Greetings from Stephen Latham, Director

Spring break is ending, though the snow seems not to be—so welcome back! We have a rush of events to mark for early April!

First, on April 2, ISPS will host a noontime discussion on the Future of Medicare.  Panelists will include David Brooks of The New York Times, Zack Cooper of Yale Public Health, ISPS Director Jacob Hacker, and former Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Director Thomas Scully. Sarah Kliff of The Washington Post will moderate.

On April 4, we’ll have an Animal Ethics Forum co-sponsored with the Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity at 4:15 at the Rudd Center. John Rossi, VMD (Public Health, Drexel) will speak on “How Should We Eat? Food choices and our obligations to the public's health.”

Next, on April 9, we have a special event on Alzheimer’s and Advance Directives, cosponsored with the Program on Biomedical Ethics at the School of Medicine. Bioethicist Bonnie Steinbock (Philosophy, Albany) will speak on “Alzheimer’s, Advance Directives and Physician Aid-in-Dying;” bioethicist Paul Menzel (Philosophy, Pacific Lutheran) will speak on “Advance Directives, Severe Dementia and Withholding Food Assistance,” and Dr. Jane Givens (Harvard Medical School and Hebrew SeniorLife) will speak on “End of Life Care in Advanced Dementia.” Dinner will be served, and there’ll be a chance for open discussion with the speakers. RSVP to  

 Finally, our Technology and Ethics group will have its first of two upcoming speakers on Geoengineering on April 10 at 4:15 in ISPS. The speaker will be David Keith (Applied Physics and Public Policy, Harvard).

 Details are in the links above and will also appear in next week’s newsletter.

 Send anything you’d like to see mentioned in this newsletter to me at, 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

*Please click here to see the listing of the 2013 Summer Bioethics Institute students!  Former students are welcome to join us for the end-of-term Banquet on July 26th!  The Banquet will take place in the Peabody Museum Dinosaur Room (what a fitting place, no?).  Attendees will be allowed in to several of the Museum’s offerings as well.

*Anjali Hari is now a first year medical student at the University of California/Irvine.  “We had an ethics class, and a lot of what we learned reminded me of discussions we had during my summer at Yale.  I’m really interested in surgery and international medicine.  I’m going to Tanzania this summer to work on an ultrasound project and am really looking forward to it.”  (Congratulations Anjali and Good Luck!)

*Congratulations to Ruth Retassie who has been writing a series of articles for BioNews, an e-publication out of the UK.  Her latest article  is titled “Ireland: Genetic Mother Wins Surrogacy Case,” (March 11, 2013, BioNews 696).  “I've been writing for them for a little over a year now.”  Ruth is studying for an MA in the History and Philosophy of Science and Medicine at Durham University (UK).  Her research focuses on the history of neonatal male circumcision in the US.  To view her full bio and list of past BioNews articles, please click here.

*Congratulations to past Summer Program attendee and seminar leader Steve Campbell who is to be married in June.  Steve will be back teaching with us in July.  His seminar title is “A Philosophical Introduction to Ethical Theory.”

*Congratulations to past Summer Program attendee and lecturer James Fleming who got engaged this past week!  James is finishing up his Residency in Neurology at Vanderbilt University and will be moving on to a “real job” in June!

*Congratulations to Emily Ann O'Neill on the birth of her son Sawyer Alexander Lalka!  Her daughter Sophia now has a little brother!

*Congratulations to past Summer Program Lecturer Sally Satel on the publication of her latest (excellent) article “A PTSD Knighthood, and Narrative” on Simon Wessely, esteemed British psychiatrist and researcher – now Sir Simon.  Sally will be joining us again this summer as a visiting Lecturer in our seminar on transplantation.  For the article, click here.

*Alma Massaro writes “I want to share such wonderful news with you: I'll give a lecture next week at the Università Cattolica, which is one the most prestigious Italian university.  I'll talk on animals and religion  -- so good! “  (Congratulations Alma!  What a great topic for you!)

*Sydney Axson writes “I did in fact graduate with my MPH from the University of Pennsylvania, and my final project was on informed consent.   I collected consent documents over 30 years from UPenn and tracked the changes.  Informed consent forms used to be short and understandable.  But as research advances and risks get higher, they have become a bit of a hurdle.  The document seems to be so far from its original goal that it is more of a legal document than a human protection one.  I really hope I can come visit one of these days.  Perhaps sometime in the summer when I am transitioning between apartments.   Right now I am taking anatomy and physiology and working at UPenn's Nursing School.  In these next few months I will be applying to PhD programs.   They are keeping me busy at work, but so far I am loving physiology.  It is really cool to know how things work!  It is amazing all the work the human body can do.  The most exciting part about it all is I really think this summer will be the last time I have to fill out applications for school, YES!”   (GOOD LUCK Sydney!)

