Tag: nature

Bioethics Blogs

Treatment of Premature Ejaculation: Alleviating Sexual Dysfunction, Disease Mongering?

by Brian D. Earp / (@briandavidearp)

An interesting new paper, “Distress, Disease, Desire: Perspectives on the Medicalization of Premature Ejaculation,” has just been published online at the Journal of Medical Ethics.  According to the authors, Ylva Söderfeldt, Adam Droppe, and Tim Ohnhäuser, their aim is to “question the very concept of premature ejaculation and ask whether it in itself reproduces the same sexual norms that cause some to experience distress over ‘too quick’ ejaculations.” To prime the reader for their project, they begin with a familiar story:

a condition previously thought of as a variant within the normal range, as a personal shortcoming, or as a psychological issue is at a certain point cast as a medical problem. Diagnostic criteria and guidelines are (re-)formulated in ways that invent or widen the patient group and thus create or boost the market for the new drug.

Those involved in developing the criteria and the treatment are sometimes the same persons and, furthermore, cultivate close connections to the pharmaceutical companies profiting from the development.

Sufferers experience relief from personal guilt when they learn that their problem is a medical and treatable one, whereas critics call out the process as disease-mongering.

Something like this pattern has indeed played out time and time again – methylphenidate (Ritalin) for ADHD, sildenafil for erectile dysfunction, and more recently the development of flibanserin for “hypoactive sexual desire disorder” (see the excellent analysis by Antonie Meixel et al., “Hypoactive Sexual Desire Disorder: Inventing a Disease to Sell Low Libido” in a previous issue of JME).

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

Drinking From the Fire hose—New Orleans and IACUC 101

Greetings from the Big Easy! While New Orleans was apparently bestowed this moniker for its laid-back nature, in reality it’s just the opposite. This city is teeming with life and vibrancy.It seems like the perfect backdrop for PRIM&R’s 2017 IACUC Conference and my pre-conference workshop, IACUC101TM: The Basics. Like New Orleans, this day-long workshop had much to offer. One could say it was like drinking from a fire hose—there was an overflow of information, materials, and perspectivesin the best possible way.

The post Drinking From the Fire hose—New Orleans and IACUC 101 appeared first on Ampersand.

Source: Ampersand, the blog of PRIM&R.

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

Cool Videos: Making Multicolored Waves in Cell Biology

Bacteria are single-cell organisms that reproduce by dividing in half. Proteins within these cells organize themselves in a number of fascinating ways during this process, including a recently discovered mechanism that makes the mesmerizing pattern of waves, or oscillations, you see in this video. Produced when the protein MinE chases the protein MinD from one end of the cell to the other, such oscillations are thought to center the cell’s division machinery so that its two new “daughter cells” will be the same size.

To study these dynamic patterns in greater detail, Anthony Vecchiarelli purified MinD and MinE proteins from the bacterium Escherichia coli. Vecchiarelli, who at the time was a postdoc in Kiyoshi Mizuuchi’s intramural lab at NIH’s National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), labeled the proteins with fluorescent markers and placed them on a synthetic membrane, where their movements were then visualized by total internal reflection fluorescence microscopy. The proteins self-organized and generated dynamic spirals of waves: MinD (blue, left); MinE (red, right); and both MinD and MinE (purple, center) [1].

Dissecting how such patterns form outside of the cell is helping to unravel the oscillatory mechanism used inside the cell. While E. coli was the model used to produce this video—a recent winner in the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology’s BioArt contest, many other microbes have similar proteins.

Vecchiarelli, Mizuuchi, and their colleagues have gone on to uncover what they think are the foundational principles governing this dynamic pattern of protein self-organization that appears to regulate positioning spatially during bacterial cell division [2].

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

7th Annual Western Michigan University Medical Humanities Conference

The Western Michigan University Medical Humanities Workgroup and the WMU Homer Stryker MD School of Medicine Program in Medical Ethics, Humanities & Law is proud to announce the 7th Annual Western Michigan University Medical Humanities Conference


September 14-15, 2017

Kalamazoo, Michigan


Overview:  Proponents of medical humanities contend that the humanistic dimensions of medicine and health are a critical component of those disciplines; not only do these dimensions help us to understand the very nature of medicine and health, their apprehension allows caregivers to relate to their patients, to treat those patients with respect and dignity, and to provide more holistic and empathetic care. 



The 7th Annual Western Michigan University Medical Humanities Conference is committed to the creative, dynamic, interdisciplinary explorations of the range of themes within the broad theme of medical humanities. This highly interdisciplinary conference draws participants from a wide range of backgrounds, including those from academic, creative, and medical communities.



