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Bioethics Blogs

In the Journals – August 2017 by Livia Garofalo

Here is the article round-up for August, put together in collaboration with Ann Marie Thornburg.  There is a special issue section of Social Science and Medicine out this month on Austerity, Health, and Wellbeing (abstracts below). Also of note is a recent ‘Takes a Stand’ statement on the End of AIDS published in Global Public Health by Nora Kenworthy, Richard Parker, and Matthew Thomann. You can take advantage of the article being temporarily free access and on early view here. Enjoy!

 

Cultural Anthropology (Open Access)

Tangles of Care: Killing Goats to Save Tortoises on the Galápagos Islands

Paolo Bocci

If calls to care for other species multiply in a time of global and local environmental crisis, this article demonstrates that caring practices are not always as benevolent or irenic as imagined. To save endemic tortoises from the menace of extinction, Proyecto Isabela killed more than two hundred thousand goats on the Galápagos Islands in the largest mammal eradication campaign in the world. While anthropologists have looked at human engagements with unwanted species as habitual and even pleasurable, I discuss an exceptional intervention that was ethically inflected toward saving an endemic species, yet also controversial and distressing. Exploring eradication’s biological, ecological, and political implications and discussing opposing practices of care for goats among residents, I move past the recognition that humans live in a multispecies world and point to the contentious nature of living with nonhuman others. I go on to argue that realizing competing forms of care may help conservation measures—and, indeed, life in the Anthropocene—to move beyond the logic of success and failure toward an open-ended commitment to the more-than-human.

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

Beginning Your Medical Journey: Advice for First-Year Students

By Steve Goldstein

On August 19, 2017, I offered the keynote address at the Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine Class of 2021 White Coat Ceremony.  It was an honor to address this class, my first as dean.  I had welcomed the students during orientation when they were absorbing a great deal—rules, responsibilities, schedules, safety, organization– and met with them during discussions of a book we all read recounting the rich, complex career of pediatrician– events when they were in a focused, serious mood.  This day, however, the student’s were with their families and excited, bolstered by well-deserved pride, and filled with the shared mission of improving the world through the practice of medicine.  Below are the thoughts I shared in my address to the class as they began their formal training as first-year medical students…

Family, friends, alumni, faculty, and staff, I welcome you to the 2017 Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine White Coat Ceremony.  Class of 2021, I welcome you to the beginning of your careers in medicine.  I am delighted to be with you today.

As the students already know, the Class of 2021 is my first as dean– so, we begin this journey together.

You also know that I am a pediatrician, so you will forgive me if I continue to offer some practical guidance as I did last week– based on 40 years of experience since I sat where you are now:

Lesson one: no one is born an adult.
The corollary is this: no physician begins by being fully trained.

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

Orkideh Behrouzan’s Prozak Diaries: Psychiatry and Generational Memory in Iran by Dina Omar

Prozak Diaries: Psychiatry and Generational Memory in Iran

Orkideh Behrouzan

Stanford University Press, 2016, 328 pages

 

Orkideh Behrouzan’s first ethnographic endeavor, Prozak Diaries (2016), explores a question that has provoked much interest in the Middle East in recent years: what’s with all the talk about depression nowadays? The influence of Western clinical psychiatry seems to traverse language: the Farsi word afsordegi, for example, is often substituted by ‘depreshen.’ Prozak Dairies is a multifaceted exploration of the pervasiveness of depreshen talk, or the use of psychiatric language more generally, in Iranian society. The main thrust of Prozak Diaries considers the extent to which modern clinical psychiatric language has become vernacular—gradually normalized within Iranian popular culture and public discourse and co-constitutive with trends in psychiatric treatments and scholarly debates. Behrouzan identifies depreshen, as well as other psychopathologies such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), as diagnoses that have grown in popularity over the past three decades. She then follows the many elusive manifestations of psychiatric discourses and therapeutic practices amongst Iranians. Behrouzan asks questions that are not only relevant to Iranians but which also reflect global trends pertaining to increased rates of prescribing and consuming psycho-pharmaceuticals, an adoption of American clinical language, and an acceptance of an agenda standardized by American pharmaceutical companies. How, she asks, has the normalization of the psychiatric vernacular engendered new ways “of knowing, interpreting, and perceiving oneself in the world?” How might the contemporary psychiatric vernacular open up new ways of expressing mental or emotional conditions in Iran?

