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Bioethics Blogs

More than Local Arrangements: How Conference Logistics Can Speak to Values by Sarah Pickman

In the fall of 2016, my colleagues Tess Lanzarotta, Marco Ramos, and I met as the core organizers for the “Critical Histories, Activist Futures” conference to hammer out our individual roles. We decided that I would take on the role of head of local arrangements, managing all of the practical logistics for the conference: food, room reservations, registration, etc. “Local arrangements” is, at first glance, a series of crucial but unsexy grunt work tasks. Perhaps, at this very moment, images from your own past of stacking folding chairs and wrestling with projector cords are beginning to swirl in your head at the mention of this phrase. Before you roll your eyes and click away, let me try to convince you that local arrangements can be a productive space to think about what an academic conference looks like and who it is for, as well as to grapple with the limits of the conference as a model for academic discourse.

I embraced the role initially because I do feel strongly that in order for an event to achieve its objectives, the mundane aspects must be taken care of and must run as seamlessly as possible. Prior experience organizing events has taught me that no matter how interesting and well-presented a symposium or lecture’s content is, if there is not enough food served afterwards or the room is very cold that’s all anyone will talk about. This is to say nothing of my own personal experience as a graduate student, scooping up free sandwiches at events and watching my professors race each other to the coffee dispenser during break times.

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

Companies Rush to Develop ‘Utterly Transformative’ Gene Therapies

July 24, 2017

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Companies and universities are racing to develop these new therapies, which re-engineer and turbocharge millions of a patient’s own immune cells, turning them into cancer killers that researchers call a “living drug.” One of the big goals now is to get them to work for many other cancers, including those of the breast, prostate, ovary, lung and pancreas.

“This has been utterly transformative in blood cancers,” said Dr. Stephan Grupp, director of the cancer immunotherapy program at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, a professor of pediatrics at the University of Pennsylvania and a leader of major studies. “If it can start to work in solid tumors, it will be utterly transformative for the whole field.”

But it will take time to find that out, he said, at least five years.

… Read More

Image: By NIAID/NIH – NIAID Flickr’s photostream, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=18233598

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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

Living with Moral Disagreement: Activism, Advocacy, and Interaction

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This May, the Center for Ethics Education at Fordham University oversaw it seventh successful installment of installment of Theories and Applications in Contemporary Ethics. The theme of this year’s intensive ethics workshop was Living with Moral Disagreement: Activism, Advocacy, and Interaction. In this course, students from Fordham University and around the world engaged with faculty members from six disciplines on how to live in a world with a vast and deep moral disagreement

The Center brought together Michael Baur, PhD on Law, Melissa Labonte, PhD on Political Science, Charlie Camosy, PhD on Theology, Orit Avashai, PhD on Sociology, Gwenyth Jackaway, PhD on Communication and, the Center’s new Director of Academic Programs, Bryan Pilkington, PhD on Philosophy. From each of these distinct perspectives, the faculty engaged with students on topics about which we deeply disagree, including rights to healthcare, religious and legal exemptions around the concept of death and female genital mutilation or cutting. The conversation was lively, practical and steeped in the deep theoretical commitments.

The Center was pleased to have Lerato Molefe as a participant in this workshop, thanks to the Fordham/Santander Universities International Scholarship in Ethics Education. Lerato Molefe visited Fordham from Johannesburg, South Africa where she is the founding and managing director of Naaya Consulting, a legal and strategy consulting firm for large and high growth organizations spanning a range of industries across the African continent. She has degrees from Harvard Law School, Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University and Smith College.


How to Apply for the International Santander Universities International Student Scholarships

For information on how to apply to the 2018 Workshop or Fordham University’s Master’s in Ethics and Society program, please visit our Santander Universities scholarship page.