Keynotes: This year’s conference Keynote speakers will be Dr. Jay Baruch and Professor Katie Watson.



AbstractsAbstracts will be considered in the following categories:

  • Oral Presentations: 20 minute presentations by one or two authors
  • Panel discussions: 60 minute presentations by a panel of speakers (generally 3-5). Panel discussions are expected to be interdisciplinary and explore a single topic from multiple perspectives.
  • Workshops: 60-90 minute presentations with a focus on audience interaction and the creation of some artwork. Previous successful workshops have included mentored drawing, poetry writing, performance dance, etc.
  • Posters/Visual Arts: Displays of visual arts, and performances (including dance, musical, theatre, etc.) are welcome.

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

What is Feminist Neuroethics About?

By Ben Wills

Ben Wills studied Cognitive Science at Vassar College, where his thesis examined cognitive neuroscience research on the self. He is currently a legal assistant at a Portland, Oregon law firm, where he continues to hone his interests at the intersections of brain, law, and society.
As the boundaries of what may be considered “neuroethics” extend with the development of new kinds of technologies and the evolving interests of scholars, its branches encounter substantial structures of adjacent scholarship. “Feminist neuroethics” is a multidimensional construct and a name that can be afforded both to approaches that fall within the bounds of mainstream neuroethics and metatheoretical challenges to the scope and lines of debate within neuroethics. While acknowledging that scholarship at the intersections of academic feminism/gender studies, feminist science studies, ethics, and neuroscience is much more substantial and diverse than I’m considering here, my modest aim in this post is to highlight how the label “feminist neuroethics” has been used to look at what scholars consider important for neuroethics. In so doing we can see what scholars in these fields see as worth highlighting when identifying their work as such.

The phrase “feminist neuroethics” is young, first used (to my knowledge) in peer-reviewed literature by philosopher Peggy DesAutels in her 2010 article on “Sex differences and neuroethics,” published in Philosophical Psychology (though see Chalfin, Murphy, & Karkazis, 2008 for a close antecedent). She writes that, having found herself considering the ethics of neuroscience, the neuroscience of ethics, and sex/gender differences, her “overlapping approach could neatly be summarized as feminist neuroethics” (p.

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

Perspectives on Responding to Addiction

Christopher Caldwell has an essay in the April issue of First Things titled “American Carnage: The New Landscape of Opioid Addiction.” In this piece, Caldwell traces the history of opiate and opioid use and abuse in the United States and describes the shocking scope of the addiction crisis in America today. He then criticizes the societal shift in thinking about addiction from a moral to a therapeutic model, demonstrated in a new vocabulary of addiction that favors terms such as “negative drug test” over a “clean urine sample” and “unsuccessful suicide” over “attempted suicide.”  While Caldwell does not discount the medical aspect of addiction, he argues that ignoring moral and spiritual dimensions “belittles” those with addictions.

Matthew Loftus responds to Caldwell’s essay on the Mere Orthodoxy blog with his post, “Addiction: The Devil You Can Measure and the Devil You Can’t.” Loftus affirms much of Caldwell’s argument, but cautions for moderation in discussing the medical versus moral aspects of addiction, fighting reductionism in either direction. He concludes, “More Christian primary care doctors should start prescribing buprenorphine and more secular addictions counselors need to recognize that they are not battling flesh and blood alone. To respond to an epidemic of this magnitude, we are going to need every weapon we’ve got.”

Discussions of this nature are crucial as we deal with the worst drug crisis in our country’s history. Doctors, counselors, pastors, and family members will have to grapple with the social, medical, moral, and spiritual aspects of addiction in order to provide the best help possible to treat and prevent opioid addiction in our communities.

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

Research Ethics Roundup: New Informed Consent Models, Animal Behavior and Neuroscience, FDA’s Safety Record, New Science Journalism Infographic

This week’s Research Ethics Roundup covers experts’ views on the future of informed consent, why neuroscientists are not studying animals’ natural behavior, Food and Drug Administration (FDA)’s defenders highlight its success record, and Nature reacts to a science journalism infographic.

The post Research Ethics Roundup: New Informed Consent Models, Animal Behavior and Neuroscience, FDA’s Safety Record, New Science Journalism Infographic appeared first on Ampersand.

Source: Ampersand, the blog of PRIM&R.

