Tag: laboratory animals

Bioethics Blogs

Digital Immortality of the Future – Or, Advancements in Brain Emulation Research

By Kathy Bui

This post was written as part of a class assignment from students who took a neuroethics course with Dr. Rommelfanger in Paris of Summer 2016.
Kathy Bui is a 4th year undergraduate at Emory University, majoring in Neuroscience and Behavioral Biology and Psychology. She hopes to pursue a PhD in neurobiology after graduation. Her current interests include social justice topics of class disparities and human health rights. 
Introduction: “How do you want to be remembered?” 
The fear of our looming death has haunted us since human life began. It’s not hard to believe that the quest of human immortality has not changed since Gilgamesh’s quest for immortality in 22nd century BC. However, with the technological strides in conjunction with ambitious billionaires, the cure to death may be closer than we think. Life expectancy has been steadily increasing over decades, and yet, Americans seem to look forward to the inevitable prospect of immortality. According to a survey conducted by the Pew Research Center, 44% of Americans would want to extend their life to age 120 if given the opportunity [1, 2].

An integral part of human life is our biological death. We have sought to create artworks, legends, monuments that would outlive us – to show that we have made a mark on this world. In fact, they have: the Great Sphinx of Giza in Egypt, the Pantheon in Rome, and the Nanchan Temple in Wutai are only a few examples of the remaining buildings, surviving for centuries beyond their makers.
Interestingly enough, there is something else that has not only survived but is growing and expanding beyond expectation: the internet [3].

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.

Bioethics Blogs

In the Journals July 2016 – Pt. I by Christine Sargent

Check out the first instalment of this month’s In the Journals!

 

Critical public health 

Global mental health and its critics: moving beyond the impasse (open access)

Sara Cooper

The field of Global Mental Health has very quickly engendered a new institutional and research landscape, having recently established a number of its own research centres and training programmes. Under the banner of this field, there has also been an explosion of international research programmes and interventions which have received significant financial backing from a range of international donors, development agencies, and governments.1 In sum, Global Mental Health has increasingly captured the imagination of a wide range of stakeholders and has made major strides in establishing mental health as a priority within the global health arena. Indeed, a recent Google search for ‘Global Mental Health’ on 1 November 2009 identified approximately 62,300 related sites, of which over 85% of them were registered since 2008 (Patel & Prince,2010). This increasingly powerful field has, however, also elicited a range of critical responses, with growing controversy over its conceptualisations, goals and imagined outcomes (Campbell & Burgess, 2012; Kirmayer & Pedersen, 2014; Mills & Fernando, 2014).

Stigmatizing surveillance: blood-borne pathogen protocol and the dangerous doctor

Valerie Webber, Janet Bartlett & Fern Brunger

HIV and hepatitis B and C are viruses that have been unduly set apart from other infectious diseases in terms of the symbolic pull they exert and the anxiety they produce. This is reflected in health care policy and protocol. Hospitals, health care regions and colleges of physicians and surgeons create guidelines and procedures that single out HIV or hepatitis B and C as requiring special attention.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.

Bioethics Blogs

In the Journals May 2016 Part I by Melanie Boeckmann

Following Anna’s post on current special issues, here are abstracts from this month’s journal outputs.

American Ethnologist

Skill and masculinity in Olympic weightlifting: Training cues and cultivated craziness in Georgia

Perry Sherouse

At the Georgian Weightlifting Federation in Tbilisi, Georgia, a mainstay of coaching is the training cue, a shouted word or phrase that coaches use to prompt weightlifters to perform in a certain psychological, physical, or technical way. In this practice, coaches cultivate and naturalize dimensions of physiology and psychology, aligning masculinity with animality, lack of restraint, and emotional surfeit, and femininity with gracefulness, control, and good technique. Although Olympic weightlifting remains stereotypically hypermasculine, coaches compliment female weightlifters’ technique as superior to men’s and train their athletes to integrate masculine “nature” and feminine “culture” in the expression of physical strength. In doing so, coaches do not instill fully formed subjectivities but manage embodied forms, using exclamatory cues to disaggregate the athlete into action, affect, and anatomy. 

