were correct, the pause would now be explained twice over. Continue reading…

Los Angeles Times

Editorial. Fixing the way Medicare doctors are paid. March 3, 2014.
Republicans and Democrats can't seem to agree on anything related to the 2010 healthcare law, but they may come together soon on a crucial fix to the nation's largest federal healthcare program, Medicare. At issue is the "sustainable growth rate," a mechanism Congress enacted in 1997 to limit Medicare costs. It hasn't; instead, it has simply threatened physicians with ever-larger and more unreasonable cuts in fees, which Congress has routinely waived. Now, the top Republicans and Democrats on three congressional committees have come up with a replacement formula; the only missing piece is a way to pay for it. Although that's a significant issue, it shouldn't stop Congress from adopting the proposal. Continue reading…

New Scientist

Opinion. Society turns to steampunk to fix its climate woes. March 4, 2014.
Poor old Jules Verne. In recent years, the standing of the French science fiction pioneer has slipped below that of fellow author H. G. Wells. Wells's science tends to be wackier than Verne's. For example, in The First Men in the Moon, people get there thanks to a metal that blocks gravity, whereas Verne's explorers in From the Earth to the Moon blast into space from a giant gun. Continue reading…

Katia Opinion. When is an artificial ecosystem no longer fake? March 5, 2014.
Rewilding is all the rage in conservation circles. The idea is to return large areas of land to their natural state, rebuilding ecosystems and reintroducing species that have long since vanished. That includes those animals exterminated because they were inimical to the interests of human settlers or farmers, notably large predators like wolves and bears. Continue reading…


Palmer, Brian. Get Ready for the Next Big Medical Fight. February 27, 2014.
Sensory processing disorder is one of those peculiarly modern diseases caught in the purgatory between legitimacy and quackery. It’s widely accepted that some children have difficulty handling external stimuli. Kids diagnosed with autism and ADHD have trouble managing sensory experiences that others deal with easily. They cover their ears on the playground, for example, or complain that their clothing is intolerably scratchy. That much is uncontroversial. In the 1970s, however, a UCLA psychologist claimed that sensory processing failure is not merely a symptom of other disorders but is more often a freestanding disease with its own neurologic basis. After 40 years of debate, we still don’t know whether she was right. Continue reading...

Haelle, Tara. No More Formaldehyde Baby Shampoo. March 3, 2014.
It happens to me, too. When the word comes up out of context, I think first of dead things. The frogs and fetal pigs I dissected in seventh grade, open-casket funeral viewings … the word formaldehyde quickly conjures up eerie images. Continue reading...

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