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 Trials of Patient O

By: Jennifer Cohen

In 1987, Harry Reasoner of 60 Minutes questioned Dr. Selma Dritz about her search in the early 1980s for the origins of the deadly outbreak of AIDS in the United States. “It was the whodunit of the century, and I was born nosy,” she tells him. The title of the 60 Minutes piece was “Patient Zero” who Mr. Reasoner explains “was a man – a central victim and victimizer” in the spread of AIDS.  Dr. Dritz, who had been the head of infectious diseases in the San Francisco branch of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), recalled warning Patient Zero of the danger he posed to others. In her retelling, Mr. Dugas callously rebuffed her concerns, showed little remorse for infecting others, and concluded their interaction with “screw you.” Also interviewed was Randy Shilts whose book, And the Band Played On, identified Patient Zero as Gaëtan Dugas, a Canadian flight attendant. Mr. Shilts explained that Mr. Dugas constituted what epidemiologists today call a superspreader – someone with unlimited ability to infect others and “speed this disease into every corner of America.”  The narrative of a villainous foreigner maliciously spreading a deadly epidemic culminated in an infamous New York Post headline condemning Mr. Dugas as “THE MAN WHO GAVE US AIDS.”

The story unraveled upon closer inspection.  In 1984, the CDC had indeed identified a “Patient O” who had sexual connections with other AIDS patients, but the “O” stood for “Outside” California. Nowhere in the study is “Patient O” identified as “Patient Zero” — i.e., the person who introduced the virus in America.

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

PART II: MY LOVE AFFAIR WITH THE BRAIN Bioethics and Meaning Derived from Science

Catherine Ryan and Gary Weinberg’s documentary film MY LOVE AFFAIR WITH THE BRAIN shows Dr. Marian Cleeves Diamond, PhD is not only a theoretical scientist but also an applied one. The Nuremberg Code—the rules for research conduct arising from the Nuremberg trials—has ten points. The second of those ten is that: Experiments should be such as to yield fruitful results for the good of society, unprocurable by other methods or means of study, and not random and unnecessary in nature. Dr. Diamond’s scientific integrity at the work bench has yielded a change in how we view human capacity. 

Luna Productions film shows a field clinic on brain growth, Diamond’s project, Enrichment in Action. It uses findings of the doctor’s brain enrichment research to directly benefit impoverished, orphaned children. In Cambodia a group of children are provided with an environment fortified with supplementary vitamins, language skills, computer lessons, and promotion of the children’s wider social acceptance. She has been facilitating, watching and documenting those children’s growth over years. 

There are multiple other clinical applications to the insights of brain malleability derived from Marian Diamond’s work. In the not too distant past, medical students were routinely taught that only a tenth of the cerebral cortex (the heaviest part of the brain) was actively used. The implication was that if brain cells were lost that portion of the brain’s function was permanently diminished. The observation that nurture, as well as abuse, can alter brain function through structural change—is among neuroanatomist Marian Diamond’s major contributions to scientific history. That truth defines a choice to be made, by humanity, about how we can proceed, as individuals and a group.

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

PART II: MY LOVE AFFAIR WITH THE BRAIN Bioethics and Meaning Derived from Science

Catherine Ryan and Gary Weinberg’s documentary film MY LOVE AFFAIR WITH THE BRAIN shows Dr. Marian Cleeves Diamond, PhD is not only a theoretical scientist but also an applied one. The Nuremberg Code—the rules for research conduct arising from the Nuremberg trials—has ten points. The second of those ten is that: Experiments should be such as to yield fruitful results for the good of society, unprocurable by other methods or means of study, and not random and unnecessary in nature. Dr. Diamond’s scientific integrity at the work bench has yielded a change in how we view human capacity. 

Luna Productions film shows a field clinic on brain growth, Diamond’s project, Enrichment in Action. It uses findings of the doctor’s brain enrichment research to directly benefit impoverished, orphaned children. In Cambodia a group of children are provided with an environment fortified with supplementary vitamins, language skills, computer lessons, and promotion of the children’s wider social acceptance. She has been facilitating, watching and documenting those children’s growth over years. 

There are multiple other clinical applications to the insights of brain malleability derived from Marian Diamond’s work. In the not too distant past, medical students were routinely taught that only a tenth of the cerebral cortex (the heaviest part of the brain) was actively used. The implication was that if brain cells were lost that portion of the brain’s function was permanently diminished. The observation that nurture, as well as abuse, can alter brain function through structural change—is among neuroanatomist Marian Diamond’s major contributions to scientific history. That truth defines a choice to be made, by humanity, about how we can proceed, as individuals and a group.

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.