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

Living with Moral Disagreement: Activism, Advocacy, and Interaction

Image via

This May, the Center for Ethics Education at Fordham University oversaw it seventh successful installment of installment of Theories and Applications in Contemporary Ethics. The theme of this year’s intensive ethics workshop was Living with Moral Disagreement: Activism, Advocacy, and Interaction. In this course, students from Fordham University and around the world engaged with faculty members from six disciplines on how to live in a world with a vast and deep moral disagreement

The Center brought together Michael Baur, PhD on Law, Melissa Labonte, PhD on Political Science, Charlie Camosy, PhD on Theology, Orit Avashai, PhD on Sociology, Gwenyth Jackaway, PhD on Communication and, the Center’s new Director of Academic Programs, Bryan Pilkington, PhD on Philosophy. From each of these distinct perspectives, the faculty engaged with students on topics about which we deeply disagree, including rights to healthcare, religious and legal exemptions around the concept of death and female genital mutilation or cutting. The conversation was lively, practical and steeped in the deep theoretical commitments.

The Center was pleased to have Lerato Molefe as a participant in this workshop, thanks to the Fordham/Santander Universities International Scholarship in Ethics Education. Lerato Molefe visited Fordham from Johannesburg, South Africa where she is the founding and managing director of Naaya Consulting, a legal and strategy consulting firm for large and high growth organizations spanning a range of industries across the African continent. She has degrees from Harvard Law School, Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University and Smith College.


How to Apply for the International Santander Universities International Student Scholarships

For information on how to apply to the 2018 Workshop or Fordham University’s Master’s in Ethics and Society program, please visit our Santander Universities scholarship page.

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

Book review: Traces of the Future: An Archaeology of Medical Science in Africa by Damien Droney

Traces of the Future: An Archaeology of Medical Science in Africa

Paul Wenzel Geissler, Guillaume Lachenal, John Manton, and Noémi Tousignant, editors

Intellect Ltd./University of Chicago Press, 2016, 256 pages, 500 color plates

 

The first reaction to an encounter with Traces of the Future: An Archaeology of Medical Science in Africa is likely to be a set of questions. Firstly, “what is it?” This 7×9” hardcover book, brimming with pleasingly displayed full-color photographic contributions by 18 authors, resembles a museum exhibit as much as it does a conventional academic volume. The contributing authors themselves describe it as a “sutured assemblage” (12) and a “fragmentary and idiosyncratic” (27) result of collaborative research presented in “a book-like package” (12).

Traces of the Future is the remarkable product of a long-term collaborative research project by a group of anthropologists, historians, and photographers. It examines the legacies of twentieth century biosciences in Africa in five historical sites of transnational medical science. Each of these sites manifested dreams of medical modernity and social progress characteristic of the twentieth century, dreams which are unevenly remembered in these sites today. The book is driven by the diverse research objects that it assembles. Beyond some rewarding orienting essays, the bulk of the book appears as a profusion of material. Each chapter includes an array of images, including fieldwork snapshots, archival documents, blueprints, manuscripts of musical scores, and unearthed beakers. These images are interspersed with timelines, interview transcripts, fieldnote excerpts, quotes from academic literature, and essays.

It also features haunting professional art photographs of Amani Hill Research Station by Evgenia Arbugaeva and Mariele Neudecker.

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

Not Just About Consent: The Ethical Dimensions of Research Methodology Knowledge in IRBs

Guest Post: Sarah Wieten

The recent article, “Some Social Scientists Are Tired of Asking for Permission” in the New York Times inspired a great deal of debate about the role of institutional research ethics board (IRB) oversight in social science, which some argue is in most cases unlikely to involve significant harm to participants.

While the role IRBs play in sociological research is being re-examined, the importance of IRB oversight for medical research was not similarly called into question. But what exactly does IRB oversight in medical research involve? Should these groups be content with assuring that patients and participants in medical research have provided informed consent? Or do they have wider duties? What is the relationship between methodologically rigorous science and ethical science?

The approval of research projects by IRBs is an integral part of the conduct of research in universities. IRBs ensure that all research follows key ethical guidelines and is pursued for good reason, and in doing so, they aim to keep patients and participants out of harm’s way. IRBs are important gatekeepers of institutional research, and serve as a check on the work of scientists, physicians, and others who are pursuing new knowledge.

We would assume then, that people serving on IRBs have a clear understanding of relevant research design. That way, they can check the research for ethical issues stemming from the methodology. They can also make sure that methodologically poor studies do not proceed, as this would be an unethical waste of resources (and would put participants at risk without a reasonable prospect of gaining reliable knowledge in exchange).

