Yale Institution for Social and Policy Studies

Greetings from Stephen Latham, Bioethics Center Director

In our last Newsletter I shared the sad news of the death of Sherwin Nuland, MD—bioethicist, surgeon, historian and longtime Executive Committee member of the Center. I’m pleased to announce that our Summer Bioethics Institute, in which Shep taught for many years, is being re-named in his honor. Shep’s wife Sarah has kindly given us permission to accept gifts in his memory; these will be devoted to the Summer Institute’s work.

Our Animal Ethics group is sponsoring a public lecture on Thursday, April 3 at 4:15 at the Interdisciplinary Center for Bioethics (238 Prospect St.).  Robert Bass (Philosophy, North Carolina at Pembroke) will give a talk on the ethics of meat consumption entitled “Moral Risk and Moral Lore.

Congratulations to our former Technology and Ethics group co-convener Nick Bostrom on being nominated by Prospect Magazine as one of their “World’s Top Thinkers” for 2014!

Bioethics Center member Judith Gordon recently gave two talks at the “NGO parallel events” occurring during the recent UN Commission on the Status of Women. The first, on decent work and mental health, was given at a meeting organized by the UN representative of the International Federation of Women Lawyers, co-sponsored by the World Federation of Mental Health. The second was at an event organized by the Sub-committee on Older Women of the NGO Committee on Ageing. Congratulations, Judy!

Bioethics Center Visiting Scholar Matthew Weed is being interviewed this week by WTNH News8’s anchor, Ann Nyberg. Matthew will be discussing new ways to give health professionals direct experience of real-world chronic health management. Portions of the interview will air on Channel 8 on Tuesday between 7 and 8; the full interview will be posted on YouTube and at WTNH.com.

If you have news or know of an event that should be included in this newsletter, send the information to me at Stephen.Latham@Yale.edu, with the word “Frimail” in the subject-line.


Thursday, April 3 at 4:15 PM
Animal Ethics Lecture
238 Prospect St, conf rm
Speaker: Robert Bass, PhD, Adjunct Associate Professor, Department of Philosophy, University of North Carolina at Pembroke
Topic: Moral Risk and Moral Lore

  Updates from the Summer Institute

Campus Events

Conferences & Off Campus Events

Grants, Fellowships & Jobs

Other Items



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Updates from the Summer Institute

From Associate Director Carol Pollard

Many Summer Students and Instructors checked in over Spring Break.  Thanks for the great updates!

*Daniel Callahan, Founder and President Emeritus of The Hastings Center and past morning lecturer, published a paper based on the talk he gave last year in our Morning Lecture Series.  Dan’s lecture was so appreciated that I thought I’d give you his paper.  Please click here to access it.

*Congratulations to Evie Lindemann, past and present seminar leader, who was presented with the Adele Paire Award in the 113th Annual Juried Art Exhibition of the New Haven Paint & Clay Club.  To see a picture of the piece that won this prestigious award, please click here. 

*Jessica Hahne writes: “My microbiology professor just sent our class a New York Times article that features some great information on obesity/pharma.  If you haven't already seen this, thought you would find it interesting!”  (Thanks Jessica!)

*Tyler Bourgoise is now a Bioethics Researcher at Mt. Sinai Icahn School of Medicine in New York City. (Congratulations Tyler!  We’ll see Tyler this summer because he is coming back to present in my discussion group!)

*Gelareh Homayounfar writes: “I will be doing a preliminary medicine year at the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, Massachusetts, and a Dermatology Residency at SUNY Downstate in Brooklyn, New York.  I am very excited to start this next phase of my training!”  (Congratulations Gelareh on this achievement and your upcoming graduation from Harvard Medical School!)

*Justin Stahl has been accepted to Stanford University Law School.  (Congratulations Justin!)

*Lisa (Ellison-Cherny) Glass is now an attorney within her own firm: Glass Law Office, PA.  (Congratulations Lisa!)

*Theo El Sayed Omar, past Summer Student and soon-to-be Summer Instructor, writes:You will be pleased to hear that I applied for a position on the UK Donation Ethics Committee (UKDEC) - an independent committee of 14 professionals (transplant surgeons, bioethics professors, etc..) supported by the Academy of Royal Medical Colleges to advise and provide guidance on ethical aspects of organ donation and transplantation to the British government and NHSBT.  Just to give you a perspective on how the experience from attending and lecturing at the Yale Bioethics Summer Program provides wonderful opportunities, there were 72 applicants, with 30 applicants invited for interview, and 6 were selected. I was one of those 6!  The chairman Chris Rudge, National Clinical Director for Transplantation, said that I was the youngest member to ever be on a UK organ donation ethics committee, and I greatly believe that my experience at Yale, listed both on my CV and discussed during my interview, played a huge role.”  (Congratulations Theo!)

*Wendell Wallach, past and present Morning Lecturer, sent this cheery bit of information: NASA Study Concludes When Civilization Will End – And It’s Not Looking Good For Us!