*Yale-Hastings Scholar and former summer student Zohar Lederman is on a roll -- AGAIN!  He writes “See the acceptance letter from the Journal of Medical Ethics.  The paper has ‘Yale Bioethics Center’ written all over it.  The Center brought Mirko Garasic, Michelle Piperberg and me together, and it was here that we were introduced to Dan Sulmasy’s work.  We have acknowledged Steve Campbell who also gave us some excellent advice. (Congratulations to ALL of you!  Mirko was a Yale/Hastings Scholar; Michelle is a past summer student and Bioethics Center Visiting Scholar; and Steve is a past summer student and present afternoon seminar leader – for the second time!)  The title of the paper is “Family Presence during Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation – who Should Decide?”

*Look for information below about the Tenth Annual UNITE FOR SIGHT Conference at Yale University April 13 – 15. So many good national and international presenters!


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This Week on Campus

Tuesday, March 26

Rudd Center Seminar
Time: 12:30 PM
Location: 309 Edwards St, conf room
Speakers: Glenn E. Schneider, MPH, Chief Program Officer, The Horizon Foundation
                  Nikki Highsmith Vernick, MPA, President and CEO, The Horizon Foundation
Topic: Unsweetened: Can a Focused, Outcomes-Based, Sugary Drink Campaign Reduce Childhood Obesity?

School of Forestry Lecture
Time: 4:30 PM
Location: 195 Prospect St, room 319
Speaker: Heidi Binko, Associate Director of Special Climate Initiatives, Rockefeller Family Fund
Topic: Addressing Climate Change Without Talking About Climate Change - Campaign Development

Wednesday, March 27

School of Forestry Lecture
Time: 12 PM
Location: 195 Prospect St, Burke Auditorium
Speaker: Michael K. Dorsey, Visiting Fellow; Professor of Environmental Studies, Wesleyan University’s College of the Environment
Topic: Elite Climate Policy and Finance after Doha: Catastrophic Consequences and Continued Marginalized Resistance

Business & the Environment Lecture
Time: 4 PM
Location: 195 Prospect St, Burke Auditorium
Speaker: Auden Schendler, VP of Sustainability at Aspen Skiing Company
Topic: Great Fear, Great Hope: Meaningful Action in a Climate Changed World

Environmental Economics Seminar
Time: 4 PM
Location: 195 Prospect St, room 321
Speaker: Arthur van Benthem, UPenn Wharton
Topic: Do We Need Speed Limits on Freeways?

Schell Center Lecture
Time: 4:10 PM
Location: 127 Wall St, room 127
Speaker: John Prendergast, Co-founder, Enough
Topic: Making Peace in Two of the World's Deadliest Wars: Sudan and Congo

Environmental Law & Policy/Climate & Energy Lecture
Time: 6:10 PM
Location: 127 Wall St, room 127
Speaker: Daniel Yergin, Pulitzer-Prize winning author
Topic: The Quest: Energy, Security, and the Remaking of the Modern World

Schell Center Lecture
Time: 6:10 PM
Location: 127 Wall St, room 129
Speakers: Sarah Belal, Founder and Director, Justice Project Pakistan
                 Matthew Fay, Head of Strategic Litigation, Justice Project Pakistan
Topic: Litigating Human Rights in Pakistan: Torture, Death Row, and Indefinite Detention

Thursday, March 28

Time: 12 PM
Location: 60 College St, Winslow Auditorium
Speaker: RADM Kenneth G. Castro, M.D., Director, Division of Tuberculosis Elimination, National Center for HIV, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and TB Prevention (NCHHSTP), U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC); co-Chair, U.S. Federal Tuberculosis Task Force
Topic: Challenges to TB Elimination in the United States

Human Rights Workshop
Time: 4:15 PM
Location: 127 Wall St, Faculty Lounge
Speaker: Alejandro Madrazo, LLM '03, JSD '06, Professor and Coordinator, Right to Health Program, Centro de Investigacion y Docencia Economicas (CIDE), Mexico, and Visiting Professor of Law Georgetown Law Center
Topic: Prenatal Personhood -- Its Strategic Importance in Abortion Law

Humanities in Medicine's Multicultural Lecture
Time: 5 PM
Location: 230 S Frontage Rd, Cohen Auditorium
Speaker: Alita Anderson, MD, Author and Performance Artist
Topic: Conversations with Caregivers to Future Caregivers

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Conferences & Off Campus Events

Global Health & Innovation Conference at Yale!  The Global Health & Innovation Conference is the world's largest global health conference and social entrepreneurship conference.  This must-attend, thought-leading conference annually convenes more than 2,200 leaders, changemakers, students, and professionals from all fields of global health, international development, and social entrepreneurship. Presented by Unite For Sight, 10th Annual Conference Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut, USA Saturday, April 13 - Sunday, April 14, 2013.

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Universal Coverage in Developing Country Health Systems: Ethical Dilemmas, Thursday and Friday, April 18-19, 2013 at Harvard Medical School. The Petrie-Flom Center is proud to co-sponsor this year's Harvard University Program in Ethics and Health Annual Conference. Registration is required.  Please visit the conference website to register and for more information. 

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After the Storm: New Directions in Health Policy and Law, Friday, April 19, 2013 at Northeastern University School of Law. Join us for a day of informative discussion and exploration with some of the nation's leading policymakers and researchers in health policy and law. Engage in conversations that examine the new directions for health policy and law, regionally, nationally and globally in the wake of the tumultuous events of 2012, including the Supreme Court's ACA decision and the US Presidential Election. Visit the conference website for agenda and registration information.