“I am a radioactive mutant”: Emergent biological subjectivities at Kazakhstan’s Semipalatinsk Nuclear Test Site

Magdalena E. Stawskowski

The Semipalatinsk Nuclear Test Site in Kazakhstan was conceived as an experimental landscape where science, technology, Soviet Cold War militarism, and human biology intersected. As of 2015, thousands of people continue to live in rural communities in the immediate vicinity of this polluted landscape. Lacking good economic options, many of them claim to be “mutants” adapted to radiation, while outsiders see them as genetically tainted. In such a setting, how do post-Soviet social, political, and economic transformations operate with radioactivity to co-constitute a “mutant” subjectivity?

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.

Bioethics News

New Direction Urged to Improve Cancer Nanotechnology

March 3, 2016

(Nanotechnology Now) – Researchers involved in a national effort to develop cancer treatments that harness nanotechnology are recommending pivotal changes in the field because experiments with laboratory animals and efforts based on current assumptions about drug delivery have largely failed to translate into successful clinical results. The assessment was advanced in a perspective piece that appeared in the National Cancer Institute’s Cancer Nanotechnology Plan 2015, a 10-year roadmap concerning the use of nanotechnology to attack cancer.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.

Bioethics Blogs

Webinar Follow-Up: Identifying and Preventing Distress in Laboratory Animals

Recently, PRIM&R hosted a webinar titled Identifying and Preventing Distress in Laboratory Animals, which was presented by Mollie A. Bloomsmith, PhD, and Eric Hutchinson, DVM, DACLAM. Stress and distress can negatively impact the welfare of laboratory animals and have adverse consequences for research. Minimizing distress in animals is mandated by federal regulations and remains an […]

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.

Bioethics Blogs

#TBT – An August to Remember: Celebrating the Animal Welfare Act

By Angela Craig, DVM, lab animal veterinarian and institutional animal care and use committee (IACUC) member at the University of Minnesota

If you were to reflect on important events that occurred in 1966, a legal decision handed down that year had such impact as to influence the conduct of our society every day thereafter. History buffs may think I’m referring to the Supreme Court decision in the case of Miranda v. Arizona which protected the rights of the accused, and introduced the Miranda warning. While this was undeniably monumental and provided necessary protections within the criminal justice system, it was not the only important safeguard measure enacted that year. For animals, the critically significant Public Law 89-544 was signed into existence on August 24, 1966. It is more familiar to us as the Animal Welfare Act (AWA).

This original AWA responded to societal concerns about the treatment of animals, specifically defining how dogs, cats, and certain other animals would be procured, transported, and used for research, among other things. To this day, the AWA is the only federal law describing the requirements for how animals are to be treated in the United States of America; its enforcement falls to the United States Department of Agriculture. Given its critical importance in providing direction and protection for animals, it is no surprise that the AWA has changed over time to remain current with societal standards and to address new concerns as they arise.

The AWA has been amended seven times since 1966, with each change providing greater clarity of expectations and expansion of coverage.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.

Bioethics Blogs

Bioengineering: Big Potential in Tiny 3D Heart Chambers

Caption: Heart microchamber generated from human iPS cells; cardiomyocytes (red), myofibroblasts (green), cell nuclei (blue) 
Credit: Zhen Ma, University of California, Berkeley

The adult human heart is about the size of a large fist, divided into four chambers that beat in precise harmony about 100,000 times a day to circulate blood throughout the body. That’s a very dynamic system, and also a very challenging one to study in real-time in the lab. Understanding how the heart forms within developing human embryos is another formidable challenge. So, you can see why researchers are excited by the creation of tiny, 3D heart chambers with the ability to exist (see image above) and even beat (see video below) in a lab dish, or as scientists  say “in vitro.”

iPS heart cells video

Credit: Zhen Ma et al., Nature Communications

To achieve this feat, an NIH-funded team from University of California, Berkeley, and Gladstone Institute of Cardiovascular Disease, San Francisco turned to human induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cell technology. The resulting heart chambers may be miniscule—measuring no more than a couple of hair-widths across—but they hold huge potential for everything from improving understanding of cardiac development to speeding drug toxicity screening.

Let me remind you that iPS cells are derived from genetically reprogrammed skin cells or white blood cells and have the potential to develop into many different types of cells. Scientists have had the recipe for producing cardiac cells from iPS cells for some time. But, as researchers led by Zhen Ma, Kevin Healy, and Bruce Conklin show in the journal Nature Communications [1], it turns out that encouraging those cells to undergo a more complex process akin to early heart development requires not only the right chemistry, but also the right geometry.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.