*Chizoba (Chizzy) Nwachukwu writes: “It's with pleasure that I announce to you that Obi (Obinna T. Nwankwo) and I are getting married in May.  I am so excited about it.  :)  Both families are already planning and getting things done in preparation for the BIG DAY, and we thank God for all he's doing in our lives.  Meanwhile we are still pursuing and hoping to get a residency spot in the US.  It's very tough nowadays for foreign trained doctors to get a spot in the US, but we are still hopeful that one day God will bless the efforts.” (Chizzy and Obi, congratulations to both of you and Good Luck!)

*Jonathan Dudley is now a Resident at Massachusetts General Hospital.  He is also author of a book titled Broken Words: The Abuse of Science and Faith in American Politics, (Random House) that was written, in part, during his summer stay with us.  The book was featured on CNN’s Newsroom with Kyra Philips, The Huffington Post, Booklist, the San Francisco Chronicle, and several nationally syndicated radio shows, hundreds of blogs – and several thousand copies have been sold!  (Congratulations Jonathan!)

*Ramona Fernandez writes: “I am now an elected member on the Board of Directors for the international Association of Death Education and Counseling (ADEC).  My position officially begins in April 2014 at the annual conference, where I'll also be presenting a talk and a poster.  I wanted to make an open offer that if anyone in our Yale circles is interested in loss, bereavement, palliative medicine, and end of life care in general, I am happy to help them network and make connections.  Also, I'm very honoured that my former graduate program in Counseling Psychology at Western University (UWO) has offered me an Adjunct Assistant Professor position within the program, and I'll be working closely with the Master's students.”  (Congratulations Ramona!)

*Besides helping to load 2014 lecture and seminar materials onto the Yale Classes Server, Juan Carmona is getting married on April 5th.  (Congratulations Juan and Thank You for helping!)

*Jennifer Chevinsky writes: “Everything has been good with me.  I recently had the opportunity to present the research that I started at the Yale Summer Institute at a University of Maastricht Bioethics Symposium.  It was quite an exciting experience, and I have been asked to write a chapter on the “Ethics of Fragile-X and Future Generations” for their related publication.  Additionally, I have had the continued pleasure to work with Tuaa (Tuua Ruutiainen) on the AMA-MSS Committee on Bioethics and Humanities, and in a related capacity, I have also been in communication with another Yale Summer Bioethics alum, Rafaay (Rafaay Syed).  Another great project that I have been involved with is '@BioethxChat,' a weekly Twitter chat on bioethics topics for bioethicists, healthcare professionals, students, and members of the general public.  More information can be found on our website http://bioethxchat.wix.com/bioethx.  I look forward to hearing about the great accomplishments of this upcoming year's Bioethics Summer Institute students!
p.s. @bioethxchat will be having a special live twitter chat on April 21st at 8:30PM ET on 'Immigration, Health, & Ethics' with guest host Mark Kuczewski, a past president of the American Society for Bioethics and Humanities and current Director of the Neiswanger Institute for Bioethics at Loyola University.  It will be a great opportunity for students to learn from and interact with a bioethics scholar over social media.” (Congratulations Jennifer, Tuua, and Rafaay!)

*Imane Aissani is now engaged.  (Congratulations Imane!)

*Alex Paton is now engaged.  (Congratulations Alex!)

*Allison Grady and Christian Krautkramer welcomed their new son John Francis Krautkramer into the world earlier this month.  (Congratulations Ally and Christian!)

*Dawne Southworth is expecting a baby.  (Congratulations Dawne!)

*Past and present morning lecturers Mary Evelyn Tucker and John Grim have just had another book published: Ecology and Religion (Island Press, 2014.)  Here is a quote about the book from Gus Speth, immediate past dean of Yale’s School of Forestry and Environmental Studies: “How wonderful to have the world’s leading authorities on religion and ecology offer this profound but accessible examination of the field just as the world’s religions are entering their ecological phase.  This book is more than a source of deep understanding – it is an inspiration.”  (Congratulations John and Mary Evelyn!)

*Congratulations to past Summer Seminar Leader Christiana (Christy) Peppard on the publication of her book Just Water: Theology, Ethics, and the Global Water Crisis.  (The book is an interdisciplinary analysis of the value of fresh water that generates timely and principled conclusions at the intersections of hydrology, ecology, ethics, theology, and Catholic social thought.)

*Samual Garner writes: “my co-authored paper on factory farming was finally published.  This is my first real research paper, so I'm excited!”  (Congratulations Samual!)

*David Odo, past Summer Seminar Leader, writes: “I want to let you know that I am soon to take up a new position at the Harvard Art Museums as Director of Student Programs and Research Curator of University Collections Initiatives.”  (Congratulations and Good Luck David!)

*Autumn Ridenour writes: “I write with good news.  I recently accepted a tenure-track job offer at Merrimack College for Assistant Professor of Religious and Theological Studies.  Merrimack was a first choice for me given both its Augustinian identity as a Catholic college and its Boston area location.  My family and I consider it a good providence to have landed in such a wonderful position.  For those of you belonging to the Society of Christian Ethics, you will be happy to know that Mark Allman serves as my new Department Chair.  I look forward to working with him and other outstanding faculty members as I enter a new era for my career in teaching and research.  Also, Merrimack's Augustinian identity is a good fit for my own research interest in St. Augustine (and his interpreters) for the field of Christian Ethics.   Many of you have served as mentors and colleagues along the way.  I am thankful for that which I've learned and continue to learn from your scholarship.  Others of you have served as friends and companions.  Your love and prayers have sustained me throughout my studies and spiritual journey.  I'm grateful for your role in my/our lives and am delighted to share our good news with you.   With many thanks and warm wishes.”  (Congratulations and Good Luck Autumn!)