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The 3rd Annual Responsible Conduct of Research Conference at Texas Tech University, April 22, 2013, 9:00 am – 3:00 pm. The Texas Tech University Ethics Center ( would like to announce that registration is now open for the Third Annual Responsible Conduct of Research Conference at Texas Tech University ( The conference will be Monday, April 22, 2013 from 9:00 am until 3:00 pm at The Museum of Texas Tech University. Topics Include: Research with Vulnerable Populations; Data Management & Image Manipulation; Lab Safety; Replication of Data; Ethical Conduct of Research.  The keynote speaker will be Dr. Stephanie J. Bird, a laboratory-trained neuroscientist whose graduate work at Yale and post-doctoral fellowships at Johns Hopkins and Case Western Reserve University dealt with the effects of psychoactive substances on brain function. Dr. Bird served as the Special Assistant to the Provost and Vice President for Research at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) from 1992 to 2003.

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The Affordable Care Act: Implications for Connecticut: Friday, April 26, 2013 from 9:30 a.m. - 4:15 p.m. (lunch provided) at Mather Hall, Trinity College.  The conference will be beneficial for clinical health providers, officials of public agencies, health insurance providers, health care advocacy organizations, business owners/executives, and educators. Speakers will be Lt. Governor Nancy Wyman, James F. Jones, Jr., president of Trinity College, and Dr. Theodore Marmor, Yale University (keynote address): "The Affordable Care Act: Separating Fact From Fiction". Dr. Marmor has also served as a consultant to various government agencies in the U.S. and abroad. His latest book, co-authored with Rudolf Klein, is Politics, Health, and Health Care: Selected Essays (New Haven: Yale Univ. Press, 2012). In addition, there will be breakout sessions on the following topics: Health Information Technology (HIT): Implications for Clinical Practice and Efficiency; Achieving Health Equity in Health Care Reform; Small Business and Health Care Reform; The Connecticut Health Exchange: Benefits and Challenges.  Click here to register for the conference. Cost: $25 per person (waived for not-for-profit organizations).

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The Petrie-Flom Center for Health Law Policy, Biotechnology, and Bioethics at Harvard Law School invites you to attend our annual conference, this year entitled: "The Food and Drug Administration in the 21st Century." The event will take place Friday and Saturday, May 3-4, 2013, at Harvard Law School in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Attendance is free and open to the public.  Registration required (see below); space is limited.  Questions:; 617.496-4662. The Food and Drug Administration, the US government's oldest comprehensive consumer protection agency, bears the monumental task of safeguarding the public health through regulation of food, drugs and biologics, devices, cosmetics, animal products, radiation-emitting products, and now, tobacco. The agency faces a number of perennial issues related to funding, relationships with industry, and striking the proper balance between consumer choice and consumer protection. It also faces several modern challenges related to globalization, novel technologies, newly added responsibilities, and changing threats to the public health. How is the agency faring in the 21st century? What are the greatest challenges to the FDA's success, and what does success look like? What lessons has it learned and how can it best meet the challenges of today? Should we keep the agency we have, pull it apart, or rebuild from scratch?   This conference will gather leading experts from academia, government, and private industry to evaluate the FDA based on these and other questions, and to begin charting a course for the agency's future. For the full conference agenda, including speakers, presentation titles, and specific times, please click here. Register now!

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The Academy for Professionalism in Health Care invites you to participate in its 1st Annual Meeting: Building a Foundation Toward Medical Professionalism: The Role of Humanities and Ethics in Health Care Education,  May 3rd and 4th, 2013 in Chicago, IL. The Academy for Professionalism in Health Care (APHC) aims to serve patients’ best interests by advancing accountable educational programs, policies, and methodologies that help current and future health care providers provide care consistent with the highest ethical and professional standards. Please join us at our first annual meeting to help take the first steps toward achieving this important goal. As a new organization, the APHC is still in the process of determining how we will go about pursuing this aim.  What should our top priorities be? Which questions should we focus on first? What research projects are our members most interested in pursuing? The first APHC annual meeting will be an opportunity for its members and potential members to explore these questions and thereby shape the future of the Academy. This conference will be a working meeting at which participants will consider how educators in the health humanities and health care ethics (and, through them, the APHC) can further the aim of serving patients’ best interests.  We are encouraging submissions of your work in education to present and discuss at the conference. We are looking for engaged and passionate participants who are interested in sharing information and in finding opportunities to collaborate on innovative initiatives. These participants will work with each other and with the Academy to develop educational programs that have been demonstrated to enhance the humanistic attitudes and ethical behaviors of exemplary health care providers.  We hope you will be one of these innovators! Here is our website:

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Teaching Research Ethics, Nineteenth Annual Workshop, May 14-17, 2013, at the Poynter Center for the Study of Ethics and American Institutions.  The Poynter Center for the Study of Ethics and American Institutions will host the annual Teaching Research Ethics Workshop at the Indiana Memorial Union on the campus of Indiana University Bloomington, May 14-17, 2013. Session topics will include: An Overview of Ethical Theory; Trainee and Authorship Issues; Conflicts of Interest; Using Human Subjects in Clinical and Non-Clinical Research; Responsible Data Management. Many sessions will feature techniques for teaching and assessing the responsible conduct of research. In addition to plenary sessions, each participant selects an intensive track to meet with the same group twice and two breakout sessions. Information & registration are available at

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Issues and Case Studies in Clinical Trial Data Sharing: Lessons and Solutions, Friday, May 17, 2013 from 8:00am-5:00pm in Wasserstein Hall, Milstein West A, Harvard Law School. Co-sponsored by the Multi-Regional Clinical Trial Center at Harvard University, and the Petrie-Flom Center for Health Law Policy, Biotechnology, and Bioethics at Harvard Law School. Registration and additional information is now available on the conference website.

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The Three Zeros of Eliminating HIV/AIDS: Global Science and Policy, Friday, May 17, 8:30 p.m.-4:30 p.m., The New York Academy of Sciences, 7 World Trade Center, 40th Fl, 250 Greenwich Street, New York, NY. The UNAIDS "three zeros" strategy urges that we take a global approach in our efforts toward zero new HIV infections, zero AIDS-related deaths and zero discrimination, and provides a clear vision for future HIV / AIDS research and policy. This one-day symposium will present view points from a range of key opinion leaders discussing their approach to improve communication and collaboration on a global scale.
Registration and details

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Grants, Fellowships, & Jobs

EPA's Office of the Science Advisor (OSA), Office of Research and Development (ORD) seeks Human Subjects Research Review Official.  The incumbent, in Washington, DC, is the Agency's focal point for providing guidance and leadership, and who serves as the expert technical resource to EPA in matters related to human research ethics and human subjects protection. The HSRRO provides strategic vision and leadership for a scientific program whose results serve as a basis for informing Agency decisions in areas related to human subjects research. We are looking for an experienced leader and counselor in the ethics of human subjects research and human subjects protection, who can guide the EPA in assuring compliance with all standards and regulations in this area. This person should have experience in an organization that does research with human subjects, and has a close familiarity with the legal, ethical, and cultural values associated with human subjects research. This person would also be an experienced counselor, helping agency scientists and managers understand the consequences, ramifications, and requirements of human subjects research. Applicant should have a degree in biology, medicine, epidemiology, toxicology, environmental health, public health, human ethics, industrial hygiene or a reliable scientific discipline from a university or college. Find out more information at: How to Apply: Applicants should submit a curriculum vitae via e-mail to Applications must be received by April 11, 2013, to be considered. Electronic submission of application materials is required. Applications sent via e-mail must be submitted in a readable format, such as MS Word, portable document format (PDF), rich text format (RTF), or plain text. Use of other formats may invalidate your application. For additional information please contact Ms. Robin Clarke on (202) 564-6493.

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Another Look: Better Health for Elders in Care Facilities 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 Donaghue Foundation 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 2013, 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 10, 2013. This program is open to investigators at tax-exempt institutions in New England and New York.  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

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Applying Behavioral Economics to Perplexing Problems in Health and Healthcare is a partnership of the Donaghue Foundation and The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to fund approximately five awards of up to $200,000 for projects that will last up to two years each.  Through this funding opportunity, RWJF and Donaghue are particularly interested in research proposals that test innovative solutions to the challenge of reducing the use of low-value services in health care and for which academic teams collaborate with an outside organization, corporation, or partner that has a population or infrastructure that can be used to test pioneering and promising behavioral economic approaches.  This funding is intended to support initiatives that have real potential of being used by these organizations if they prove to be effective. The call for proposals for this grant program was released on March 1, 2013 and will close on April 17, 2013.  If you are interested in learning more, please visit RWJF website.  You can also contact or call the Donaghue office. 

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Calls for Papers & Nominations

The Journal of Philosophy, Science, and Law: Responsible Conduct of Research
Within the context of a shifting research environment, the Journal of Philosophy, Science, and Law is inviting authors to submit new manuscripts that address the responsible conduct of research (RCR). Scientific research is conducted in a significantly different environment than it was 20 – or even 10 – years ago. Among the most notable changes are: new technologies that both yield highly novel results and decrease the transparency of the methods used; the increased pressure on academic researchers to secure intellectual property rights to their research; and interdisciplinary research efforts that are conducted collaboratively across the globe. These changes raise new challenges and questions about modern research practices.  Topics suitable for this Call for Papers include but are not limited to:
• How technology contributes to the occurrence, or detection, of research misconduct.
• Whether the incidence of falsification, fabrication, and plagiarism or other problematic research practices is increasing.
• Whether contemporary peer review processes are adequate for assessing journal submissions or whether alternative methods should be used (e.g., open peer review).
• How RCR policies from federal agencies, including those ones from NSF and NIH, are affecting research practices.
• How federal regulations, including those from the U.S. Public Health Service relating to fCOI, are affecting research communities.
• Whether recent community RCR guidelines, such as the Singapore Statement, adequately address the challenges emerging from a highly interdisciplinary and international research environment.