Bioethics Blogs

From the Director: Shedding Light on Compassion Fatigue

By Elisa A. Hurley, PhD, executive director

PRIM&R is unique in the research ethics world, serving as we do both the human subjects research and animal care and use communities. And from this unique position, we often see bridges and links between work with animals and work with humans, whether it’s thinking about the translational impact research with animals has on understanding and treating human disease; identifying and addressing similarities in research oversight processes between human research protection and animal care and use programs; or recognizing parallels between the ethical concepts called into play in each domain – for example, risk/benefit analysis— and gleaning generalizable lessons from such commonalities.

I’ve recently been thinking about another bridge between humans and animals in the research world: compassion fatigue among the people who work with, care for, and oversee the welfare of laboratory animals. As a phenomenon, compassion fatigue is not limited to animal care and use—indeed, the topic is widely discussed in other caring professions (see for example, Compassion Fatigue: A Nurse’s Primer, this article from the Journal of Hospice and Palliative Nursing, or this Emergency Nurses’ Association Topic Brief)—but it is a predictable outcome of working with research animals.

For the purposes of this discussion, I define compassion fatigue as the unintended emotional distress, fatigue, or apathy that develops from caring for, investing in the wellbeing of, and bonding with, animals whose health or lives may be sacrificed for the good of discovery through research. Given the documented power of the human/animal bond, compassion fatigue can affect the well-being of highly skilled animal care and use professionals, and, ultimately, the care of the animals themselves.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.

Bioethics Blogs

The Evolution of Environmental Enrichment

By Amy Davis, JD, MPH

This post is a follow up to our May 27, 2014 post on the topic of environmental enrichment of animals in research settings. After that post was published, PRIM&R received a letter from Allyson J. Bennett, PhD, chair of the Committee on Animal Research and Ethics at the American Psychological Association (APA), and Sangeeta Panicker, PhD, director of research ethics at the APA, expressing their disapproval of our treatment of the topic (read the letter from Drs. Bennett and Panicker). In the spirit of transparency and respectful dialog, PRIM&R has written this second post, which we believe is a more considered treatment of an important and complex issue. We thank Drs. Bennett and Panicker for their feedback and for prompting us to take this second look.

There is no specific definition of “environmental enrichment.” (Mellen) It is a concept that has evolved and matured over the last 100 years at least, and is based on the idea that providing captive animals with more complex environments enhances their physical and mental health. (Adams, 2008)

It was in zoos where the earliest research occurred that spawned the evolution of environmental enrichment practices. The first zoos of the late 19th century were more like laboratories than places for public education and entertainment that we know today. Charles Darwin’s research spurred interest in studying animal species, which was most conveniently done in places where large collections of different animals could be enclosed, manipulated, and observed. (Young) The first steps toward environmental enrichment were taken to protect the physical health of these animals.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.

Bioethics Blogs

Do What You Enjoy Doing: An Interview with Alison Pohl

By Maeve Luthin, JD, professional development manager

Welcome to another installment of our featured member interviews where we introduce you to PRIM&R’s members—individuals who work to advance ethical research on a daily basis. Over the course of the past few months we have been shining a spotlight on members of the CIP and CPIA Councils. Please read on to learn more about their professional experiences, how membership helps connect them to a larger community, and what goes on behind-the-scenes in their lives!

Today we’d like to introduce you to Alison Pohl, research compliance monitor and IACUC coordinator at the University of Connecticut Health Center. 

Maeve Luthin (ML): When and why did you join the field?
Alison Pohl (AP): I came to the field by accident. I was working as a clinical laboratory scientist out in California when I heard about a job at a biotech company that wanted a California-licensed clinical laboratory scientist. It was the same work (clinical microbiology), only the “patients” were laboratory animals. It was a great job because it led me to get more and more involved with the regulatory aspects of using laboratory animals. When I moved back to Connecticut, I continued working on the regulatory side.

ML: What prompted your interest in joining the CPIA Council, and why did you agree to serve?
AP: I think it is really important to “give back” to your professional community. I believe in the CPIA examination, and I was in the first group that took the examination back in 2007. I was honored to be asked to serve on the CPIA Council and hope that I contribute to its mission.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.