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

More next week!


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This Week on Campus

Monday, March 31

Zigler Center Lecture
Time: 9 AM
Location: 230 S Frontage Rd, Cohen Auditorium
Speaker: Megan V. Smith, Director of the New Haven MOMS Partnership
Topic: Partnering with Communities to Address Maternal Mental Health

Wednesday, April 2

School of Forestry Seminar
Time: 12 PM
Location: 195 Prospect St, Burke Auditorium
Speaker: Amy Myers Jaffe, Executive Director of Energy & Sustainability, UC Davis
Topic: The Geopolitics of US Energy Independence: Myths and Realities

Rudd Center Seminar
Time: 12:30 PM
Location: 309 Edwards St, conf room
Speaker: William R. Spencer, MD, Suffolk County Legislator
Topic: The Politics of Public Health Policy 

Thursday, April 3

Environmental Law & Policy Webinar
Time: 12 PM
Location: online
Speaker: Martha Noble, vice-chair of the Agricultural Management Committee of the American Bar Association’s Section of Environment, Energy, and Resources
Topic: The 2014 Farm Bill: A Fair Shake for Sustainable Farmers and Farming Systems?

Humanities in Medicine's Thomas Duffy Lecture
Time: 5 PM
Location: 300 Cedar St, Anlyan Auditorium
Speaker: Karyl K. Evans, Five Time Emmy Award-winning Filmmaker
Topic: Her film, "Letter From Italy, 1944: A New American Oratorio"

Environmental Law & Policy Seminar
Time: 6:10 PM
Location: 127 Wall St, room 128
Speaker: Mary Wood, Philip H. Knight Professor of Law, University of Oregon School of Law
Topic: Nature's Trust: Environmental Law for a New Ecological Age

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Conferences & Off Campus Events

Villanova announces a conference on the Ethics of War, co-sponsored by the United States Military Academy.  The conference will be held April 4-5, 2014 on Villanova’s campus. Plenary speakers: David Luban, University Professor and Professor of Law and Philosophy, Georgetown University; Distinguished Visitor in Ethics Stockdale Center for Ethics, US Naval Academy, “Preventive War”; Karen Greenberg, Director, Center on National Security, Fordham Law School, “Peace or Perpetual War? Thinking Beyond the War on Terror”;  Nancy Sherman, University Professor, Fellow of the Kennedy Institute, Georgetown University, “Moral Injury and Moral Repair”; and Jeff McMahan, Professor of Philosophy, Rutgers University, and David Rodin, Senior Fellow at the Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs in New York and Senior Research Fellow at the University of Oxford, A Discussion: “The Revisionist School and the Ethics of War: Human Rights and Individual Responsibilities”. Information on registration, the program, as well as lodging information, can be found at www.ethicsofwar.villanova.edu.

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Global Health & Innovation Conference
Presented by Unite For Sight, 11th Annual Conference
Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut, USA
Saturday, April 12 - Sunday, April 13, 2014

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 2,200 leaders, changemakers, students, and professionals from all fields of global health, international development, and social entrepreneurship.  Interested in presenting at the conference? Submit a social enterprise pitch abstract for consideration. The conference's confirmed speakers include Keynote Addresses:  "Reducing Toxins to Protect Health: A Global Concern," Arlene Blum, PhD, Visiting Scholar, UC Berkeley; Green Science Policy Institute;  "Of Course it Matters, and We Know You Care, But Now, What are You Going To Do About It?" Seth Godin, Blogger, Agent of Change; New York Times Bestselling Author of Tribes: We Need You To Lead Us; Founder, Squidoo.com; Gary Hirshberg, Co-Founder and CEO, Stonyfield Farms;  Michael Moss, Investigative Reporter, New York Times;  Jeffrey Sachs, PhD, Director of Earth Institute, Columbia University; Quetelet Professor of Sustainable Development, Professor of Health Policy and Management, Columbia University; Special Advisor to Secretary-General of the United Nations Ban Ki-moon;  Sonia Ehrlich Sachs, MD, MPH, Director of Health, Millennium Village Project, Earth Institute, Columbia University. Complete conference details can be seen on the 2014 Global Health & Innovation Conference website.

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A Critical Look at the World of Energy in 2030
Thursday, April 17, 2014 | 8:30 am – 5:30 pm
Burke Auditorium, Kroon Hall, 195 Prospect Street, New Haven, CT
Please join Yale Climate & Energy Institute on Thursday, April 17th, for a critical look at the world of energy in 2030. Jumping off from today's projections, speakers and panelists will examine key countries, sectors, technologies and policies that may disrupt conventional views and dramatically change the world of energy within 20 years. Our Fifth Annual Conference will honor Rajendra Pachauri, chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and first director of YCEI, who will close the event with an address on energy scenarios and climate projections from the IPCC Fifth Assessment Report.
Register for the conference via e-mail to YCEI@yale.edu. Include your name and affiliation within the body of the message. The event is free of charge and open to everyone, but space is limited.