Manuscripts submitted for inclusion in this special issue must be original work and should not be under consideration with any other journal. The word count for submitted manuscripts, including references and notes, should not exceed 5000 words.  Manuscripts should be accompanied by an abstract of no more than 200 words.  Authors should adhere as closely as possible to the Journal’s publication guidelines: Authors should submit their manuscripts and abstracts via email attachments no later than August 1, 2013 to Dr. Levi Wood: LBWOOD(at)PARTNERS(dot)ORG. The email subject line should read JPSL-RCR. Accepted manuscripts will be published online in December 2013/January 2014.

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Other Items of Interest

From the Center for Humans and Nature: New this week—the first video from our Questions for a Resilient Future series: How can we create a successful economy without continuous economic growth? We invite you to spend 12 minutes with Dr. Peter Victor as he addresses this timely question.  Peter Victor, a professor at York University, has spent the last 40 years exploring ideas at the intersection of economics and ecology.  

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4 Day Intensive Course in Bioethics Consultation Skills: The bioethics consultation service at Montefiore Medical Center and Albert Einstein College of Medicine began more than thirty-five years ago, one of the first such programs in the country and now among the largest and most respected.  We remain at the forefront of clinical bioethics practice and teaching. This four-day intensive will cover topics from ASBH’s Core Competencies for Health Care Ethics Consultation and will use a variety of educational methods, including video-taped role-playing, case analysis, intensive individual feedback and written assignments. This course will help students develop communication skills, master the process of bioethics consultation, and gain practical experience in approaching ethical dilemmas. This course is ideal for health and legal professionals who do ethics consultation, serve on ethics committees and/or want to learn how principles of ethics consultation can enhance their work. Prerequisite: The Montefiore-Einstein Certificate Program in Bioethics and Medical Humanities, or permission of instructor. Credit and Tuition: This course may be taken independently or for 2 academic credits toward the MBE degree. Tuition is $2,250. Dates: May 13 and 14, June 3 and 4.  Location: Clinical Skills Center, Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Bronx, NY.  Instructors: Hannah I. Lipman, MD MS; Tia Powell, MD; Elizabeth Kitsis, MD MBE; Patrick D. Herron, MBE; Catherine Cahill, RN, MS.  For more information or to apply, visit our website

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Articles of Interest

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In the News

Featured Article

Gallagher, Ryan. Drones For Peace: The Unmanned Spy Planes That Target Animal Abusers. Slate. 19 March 2013.
Covert “targeting killings” and police surveillance are the two things most commonly associated with drones. But unmanned aircraft are increasingly being used for an altogether different purpose—to crack down on wildlife crimes across the world, from England to Africa. Continue reading…


Charles, Dan. In a Grain of Golden Rice, A World of Controversy Over GMO Foods. NPR. 7 March 2013.
There's a kind of rice growing in some test plots in the Philippines that's unlike any rice ever seen before. It's yellow. Its backers call it "golden rice." It's been genetically modified so that it contains beta-carotene, the source of vitamin A. Millions of people in Asia and Africa don't get enough of this vital nutrient, so this rice has become the symbol of an idea: that genetically engineered crops can be a tool to improve the lives of the poor. Continue reading…

Strom, Stephanie. Major Grocer to label Foods With Gene-Modified Content. New York Times. 11 March 2013.
Whole Foods Market, the grocery chain, on Friday became the first retailer in the United States to require labeling of all genetically modified foods sold in its stores, a move that some experts said could radically alter the food industry. Continue reading…

Health Care 

Hellerman, Caleb. Mothers Fight to Pass Ava’s Law for Autism Coverage. CNN. 12 March 2013.
If passed, Ava's Law would require insurance companies to pay for "evidence-driven treatment" -- or treatment that's been scientifically shown to help kids with an autism spectrum disorder. The law would not affect the self-insured plans offered by bigger companies, which cover about 60% of insured people in the state, according to the Georgia Office of Insurance. Continue reading…

Andrews, Michelle. When it Comes to Health Care, Patients Don’t Want to Weigh Costs. NPR. 12 March 2013.
People willingly drive across town to save 50 cents on a carton of milk. But when it comes to health care, they don't want to think about how much it costs, and they don't want their doctors to think about it either, according to a recent study in the journal Health Affairs. That's not good news for those who hope to nudge people into being more cost-conscious health care consumers.Continue reading…

Law and Bioethics

Singer, Natasha and Peter Lattman. Is the Seller to Blame? Slate. 15 March 2013.
Michael Lee Sparling, was a 22-year-old Army private when he died. But he wasn’t killed by a roadside bomb or an ambush in Afghanistan. Private Sparling had recently graduated from basic training and was in excellent physical condition. Before the exercise, he had taken the recommended dose of a workout supplement called Jack3d, bought at a GNC store on the base, according to legal filings. Continue reading…

Godoy, Maria. Judge Overturns New York City Ban On Big Sugary Sodas. NPR. 11 March 2013.
A New York state judge has knocked down New York City's landmark new ban on big, sugary drinks, just one day before it was set to take effect. Calling them "arbitrary and capricious," state Supreme Court Justice Milton Tingling on Monday invalidated regulations that would have banned New York City restaurants, movie theaters and other food service establishments from serving sugary drinks in sizes bigger than 16 ounces. The ban would have covered not just sodas but a wide array of other sugar-sweetened drinks, from smoothies to coffee. Continue reading…