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

The FDA Is Cracking Down on the Doctor Marketing 3-Parent Babies

John Zhang, a New York fertility doctor, wanted to push the boundaries of science and fertility by giving women at risk of passing on serious genetic conditions a chance at healthy kids through an IVF technique that uses the DNA of three people

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

Web Round Up: Time to Chill? Egg Freezing and Beyond by Moira Kyweluk

A focus on age-related fertility decline, and exploration of ways to expand the timeline and options for biological parenthood have been consistent cultural and web-wide fixations. The $3 billion United States fertility industry was in the headlines once again this month including coverage of the launch of Future Family, a service offering  a “fertility age test” to women and negotiated-rate infertility medical care, alongside newly published research on ovarian tissue preservation, an alternative to oocyte cryopreservation or “egg freezing”, both procedures aimed at potentially extending a woman’s fertility window.

In the wake of findings presented in July 2017 at the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology conference in Geneva, Switzerland by Marcia Inhorn, Professor of Anthropology and International Affairs at Yale University, popular media headlines blared:  “Why are women freezing their eggs? Because of the lack of eligible men”  and “Women who freeze their eggs aren’t doing it for career reasons.” The study analyzed interviews from 150 women in their late 30s and early 40s who opted for egg freezing in Israel and the United States. Results “show that women were not intentionally postponing childbearing for educational or career reasons, as is often assumed in media coverage of this phenomenon, but rather preserving their remaining fertility because they did not have partners to create a family with. The researchers conclude that women see egg freezing as ‘a technological concession to the man deficit’, using it to ‘buy time’ while continuing their search for a suitable partner to father their children.”

The American Society of Reproductive Medicine, the regulatory board that governs the safe and ethical use of fertility technologies, reclassified egg-freezing technology from “experimental” to standard-of-care in 2012.

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

Things Which Have Once Been Conjoined: Science Fiction, Contagion, and Magic in the Age of Social Media by Samuel Gerald Collins

There are many interesting formations that might be called networked phenomena. Homophily and the tendency towards triad closure. Scott Feld’s Rule (I’m more likely to make friends with someone who has more friends than me). Small world phenomena (those 6 degrees of separation). “The Strength of Weak Ties” (reportedly the most cited sociology paper in history). In all, a series of social forms that complicates typical binarisms like individual versus group.

All of these have their positive and negative sides, but few networked phenomena have been met with more ambivalence than that of contagion, the idea that things (memes, viral videos, fashion) spread from person to person in a way that is similar to an epidemic; that is, people believe certain things or participate in certain behaviors without necessarily having “decided” to do so. Instead, the chances of “contracting” an idea, a fashion, or a new technology come down to the structural position in a network—a question, for example, of k-threshold models, where the chance of contagion depends upon the topology of connections vis-à-vis other infected nodes.

Given its identification with epidemiological contagion, it is not surprising that social contagion brings with it a negative valence, conjuring up fears of loss of autonomy, of being reduced to “hosts” for the “viral” propagation of information in a network. Contagion is at the heart of the fear and fascination of the zombie. It is also part of the latest panic in politics, one that centers on a vision of an electorate easily manipulated through fake news propagated through social media.

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

The Role of Plant-Based, Meatless Meats In Sustainable Diets

July 27, 2017

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The two American companies are not the first to create innovative alternative proteins (known as APs, such as tofu), meat analogues, or imitation meat (e.g. veggie burgers, tofurkey). Other start-ups such as Memphis Meats and Mosa Meats are creating animal-based cell-cultured meats. But Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods are the first start-ups to market their non-meat products to meat eaters (or “lovers,”), not vegetarians or vegans. The companies excel at targeted marketing: meatless meats bring to mind foods with all the sensory and nutritional benefits of meat without any of its environmental or health harms – but meatless meats are simply rebranded, repackaged, and reimagined meat analogues. After all, their products contain plants, just like veggie burgers. The difference in terminology between meatless meats and meat analogues or imitation meat is primarily in intended audience – not in substance.