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Eating Animals: Design and Violence Debate III
Thursday, April 17, 2014, 6:30 p.m.
Bartos Theater, Museum of Modern Art, New York
The third debate will center upon Temple Grandin’s “serpentine ramp,” a slaughterhouse design modification that attempts stress reduction and a more humane death for animals. Professor Gary L. Francione (Distinguished Professor of Law, Rutgers, and author, Eat Like You Care: An Examination of the Morality of Eating Animals) and Nicola Twilley (editor/author of Edible Geography.com, co-founder of the Foodprint Project, and director of Studio-X NYC) will deliver debate motions, moderated by Design and Violence co-curator Paola Antonelli. Ticket information at: http://www.moma.org/visit/calendar/events/20611

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Disability Rights in the 21stCentury: Creative Solutions for Achieving the Right to Live in the World
April 24-25, 2014
National Federation of the Blind Jernigan Institute Baltimore, Maryland

The 2014 Jacobus tenBroek Disability Law Symposium will consist of plenary sessions and workshops facilitated by distinguished law professors, practitioners, and advocates who will discuss topics such as: disability discrimination in the criminal and juvenile justice systems, next steps in Olmstead litigation, rights of parents with disabilities, supported decision making as an alternative to guardianship, and how to work with the media to get the disability rights message across. 2014 plenary session presenters:   Michael W. Bien, managing partner, Rosen, Bien, Galvan & Grunfeld, LLP;  Peter Blanck, university professor, Syracuse University, and chairman, Burton Blatt Institute;  Christopher S. Danielsen, director of public relations, National Federation of the Blind; Matthew W. Dietz, president and Litigation Director, Disability Independence Group, Inc.;  Maureen Henry, former executive director, Utah Commission on Aging; Talila Lewis, founder and president, HEARD;  Carrie Ann Lucas, executive director, Center for Rights of Parents with Disabilities; Jonathan Martinis, legal director, Quality Trust for Individuals with Disabilities; Robyn Powell, attorney advisor, National Council on Disability; Barry Taylor, vice president for civil rights and systemic litigation, Equip for Equality; Joseph B. Tulman, professor of law and director, Took Crowell Institute for Youth; and Theresa Vargas, staff writer, The Washington Post. The luncheon keynote will be given by Catherine Lhamon, assistant secretary, Office for Civil Rights, United States Department of Education. Documentation for CLE credits will be provided. Registration fee: $175, Student registration fee: $25. To learn more about the symposium and symposium sponsorship opportunities, view the agenda, and register online, please visit https://nfb.org/law-symposium.  You may also download from this Web site a registration form to mail or fax.  Hotel information is also available on the symposium Web site. For additional information, contact: Lou Ann Blake, JD, Law Symposium Coordinator, Jernigan Institute, NATIONAL FEDERATION OF THE BLIND, 200 East Wells Street at Jernigan Place, Baltimore, Maryland 21230, Telephone: 410-659-9314, ext. 2221, E-mail: lblake@nfb.org<mailto:lblake@nfb.org

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Petrie-Flom 2014 Annual Conference: Behavioral Economics, Law, and Health Policy
May 2-3
Richard H. Thaler and Cass R. Sunstein's book  Nudge: Improving Decisions About Health, Wealth, and Happiness brought behavioral economics to the masses, beginning a discussion of libertarian paternalism and the many ways that "choice architects" can help nudge people to make better choices for themselves without forcing certain outcomes on anyone. Some of their examples fall in the realm of health policy, as is also the case of Daniel Kahneman's recent book, Thinking, Fast and Slow, which examines various cognitive errors people make in their judgments, choices, and conclusions, as well as how we might correct them.  But the conversation has only just begun. Building on the success of the behavioral economics movement, this conference will further develop the scholarly discussion by focusing on key issues in health law policy, bioethics, and biotechnology by addressing both broad conceptual questions and more specific policy applications. The full conference agenda is now available on our website. Highlights include: Keynote: Cass Sunstein, Robert Walmsley University Professor, Harvard Law School; Plenary 1: Alan M. Garber, Provost, Harvard University; Mallinckrodt Professor of Health Care Policy, Harvard Medical School; Professor of Economics, Faculty of Arts and Sciences; Professor of Public Policy, Harvard Kennedy School of Government; and Professor, Department of Health Policy and Management, Harvard School of Public Health; Plenary 2: Russell Korobkin, Richard C. Maxwell Professor of Law, UCLA School of Law; Plenary 3: Michael Hallsworth, Principal Advisor,  The Behavioural Insights Team (UK). Attendance is free and open to the public, but space is limited and registration is required. Register here. For questions, contact petrie-flom@law.harvard.edu or 617-496-4662.