Beckholm, Erik. Arkansas’s Ban and One Man’s Strong Will. New York Times. 11 March 2013.
The adoption by Arkansas last week of the country’s strictest abortion ban — at 12 weeks of pregnancy, when a fetal heartbeat is typically detected — gave a new jolt of energy to a loose band of abortion foes who are pushing similar measures in several states. Fetal heartbeat laws are already under consideration by legislatures in Ohio, Kansas and North Dakota, and have a good chance of passage in the coming year, their proponents believe, even though legal experts say they have little chance of surviving in federal courts. Continue reading…

Public Health

Ohlheiser, Abby. Why Are Parents Increasingly Fearful of the HPV Vaccine Even Though It’s Safe? Slate. 18 March 2013.
American parents are increasingly citing safety concerns in their decision not to vaccinate teenage daughters against HPV. That's problematic: The three-shot vaccination hasn't been linked to any serious side effects. So what's going on?
The study, released Monday in Pediatrics, looks at vaccination rates among American teenagers for a handful of illnesses, including HPV. Continue reading…

Bellafante, Ginia. In Obesity Epidemic, Poverty Is an Ignored Contagion. New York Times. 16 March 2013.
The larger issue — larger than the matter of how much more time we should spend trying to ensure that no child ever grows up with a memory of a 32-ounce Sprite — is the recognition of poverty itself as a public health problem. The poor are more likely to live with asthma, depression, gun violence and pests (and the chemical pesticides used to eliminate them). The articulated goal should not simply be to create a population of poor people who are thin, but to create a population of poor people who are less poor. Continue reading…

Bakalar, Nicholas. Breast-Feeding May Not Lead to Leaner Children. New York Times. 14 March 2013. 
Breast-feeding is widely encouraged for its many positive health effects, but the claim that it reduces the risk for childhood obesity may be going too far. A randomized trial has found that even long-term exclusive breast feeding has no effect on obesity or stature in childhood. Continue reading…

Silverstein, Jason. How Racism Is Bad for Our Bodies. The Atlantic. 12 March 2013.
Racial profiling is not only a danger to a person's legal rights, which guarantee equal protection under the law. It is also a danger to their health. A growing literature shows discrimination raises the risk of many emotional and physical problems. Discrimination has been shown to increase the risk of stress, depression, the common cold, hypertension, cardiovascular disease, breast cancer, and mortality. Continue reading…


Winslow, Ron. A Plan to Chart Heart Risk in 1 Million Adults in Real Time. Wall Street Journal. 18 March 2013.
Researchers are launching a major study that will marshal the power of smartphones and other personal technologies in an effort to develop new strategies for preventing and managing heart disease. The project, called the Health eHeart Study, will use tools such as smartphone apps, sensors and other devices to gather data on a wide variety of measures associated with cardiovascular health—including blood pressure, physical activity, diet and sleep habits—all in real time. Continue reading…

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In the Journals

The Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues has issued a new report entitled Safeguarding Children:  Pediatric Medical Countermeasure Research.  The report is at

Block, Andrew. Presurgical psychological screening: Understanding patients, improving outcomes. American Psychologial Association. 2013.
The success of many surgical procedures depends not only on the skill of the surgeon and the use of state-of-the-art technology, but also on the actions and characteristics of the patient. Patients' emotional and psychosocial concerns, health-related behaviors, outcome expectations, and compliance with treatment regimen can all strongly influence the ultimate effectiveness of surgery. Thus, mental health professionals are increasingly called upon to perform presurgical psychological screening (PPS) to ensure that patients are given the treatments most likely to be effective, while reducing the chances of worsening their conditions. Each chapter in this book examines psychosocial influences on surgery for a specific medical condition. In general, the earlier chapters represent those areas in which PPS is already in common use: organ transplantation, spinal surgery, bariatric surgery, and pain control procedures. Conditions in which PPS is being used with increasing frequency represent the next group of chapters: stem cell and bone marrow implantation, deep-brain stimulation for Parkinson’s disease, surgery for temporomandibular joint disorder, reconstructive surgery, breast surgery, and gynecologic surgery. The final chapters examine conditions for which PPS is beginning to be used but has not come into wide acceptance: carpal tunnel syndrome and cosmetic surgery. Drawing on both research and clinical experience, the authors explain how to conduct PPS, communicate results to patients and surgeons, and identify possible pre- or postsurgery interventions to mitigate risk factors and maximize the likelihood of surgical success. Case studies and a discussion of bioethics are included. The Afterword suggests future directions for the field. Continue reading…