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

Schrag on Whitney, Balanced Ethics Review

The Oral History Review has posted my review of Simon Whitney’s 2016 book, Balanced Ethics Review: A Guide for Institutional Review Board Members. (I think that’s three distinct uses of “review,” right?)

[Zachary M. Schrag, “Balanced Ethics Review: A Guide for Institutional Review Board Members. By Simon N. Whitney,” Oral History Review, accessed May 30, 2017, doi:10.1093/ohr/ohx030.]

I note,

Whitney’s approach is basically utilitarian, arguing that the good research creates outweighs its harms. In this vein, he values social science research as the equivalent of medical research . . but what of research that, like much humanities research and a fair amount of social science, aims only to increase human knowledge?

I conclude:

As Whitney well understands, IRB members face considerable pressure to overregulate. The universities or medical schools in which they work may ask them to review research (including oral history) beyond the scope of regulations, or to protect institutions from lawsuits. They will learn that they themselves are far more likely to be sued for letting one controversial study (like SUPPORT) proceed than for needlessly impairing dozens of less risky projects. And if they do receive training from the dominant institutions, they are likely to hear that “efficiency itself is not a moral imperative or an ethical value” (25). Whitney pushes back against this pressure. His book is well crafted to promote its stated goal: balance.

Oxford University Press asks that I not post a link to a free-access version of the review here, but it does allow me to post that link on my personal website.

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

Where to publish and not to publish in bioethics – the 2017 list

Allegedly, there are over 8.000 so called predatory journals out there. Instead of supporting readers and science, these journals serve their own economic interests first and at best offer dubious merits for scholars. We believe that scholars working in any academic discipline have a professional interest and a responsibility to keep track of these journals. It is our job to warn the young or inexperienced of journals where a publication or editorship could be detrimental to their career and science is not served. We have seen “predatory” publishing take off in a big way and noticed how colleagues start to turn up in the pages of some of these journals. While many have assumed that this phenomenon mainly is a problem for low status universities, there are strong indications that predatory publishing is a part of a major trend towards the industrialization of misconduct and that it affects many top-flight research institutions (see Priyanka Pulla: “In India, elite institutes in shady journals”, Science 354(6319): 1511-1512). This trend, referred to by some as the dark side of publishing, needs to be reversed.

Gert Helgesson, Professor of Medical Ethics, Karolinska InstitutetThus we published this blog post in 2016. This is our first annual update (the previous version can be found here). At first, we relied heavily on the work of Jeffrey Beall, a librarian at the University of Colorado, who runs blacklists of “potential, possible, or probable” predatory publishers and journals. His lists have since been removed although they live on in new form (anonymous) at the Stop predatory journals site (SPJ) and they can also be found archived.

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

Bending the Odds: Pedagogy and Dialogue in Large Lecture Courses by Sandra Hyde

As academics in large public research universities, I am always amazed that when we speak of an ideal pedagogy, we speak about our small intimate seminars where we have the time and resources to experiment with 25 students or less. In my 13 years of teaching, I look forward to those settings when I get to teach one small undergraduate seminar a year. Over the years, I have also tried to make my large lecture hall shrink by trying to utilize different techniques to foster student based learning and most important, to create more interactive group problem solving and reduce the teacher as lord model of education. While this often works in small seminars, those wonderful nuggets of intimate interactive learning, I find it a challenge to accomplish this when I am in large lecture halls (over 200 students) with limited to graduate student teaching support.

In a large Introduction to Medical Anthropology course (what is called Anthropology 227 at McGill), I have worked over the years to integrate more student-interactive learning. I often compare teaching this course to managing a large ocean-liner with staff of different standing and students who are extremely eclectic as they are drawn from across campus from multiple faculties. For example, students in engineering and medicine will take the course as their one social science requirement and for others they find introduction to medical anthropology intriguing. Students in the humanities are also looking to take their one social science course. There are also medical practitioners and their allied health colleagues often nursing students returning to university to complete their BS.

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.