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New Opportunities, New Challenges: Exploring the Ethical Boundaries of Pediatric Research
July 18-19
Seattle, WA

In July 2005, Seattle Children’s hosted its first annual pediatric bioethics conference, entitled “Pediatric Research and Our Children’s Future.” Now, a decade later, we revisit the topic as we focus on the changing and challenging world of pediatric bioethics, "New Opportunities, New Challenges: Exploring the Ethical Boundaries of Pediatric Research." An impressive lineup of speakers will examine a wide range of questions and issues:  Parents of seriously ill children are often desperate for new therapies, even if in early phase trials. Is truly voluntary consent possible in such a situation? Social media allows researchers to “eavesdrop” on adolescent behavior. Should there be constraints on this type of investigation? Is it ever acceptable to conduct research in developing countries that would be considered inappropriate in the US? If hospitals set up biobanks for research, what is needed to ensure public trust? You can lend your voice to this discussion, sharing your insights and experiences. We urge you to participate in this timely and important forum, as we attempt to clarify some of these ambiguous issues. Seattle Children’s Bioethics Conference has become one of the signature events in the pediatric bioethics community, garnering strong reviews from the thousands that have joined us in the last decade. We look forward to seeing you in our beautiful, waterfront city this summer. To learn more and to register, visit: seattlechildrens.org/pediatric-bioethics-conference

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Global Challenges: Achieving Sustainability
IARU Sustainability Science Congress
Copenhagen, Denmark
October 22nd - 24th 2014
The Sustainability Science Congress puts focus on research related to global sustainability issues. This international and solutions orientated congress invites experts across disciplines to break down academic barriers and jumpstart a broader collaboration on sustainable solutions relevant for society. Also targeting businesses and policy makers, the congress aims to provide a platform for science-policy interface relevant for global challenges. The congress is a full three day event from October 22 -24. The opening session with representatives of IARU, the Chair of the Scientific Steering Committee, Professor Katherine Richardson, EU Climate Commissioner Connie Hedegaard and others will emphasize why research is an essential partner to politicians and private enterprise in shaping the societal response to global sustainability challenges and set the scene for the coming day’s deliberations. The congress is held back-to-back with the Global Green Growth Forum (3GF), a high level event for politicians and business leaders initiated by the Danish Government in collaboration with the governments of China, Kenya, Mexico, Qatar and Rep. of Korea. The opening session will reflect on the outcomes of 3GF bringing the solutions and commitments in focus for public-private partnerships into the scientific arena. The closing panel debate with leading representatives from research and policy will look ahead towards the UN Sustainable Development Goals and the IPCC Synthesis Report to be presented for policymakers in Copenhagen shortly after the congress. Plenary talks and parallel theme sessions will take place throughout the three days of the congress. Confirmed plenary speakers are announced here.  Abstract submission is open until April 12th. Registration is open. Deadline for early bird discount extended until April 12th.

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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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Other Items of Interest

The Program in Narrative Medicine of Columbia University and the American Medical Student Association are co-sponsoring an intensive Summer Institute in Narrative Medicine from June 16 to June 20, 2014.  This is the first national Institute offered to medical students and pre-medical students by the founding faculty of Narrative Medicine. We are seeking pre-medical college undergraduates and medical students, and those studying in other health care fields, who want to develop knowledge and skill in Narrative Medicine.  This five-day institute will deliver keynote lectures and small-group training in the fundamentals of narrative approaches to clinical care.

- Receive intensive training in close reading, creative writing, and reflective practice;
- Learn from the leaders in inter-disciplinary education and team-building;
- Hands-on creative projects in language, visual art, performance art, and multi-media;
- Study with Master of Science in Narrative Medicine graduates, students, and faculty;
- Visit New York resources in the arts, music, and theatre.

The registration fee of $500 includes breakfast and lunch each day.  The registration fee does not include travel or housing. All activities take place on the Columbia University Morningside Campus. For more information, or visit narrativemedicine.org.

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Brocher Summer Academy 2014: Ethical Choices for DALYs and the Measurement of the Global Burden of Disease
Deadline: March 28, 2014

The biennial Summer Academy in the Ethics of Global Population Health is hosted by the Brocher Foundation on the shores of Lake Geneva June 9-13 2014, introducing faculty and advanced graduate students to population-level bioethics. This fast-developing academic field addresses ethical questions in population- and global health rather than ones in individual patient care. The Global Burden of Disease (GBD) project is a systematic, scientific effort to quantify the comparative magnitude of health loss due to diseases, injuries, and risk factors. From its inception in the early 1990s, scientists and philosophers recognized that ethical and philosophical questions arise at every turn. For example, it must be decided whether each year in the lifespan is to count alike, and whether future deaths and disabilities should be given the same weight as those in the present. These choices and decisions matter: the share of disease burden due to myocardial infarction could vary as much as 400% depending on what position is adopted on two of the ethical choices described in the GBD 2010 report.  Key experts in the field of global health policy, along with senior academics in several fields, will lecture and lead discussions with talented younger scholars for five full days. Issues will include those most likely to arise in the GBD area during the next several years. Among these are the choice between health and (health-related) well-being as the object of study and measurement; the role of GBD in priority-setting (cost-effectiveness analysis, cost-benefit analysis, and other methods); and issues arising from the mix of categorical attribution (by cause of death, according to a classification system) and counter-factual analysis. Younger scholars and advanced graduate students will be invited to participate, and will be selected for their potential to become prominent contributors to the field. Early morning sessions will address broad themes and methodological issues. TARGET AUDIENCE: 40 young scholars (post-doctoral fellows, junior faculty, and advanced graduate students) in philosophy, political science, economics and other social sciences, the biomedical sciences, and global health, and practitioners and professionals in health policy and global health, selected from applications. Participation is free, but a fee of CH 550 is required of all accepted participants to cover course documentation, five nights of accommodation, five lunches and four dinners, and local transportation. The application form, which can be found here (under "Inscription à l'événement" or "Call for participation" on the call for applications page), should be accompanied by a short CV, one writing sample, and a one-paragraph description of your current research interests. Deadline for applications: March 28, 2014.