DembiƄska, Aleksandra. Bioethical dilemmas of assisted reproduction in the opinions of Polish women in infertility treatment: a research report. Journal of Medical Ethics. September 2012.
Infertility Accepted treatment is replete with bioethical dilemmas regarding the limits of available medical therapies. Poland has no legal acts regulating the ethical problems associated with infertility treatment and work on such legislation has been in progress for a long time, arousing very intense emotions in Polish society. The purpose of the present study was to find out what Polish women undergoing infertility treatment think about the most disputable and controversial bioethical problems of assisted reproduction. An Attitudes towards Bioethical Problems of Infertility Scale was constructed specifically for this study. Items were taken from the Bioethics Bills currently under discussion in Polish Parliament (Seym). 312 women were enrolled in the study. Women experiencing infertility favoured more liberal legislation. Participants disagreed, for example, with the following regulations: prohibition of embryo freezing, prohibition of preimplantation genetic diagnosis of embryos, age limits for women using in vitro fertilisation and prohibition of in vitro fertilisation for single women. The opinions of patients undergoing infertility treatment are an important voice in the Polish debate on the Bioethics Bills. Continue reading…

Grol-Prokopczyk, Hanna. Thai and American doctors on medical ethics: Religion, regulation, and moral reasoning across borders. Social Science and Medicine. January 2013.
Recent scholarship argues that successful international medical collaboration depends crucially on improving cross-cultural understanding. To this end, this study analyzes recent writings on medical ethics by physicians in two countries actively participating in global medicine, Thailand and the United States. Articles (133; published 2004–2008) from JAMA, the New England Journal of Medicine, and the Journal of the Medical Association of Thailand are analyzed to inductively build a portrait of two discursive ethical cultures. Frameworks of moral reasoning are identified across and within the two groups, with a focus on what authority (religion, law, etc.) is invoked to define and evaluate ethical problems. How might similarities and differences in ethical paradigms reflect the countries' historical “semicolonial” relationship, shed light on debates about Eastern vs. Western bioethics, and facilitate or hinder contemporary cross-national communication? Findings demonstrate substantial overlap in Thai and American doctors' vocabulary, points of reference, and topics covered, though only Thai doctors emphasize national interests and identity. American authors display a striking homogeneity in styles of moral reasoning, embracing a secular, legalistic, deontological ethics that generally eschews discussion of religion, personal character, or national culture. Among Thai authors, there is a schism in ethical styles: while some hew closely to the secular, deontological model, others embrace a virtue ethics that liberally cites Buddhist principles and emphasizes the role of doctors' good character. These two approaches may represent opposing reactions—assimilation and resistance, respectively—to Western influence. The current findings undermine the stereotype of Western individualism versus Eastern collectivism. Implications for cross-national dialog are discussed. Continue reading…

Philpott, Sean. Social Justice, Public Health Ethics, and the Use of HIV Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis. American Journal of Preventive Medicine. January 2013.
Recent large-scale clinical trials in the U.S., Latin America, Africa, and Asia have demonstrated the effectiveness of pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), which is the use of HIV treatment medications to protect uninfected individuals from HIV infection. Incorporating PrEP into existing HIV prevention programs, however, poses a number of challenges. In the U.S., those programs that are most likely to be cost effective may nevertheless fail to achieve one of the most important objectives of public health: improving the health of the community while addressing the needs of the most disadvantaged. This paper reviews some of those implementation challenges through the lens of social justice, suggesting that some trade-offs may be necessary in order to address the needs of those most at risk for acquiring HIV. Continue reading…

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Ars Technica

Wilkinson, Allie. Ten years after SARS, a novel coronavirus causes global health concerns. March 14, 2013.
A new virus emerged nearly a year ago in Jordan, predominantly infecting people who live in or have traveled to the Middle East. Two days ago, the World Health Organization confirmed the fifteenth case of infection with the novel coronavirus—a family of viruses that includes both the common cold and SARS—and a fatality that brought the death count to nine. The World Health Organization has been monitoring the situation closely and has been working with agencies in member states, such as the Center for Disease Control, to better understand the public health risk posed by the virus. Continue reading…

Johsnon, Scott. A warmer planet means bigger hurricane surges. March 18, 2013.
Almost every major storm is now accompanied by a climate change discussion. Everybody wants to ask whether human impacts on the climate system “caused” the storm. Unless framed carefully, it’s kind of a lousy question. We can’t say for sure that an individual storm wouldn’t have occurred if we hadn’t warmed the planet by roughly 1°C—climate is, by definition, statistical. So we use analogies like the climate loading the dice (or juicing its hits like a steroid-assisted major leaguer). What we do know is that every storm now takes place in a world that's notably warmer than it was a century ago. Continue reading…

Los Angeles Times

Editorial. Subverting reproductive rights: North Dakota’s dubious honor. March 19, 2013.
North Dakota Gov. Jack Dalrymple should not sign any of the legislature's half-dozen bills that seek to subvert a well-established constitutional right to abortion. Continue reading…

Editorial. Battle over ‘biosimilars’. March 17, 2013.
One of the most promising frontiers in healthcare is biologic medicines — complex substances derived from living cells that can help fight chronic diseases and cancers. To encourage investment in biologics, Congress in 2010 gave drug companies what amounts to a 12-year monopoly on the substances they developed. Now, supporters of biologics are pushing lawmakers in Sacramento and other state capitals to put new hurdles in the way of knock-off compounds, called "biosimilars." Continue reading…