Beets are the secret to Beyond Burger’s bleeding patty, while the “magic” ingredient that simulates sizzling fat in the Impossible Burger is genetically-modified plant-based heme, an iron-compound found in most animal muscles. The long-term health and nutrition impacts of meatless meat are not yet fully known. However, both the Beyond and Impossible Burger burgers contain 20 grams of plant protein per serving, relatively equivalent to one beef patty. Compared to normal burgers, these patties have significantly more calories (40-50 kcal per serving more) and sodium (about six times as much). The difference between beef and vegetable fats is also striking – the Impossible Burger has 15 grams of saturated fat (triple that of a beef burger) – and may contribute to any taste differential noticed by a serious meat eater(link is external).

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

Call for HCEC Certification Commission Members

In Spring 2017, ASBH successfully completed market research and a role delineation survey, which are critical steps in the development of a sustainable and credible certification program. In July 2017, the ASBH board agreed to appoint an HCEC Certification Commission with responsibility for the development and administration of a certification program. 


For appointment to the Commission, ASBH seeks 3-5 clinical ethics consultants who reflect the interests of the general public in the availability and implementation of an HCEC credential and are representative of the stakeholder groups, including community hospitals and regional health systems, that have an interest in the quality, governance, and operation of the certification program. (The ASBH board will also appoint one member who represents the public or non-employer consumer interest.) The Commission is expected to meet face-to-face for at least one and possibly two 1-2 day meetings and 2-3 conference calls in the coming year.


Appointments will be for initial 1-year terms that may be renewed for a total of no more than 3 years of continuous service. In its first year, the commission will develop a detailed marketing plan and budget; select a testing company; initiate a call for volunteers and select item (exam question) writers for an entry-level exam based on the role delineation study; determine eligibility criteria and develop policies and procedures; and plan for the administration of the first exam. For this purpose, ASBH seeks clinical ethics consultants with relevant experience in governance, program management, and/or marketing. 


ASBH members who are interested in being considered for this work are invited to send
1.

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

Texas Governor Greg Abbott Authorizes Use of Experimental Stem Cell Therapies

The government of Texas has passed a bill permitting clinics statewide to use experimental stem cell therapies on select chronically and terminally ill patients. Signed by Governor Greg Abbott, the legislation is akin to the “right to try” laws that have emerged in other states, and sidesteps FDA regulations that prohibit the marketing of unapproved therapies. A possible alternative to approved treatment methods, the law particularly signals hope for patients for whom traditional options are failing or unviable.

Stem cell treatments involve the extraction of stem cells from adult tissues, and their subsequent therapeutic use on patients. Under the new law, the treatment method must be prescribed and administered by a physician, delivered at a hospital or medical center, and overseen by an institutional review board (IRB). Only therapies that have already been tested in human clinical trials are affected by the bill’s expansive permissions.

The contentious legislation has been celebrated by some patient advocates, but condemned by certain leading bioethicists, among them, Ph.D. of  University.

The post Texas Governor Greg Abbott Authorizes Use of Experimental Stem Cell Therapies appeared first on Global Bioethics Initiative (GBI).

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

Mental Privacy in the Age of Big Data

By Jessie Ginsberg
Jessie Ginsberg is a second year student in the Master of Arts in Bioethics program and a third year law student at Emory University. 

A father stood at the door of his local Minneapolis Target, fuming, and demanding to speak to the store manager. Holding coupons for maternity clothes and nursing furniture in front of the manager, the father exclaimed, “My daughter got this in the mail! She’s still in high school, and you’re sending her coupons for baby clothes and cribs? Are you trying to encourage her to get pregnant?”
Target was not trying to get her pregnant. Unbeknownst to the father, his daughter was due in August.  
In his February 16, 2012 New York Times article entitled, “How Companies Learn Your Secrets,” Charles Duhigg reported on this Minneapolis father and daughter and how companies like Target use marketing analytics teams to develop algorithms to anticipate consumers’ current and future needs. Accumulating data from prior purchases, coupon use, surveys submitted, emails from Target that were opened, and demographics, a team of analysts render each consumer’s decision patterns into neatly packaged data sets tailored to predict their future buying choices. 

Flash forward to 2017, a time where online stores like Amazon dominate the market and cell phones are reservoirs of personal information, storing intimate details ranging from your location to your desired body weight to your mood. Furthermore, data analysis algorithms are more sophisticated than ever before, gobbling up volumes of information to generate highly specific and precise profiles of current and potential consumers.

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.