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The Petrie-Flom Center is pleased to announce that the first issue of Journal of Law and the Biosciences (JLB) is now available online. The articles are:

  • Knoppers, Bartha M., Edward S. Dove, & Ma'n H. Zawati. "Towards an Ethics Safe Harbor for Global Biomedical Research."
  • Dresser, Rebecca. "Public Preferences and the Challenge to Genetic Research Policy."
  • Savulescu, Julian, et al. "The regulation of cognitive enhancement devices: Extending the medical model."
  • Caulfield, Timothy, et al. "A Review of the Key Issues Associated with the Commercialization of Biobanks."

Journal of Law and the Biosciences (JLB) is the first fully open access peer-reviewed legal journal focused on the advances at the intersection of law and the biosciences. A co-venture between Duke University, Harvard Law School, and Stanford University, and published by Oxford University Press, this open access, online, and interdisciplinary academic journal publishes cutting-edge scholarship in this important new field. JLB is published as one volume with three issues per year with new articles posted online on an ongoing basis. JLB encourages the submission of original manuscripts, responses, essays, and new developments devoted to the examination of issues related to the intersection of law and biosciences, including bioethics, neuroethics, genetics, reproductive technologies, stem cells, enhancement, patent law, and food and drug regulation. The Journal welcomes submissions of varying length, with a theoretical, empirical, practical, or policy oriented focus.  For more information about JLB, click here. To submit a manuscript, click hereJLB is actively soliciting articles for the next issue, which will be published on July 8, 2014. 

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Articles of Interest

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In the News

Featured Article

Poon, Linda. A booming economy doesn’t save children from malnutrition. NPR. 27 March 2014.
Lack of food is the leading cause of child death worldwide, killing 3.1 million children each year and accounting for 45 percent of all child mortality. Undernourished children who survive still face a daunting future, including reduced intellectual capacity and a higher risk of disease and disability. And while economic growth is presumed to get more children fed, a booming economy alone doesn't fix the problem, researchers say. Children's health isn't tracking with improvements in standard of living and economic growth, according to S.V. Subramanian, a social epidemiologist at Harvard University and the study's senior author. Continue reading...


Runyon, Luke. In ranchers vs. weeds, climate change gives weeds an edge. NPR. 25 March 2014.
Most climate models paint a bleak picture of the Great Plains a century from now as a hot region besieged by heavy rainstorms and flooding. And new studies suggest that climate change may bring farmers another headache: more invasive plants. Continue reading...

Smith, Jada. ‘Environmental poisoning’ of Iraq is claimed. The New York Times. 26 March 2014.
An advocacy group representing American military veterans and Iraqi civilians arrived here on Wednesday armed with a message for the United States government: Washington must do something for the thousands of people suffering from what the group called the “environmental poisoning” of Iraq during the war. The group, Right to Heal, says that veterans and civilians continue to feel the effects of the burn pits — banned by Congress four years ago — that were used to dispose of military waste, and that new health problems arise every day for Iraqis. Continue reading...


Charles, Dan. Food giants want ‘sustainable’ beef. But what does that mean? NPR. 25 March 2014.
McDonald's made a big green splash a few months ago by announcing that it will start buying "verified sustainable" beef in 2016. A chorus of voices responded, "What's 'verified sustainable' beef?" McDonald's, it turns out, is part of a group that's trying to come up with an answer. It's called the Global Roundtable for Sustainable Beef, and its members include some of the biggest names in the beef industry as well as some environmental groups. Continue reading...

Tavernise, Sabrina. F.D.A. unveils deal to limit antibiotic use in animal feed. The New York Times. 26 March 2014.
The Food and Drug Administration said on Wednesday that nearly all drug companies that make antibiotics for use in animal feed had agreed to go along with its proposal to phase out the use of the drugs to make animals grow faster. The agency said that 25 of the 26 companies that make the drugs for animal feed said they would remove the words “growth-promotion” from their labels, effectively making it illegal for farmers and ranchers to use the drugs for that purpose. Continue reading...

Health and Medicine

Tavernise, Sabrina and Robert Gebeloff. Smoking proves hard to shake among the poor. The New York Times. 24 March 2014.
As evidence of smoking’s deadly consequences has accumulated, the broad patterns of use by class have shifted: Smoking, the leading cause of preventable death in the country, is now increasingly a habit of the poor and the working class. While previous data established that pattern, a new analysis of federal smoking data released on Monday shows that the disparity is increasing. Continue reading...

Bernstein, Lenny. One in 25 patients has an infection acquired during hospital stay, CDC says. The Washington Post. 26 March 2014.
One in 25 patients in U.S. hospitals has an infection acquired as part of his or her care despite modest progress in controlling those pathogens inside medical facilities, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported Wednesday in its most comprehensive look at a stubborn and lethal health-care problem. Continue reading...