Editorial. The Medicare debate we need. March 14, 2013.
One criticism of the Medicare overhaul that House Budget Committee Chairman Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) has championed is that it would shift more and more of the program's costs onto seniors. In the latest version of his plan, Ryan acknowledges that capping the growth of the program could, in fact, make health insurance more expensive for some retirees. But that's part of the point of the change, which would concentrate Medicare spending on the poorest and sickest seniors. Continue reading…

Editorial. No haven for horse meat. March 12, 2013.
There is no market these days for horse meat in this country. The last horse slaughterhouses in the U.S. stopped production in 2007, the result of laws in Illinois and Texas banning horse slaughter or the sale of horse meat for human consumption. That same year, a congressional appropriations bill that included a rider banning the funding of U.S. Department of Agriculture inspection of horse meat went into effect. And without inspections, U.S. plants can't sell meat anywhere in the world. But after years of renewing the ban, Congress let it lapse in late 2011. Now the Department of Agriculture is under pressure from a New Mexico meat-processing company to resume horse meat inspections. Continue reading…

New York Times

Editorial. Drugs for early stage Alzheimer’s. March 17, 2013.
The Food and Drug Administration has proposed lowering the bar for approving drugs to treat people at the earliest stages of Alzheimer’s disease, before they have developed any serious impairment or overt dementia. The goal is commendable — to find ways to prevent or slow the progression of this terrible disease before it can rob people of their mental capacities. But the proposal raises troubling questions as to whether the agency would end up approving drugs that provide little or no clinical benefit yet cause harmful side effects in people who take the medications for extended periods. Continue reading…

Editorial. A cure in essence for HIV in some adults. March 18, 2013.
Two weeks ago, American doctors reported that they had “functionally” cured a baby infected with H.I.V., the virus that causes AIDS, with an aggressive treatment of drugs starting some 30 hours after the baby was born. Experts hailed the feat but cautioned that the findings might have little relevance to adults. Continue reading…

Editorial. A young man with down syndrome, a fatal encounter, and a cry for understanding. March 18, 2013.
You may not have heard of Robert Ethan Saylor, but his death in January should inspire something more lasting than a small-town police investigation. Continue reading…

Editorial. Why label genetically engineered food? March 14, 2013.
Whole Foods Market caused a stir last week when it announced that it would require all products sold in its stores in the United States and Canada to carry labels indicating whether they contain genetically modified ingredients by 2018. Food advocacy groups hailed its action as a possible “game changer” that would push the entire food industry to adopt similar labels. Continue reading…


Kloor, Keith. Can Wind Turbines Make You Sick? March 20, 2013.
In the past several years, scores of people living near wind farms have claimed to have been sickened by noise from the rotating blades. They have complained of everything from headaches and depression to conjunctivitis and nosebleeds. Is “wind turbine syndrome” real? Is it just another imaginary illness stoked by loons on the Internet? Are the victims a bunch of fakers? Continue reading…

Marris, Emma. Not that high. March 20, 2013.
My brother is a weed scientist. Every weekday morning, he drives to work in the Fremont neighborhood of Seattle, throws on a lab coat with “Northwest Botanical Analysis” stitched over the pocket, and starts putting tiny samples of ganja through a gas chromatography machine, among other gadgets.* He tells breeders and the “dispensaries” that that currently distribute pot under the local medical marijuana system the potency of their various colorfully named strains as well as the relative amounts of the many subtly different compounds, called cannabinoids and terpenes, that make each one a different experience to smoke. He checks for mites, pesticides, and mold (a common problem with bud grown in Seattle’s damp basements). These days, he’s talking to the state Liquor Control Board as it works on the rules and regulations for retail sales of dope starting later this year. Continue reading…

Johnson, George. Cancer cluster or chance? March 19, 2013.
Lay a chessboard on a table. Then grab a handful of rice and let the grains fall and scatter where they may. They won’t spread out uniformly with the same number occupying each square. Instead there will be clusters. Now suppose that the chessboard is a map of the United States and the grains are cases of cancer. Continue reading…

Lutz, Amy. Where should special needs kids be special? March 16, 2013.
Earlier this year, I was out to dinner with a friend and our combined eight kids. My 14-year-old son, Jonah, who has autism, was very excited about the imminent arrival of his hamburger and french fries, so he was acting as he does when he’s happy: bouncing in his seat, clapping his hands, and vocalizing a mishmash of squawks and catchphrases from his favorite Sesame Street videos. He wasn’t exceedingly loud, but the oddness of his behavior had clearly caught the attention of an older gentleman at the one other table occupied at that early hour. Continue reading…

Washington Post 

Editorial. In Maryland, marijuana possession gets a more fitting penalty. March 20, 2013.

The Maryland Senate’s vote to decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana would not, as some critics warn, make it okay to use the drug. Such use would still be illegal, but it would be a civil offense, punishable by fines rather than imprisonment. Not only would this save law enforcement valuable resources but also prevent the lives of many young people from being ruined. We hope the House of Delegates follows the Senate’s lead and that Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) signs this sensible measure into law. Continue reading…

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