Rothberg, Daniel. Southeast Asia is polio-free, World Health Organization rules. Los Angeles Times. 27 March 2014.
The World Health Organization declared Southeast Asia polio-free Thursday, marking a global health milestone for India, where the disease accounted for nearly half of all worldwide cases just five years ago. The announcement comes after an independent commission of public health experts determined that the 11-nation region, as defined by the WHO, has not had a confirmed polio case for the last three years.  Continue reading...


Zimmer, Carl. Enlisting a computer to battle cancers, one by one. The New York Times. 27 March 2014.
When Robert B. Darnell was a graduate student in the early 1980s, he spent a year sequencing a tiny fragment of DNA. Now Dr. Darnell is an oncologist and the president of the New York Genome Center, where the DNA-sequencing machines can decode his grad-school fragment in less than a ten-thousandth of a second. As an oncologist, Dr. Darnell is firmly convinced that this technological advance will change how cancer is treated. “It’s inspiring for me, and it’s inspiring for lots of doctors,” he said in an interview. Continue reading...

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In the Journals

Decamp, Matthew. Ethical Challenges for Accountable Care Organizations: A Structured Review. Journal of General Internal Medicine. March 2014.
Accountable care organizations (ACOs) are proliferating as a solution to the cost crisis in American health care, and already involve as many as 31 million patients. ACOs hold clinicians, group practices, and in many circumstances hospitals financially accountable for reducing expenditures and improving their patients' health outcomes. The structure of health care affects the ethical issues arising in the practice of medicine; therefore, like all health care organizational structures, ACOs will experience ethical challenges. No framework exists to assist key ACO stakeholders in identifying or managing these challenges. Continue reading…

Giubilini, Alberto. Why and How to Compensate Living Organ Donors: Ethical Implications of the New Australian Scheme. Bioethics. 2014.
The Australian Federal Government has announced a two-year trial scheme to compensate living organ donors. The compensation will be the equivalent of six weeks paid leave at the rate of the national minimum wage. In this article I analyse the ethics of compensating living organ donors taking the Australian scheme as a reference point. Considering the long waiting lists for organ transplantations and the related costs on the healthcare system of treating patients waiting for an organ, the 1.3 million AUD the Australian Government has committed might represent a very worthwhile investment. I argue that a scheme like the Australian one is sufficiently well designed to avoid all the ethical problems traditionally associated with attaching a monetary value to the human body or to parts of it, namely commodification, inducement, exploitation, and equality issues. Therefore, I suggest that the Australian scheme, if cost-effective, should represent a model for other countries to follow. Nonetheless, although I endorse this scheme, I will also argue that this kind of scheme raises issues of justice in regard to the distribution of organs. Thus, I propose that other policies would be needed to supplement the scheme in order to guarantee not only a higher number of organs available, but also a fair distribution. Continue reading…

Grady, Christine. Assent in Research: The Voices of Adolescents. Journal of Adolescent Health. March 2014.
Adolescents join clinical research after investigators obtain their positive agreement or "assent." Although intended to respect adolescents, little is known about the views of adolescents or their parents regarding assent or research enrollment decisions. This study aimed to better understand perspectives of adolescent research participants and their parents about assent and parental permission. Continue reading…

Mayes, Christopher. The Harm of Bioethics: A Critique of Singer and Callahan on Obesity. Bioethics. March 2014.
Debate concerning the social impact of obesity has been ongoing since at least the 1980s. Bioethicists, however, have been relatively silent. If obesity is addressed it tends to be in the context of resource allocation or clinical procedures such as bariatric surgery. However, prominent bioethicists Peter Singer and Dan Callahan have recently entered the obesity debate to argue that obesity is not simply a clinical or personal issue but an ethical issue with social and political consequences. This article critically examines two problematic aspects of Singer and Callahan's respective approaches. First, there is an uncritical assumption that individuals are autonomous agents responsible for health-related effects associated with food choices. In their view, individuals are obese because they choose certain foods or refrain from physical activity. However, this view alone does not justify intervention. Both Singer and Callahan recognize that individuals are free to make foolish choices so long as they do not harm others. It is at this point that the second problematic aspect arises. To interfere legitimately in the liberty of individuals, they invoke the harm principle. I contend, however, that in making this move both Singer and Callahan rely on superficial readings of public health research to amplify the harm caused by obese individuals and ignore pertinent epidemiological research on the social determinants of obesity. I argue that the mobilization of the harm principle and corresponding focus on individual behaviours without careful consideration of the empirical research is itself a form of harm that needs to be taken seriously. Continue reading…

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Ars Technica

Timmer, John. Wyoming rejects science education standards over climate change. March 16, 2014.
Over the past several years, a number of states have worked with organizations including the National Research Council, National Science Teachers Association, and the American Association for the Advancement of Science to develop new standards for teaching science in public schools. The result, termed the Next Generation Science Standards, provides states with a chance to update their science education goals to focus more on the scientific process. So far, nine states and the District of Columbia have adopted the standards. Continue reading…

Timmer, John. Anti-vaccine group has charity status pulled by Australian government. March 18, 2014.
Over the last month, a group that had called itself the Australian Vaccination Network has suffered some heavy blows at the hands of Australian state governments. The group, which questions the safety and efficacy of vaccination, had been targeted by state regulators in the past, but it appealed the penalties they imposed. Now it has lost two appeals; as a result, it's been forced to both change its name and cease all fundraising as a charity. Continue reading…

Timmer, John. Journal pulls paper due to “legal context” created by climate contrarians. March 21, 2014.
Two years ago, a group of researchers published a paper with a provocative title: "NASA Faked the Moon Landing—Therefore, (Climate) Science Is a Hoax." In the paper, they noted that a subset of the community that has a hard time accepting the evidence for human-driven climate change tends to more generally believe conspiracy theories. Continue reading…

Lee, Chris. Rare earth recycling: Is it worth it? March 25, 2014.
Rare earth metals are absolutely critical to modern life. Fiber optic communications require erbium. Neodymium is a critical component in modern permanent magnets. Without a steady supply of rare earth metals, we would find ourselves in some difficulty, and things may get even more critical in the future—quantum memory may lie in the hands of praseodymium. Continue reading…

Solon, Olivia. Homeopathic remedies recalled for containing real medicine. March 27, 2014.
The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has recalled homeopathic remedies made by a company called Terra-Medica because they may contain actual medicine—possibly penicillin or derivatives of the antibiotic. Continue reading…

Timmer, John. Medical marijuana just might cause a small drop in crime. March 27, 2014.
There has been a general trend toward decriminalizing marijuana in the US, one that was spearheaded by the legalization of its use in medical situations. Those efforts have been opposed by many who argue that easy access to pot will lead people into harder drugs and boost the rate of unrelated crimes. Continue reading…

Chicago Tribune

Editorial. Florida signals an Obamacare backlash. March 14, 2014.
The message for Democrats from this week's special election for a U.S. House seat in Florida was clear: Talking about a fix for Obamacare will not move voters. Democrats are going to have to do it. Continue reading…

The Economist

Science & Technology. Acid Test. March 22, 2014.
Pluripotent stem cells are the source of an animal’s tissues. They have become a hot topic in medicine. Researchers hope to use them to test drugs, to make models of diseases, to grow transplantable organs and, one day perhaps, even to let patients regenerate missing or damaged parts of their own bodies. Continue reading…

Science & Technology. Apocalypse perhaps a little later. March 27, 2013.
It may come as a surprise to a walrus wondering where all the Arctic’s summer sea ice has gone. It could be news to a Staten Islander still coming to terms with what he lost to Hurricane Sandy. Continue reading…

Los Angeles Times

Daar, Judith and Aloni, Erez. Three genetic parents — for one healthy baby. March 21, 2014.
Since January, a new California law allows for a child to have more than two legal parents. But children are still limited to two genetic parents. That could change soon, if the Food and Drug Administration approves human clinical trials for a technique known as mitochondrial replacement, which would enable a child to inherit DNA from three parents. Continue reading…

Editorial. Unfair to Obamacare: Another ill-advised legal challenge. March 25, 2014.
Opponents of the Affordable Care Act have mounted the most far-reaching legal challenge to the law since the (unsuccessful) attempt to have its insurance mandate declared unconstitutional. At issue is whether the subsidies the law provides to help lower-income adults buy policies will be available in the 34 states with federally launched insurance exchanges, rather than just the state-operated ones. The Internal Revenue Service ruled that any American who meets the income limits can qualify for a subsidy; the plaintiffs say subsidies should be available only in the 16 states that set up their own exchanges. The latter interpretation, frankly, is ridiculous. Continue reading…

Editorial. Congress can’t get out of its own way on Medicare. March 27, 2014.
Maybe it was too good to be true. A rare bipartisan healthcare reform proposal backed by leaders of three major House and Senate committees is foundering because Republicans and Democrats can't agree on how to pay for it. The irony is that the measure, which would change the way Medicare reimburses doctors, would slow the growth of healthcare spending and taxpayers' costs. Lawmakers should stop the partisan bickering and start working in good faith to find a way to enact the long-overdue and much-needed reform. Continue reading…

New York Times

Editorial. Health Care Caricature. March 21, 2014.
Republican leaders are making preposterous assertions that President Obama has abandoned a centerpiece of his health care reforms — the requirement that most people obtain comprehensive insurance or pay a penalty. In a cartoonish misrepresentation of how so-called hardship exemptions will be determined, the leaders, egged on by their allies in the conservative media, contend that recent steps by the administration undermine the individual mandate by giving virtually everyone who wants one a free pass to escape the penalty. Continue reading…

Editorial. Lethal Liquid Nicotine. March 24, 2014.
As little as a teaspoon of liquid nicotine — the key ingredient in electronic cigarettes — can kill a small child and less than a tablespoon, at high concentrations, can kill an adult. Yet some vendors are offering to sell the lethal product over the Internet by the gallon or barrel, with little control over how it is handled, as reported by Matt Richtel in The Times on Monday. Continue reading…

Editorial. Updated Warnings for Generic Drugs. March 26, 2014.
Late last year, the Food and Drug Administration proposed sensible regulations that would authorize the makers of generic drugs to update safety labels independently, without waiting for F.D.A. approval, to warn of newly discovered risks. The change is strongly opposed by the makers of generics out of fear of being held liable for damages to patients harmed by their products. But the change is needed, both to give patients and doctors more timely warning of emerging risks and to enable patients to sue. Continue reading…

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