Yale’s Friday Newsletter – 09/21/12

Here’s (a somewhat abridged version of) this week’s newsletter from the Yale Interdisciplinary Center for Bioethics, with the latest bioethics news, scholarship, opinion, and other announcements.  Take a look!

  • Check out a new blog at the Hastings Center, written by and for people over 65 years of age. It’s called “Over 65,” and can be found here. Editors include Bioethics Center Executive Committee members Sherwin Nuland and Dan Callahan, as well as Jim Sabin from Harvard Medical School.
  • Speaking of the Hastings Center, you might want to watch their new webinar on personalized medicine, “Cracking Your Genetic Code,” which Hastings co-produced with NOVA. It’s available here.
  • And speaking of Jim Sabin, you might check out his “Healthcare Organizational Ethics” blog, here.
  • Check out Steve Latham’s newly re-vivified blog, “A Blog on Bioethics,” which you can find here. Steve is Director of the Yale Interdisciplinary Center for Bioethics, and will also be an occasional blogger here at Bill of Health – thanks for letting us post your “Frimail,” Steve!  
  • Finally, Carol Pollard, Associate Director of the Yale Center, has selected some great additional articles to check out.  Please click here.

Conferences & Off-Campus Events

CDC Webinar: Innovations in HIV Prevention for Gay and Bisexual Men

September 25, 2012 Time: 2:30p.m.-3:30p.m. Registration is required for this event.

To register click  https://cc.readytalk.com/cc/s/registrations/new?cid=7i8rr5wiboay

What are the latest HIV prevention activities and programs for gay and bisexual men? Do you know what efforts the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and partners are taking to curb the epidemic among gay and bisexual men? Are you wondering how these efforts will affect you? Here’s your opportunity to hear directly from CDC in its first ever live webinar in recognition of National Gay Men’s HIV/AIDS Awareness Day.CDC leaders will discuss innovative HIV prevention activities aimed at reducing HIV-related inequities among gay and bisexual men. Partners are invited to view and participate in the webinar.


Retaining HIV-infected Gay & Bisexual Men in Medical Care
Linda Beer, PhD
Epidemiologist, Behavioral & Clinical Surveillance Branch, DHAPVirginia Katherine Godesky, MPH, MSW
Health Scientist, HIV/AIDS Bureau, Health Resources and Services Administration

Are You PrEP’d for the Pill?
Dawn K. Smith, MD, MS, MPH
Biomedical Intervention Activity Lead, Epidemiology Branch, DHAP

A National Campaign for Black Gay and Bisexual Men
Nick Deluca, PhD
Branch Chief, Prevention Communication Branch, DHAPDavid Acosta
Coordinator of Prevention Programs / AIDS Activities Coordinating Office- Philadelphia Department of Public Health

Candid Conversations with Gay & Bisexual Men of Color
Kevin Fenton, MD, PhD, FFPH
Director, National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD, TB Prevention


Voluntarism, Advocacy, and Partnerships for Pediatric Surgery in Resource-Constrained Settings

Friday, September 28, 2012 9:00 AM – 12:00 PM

Jane Ellen Hope Building (JEH), Auditorium, 315 Cedar St., New Haven, CT 06510

Prof. Emmanuel Ameh will be the keynote for this symposium sponsored by the Section of Pediatric Surgery.  Symposium will include multidisciplinary presentations from local leaders in surgery and global health from general surgery, plastic surgery, anesthesiology, emergency medicine, and perioperative nursing.

Grants & Fellowships

Calls for Papers & Nominations

Global Perspectives on Public Health Ethics: A Casebook

The purpose of this call is to assemble a broad range of cases that highlight global perspectives on the ethical challenges of public health and approaches specifically designed for addressing these challenges. The cases will be used to explore differences and similarities in various cultural approaches to the application of ethics to the practice of public health.  Although the target audience for the casebook will be public health practitioners, the casebook format will make it useful for educators who wish to use it in classes or workshops on public health ethics.  The intent is to publish the casebook in an open access format so that it will be freely accessible to a wide audience. The due date for cases is January 1, 2013.  More information about the casebook and requirements for submitting a case can be found at the following link: http://www.cdc.gov/od/science/integrity/phethics/callforcases.htm

Employment Opportunities

Two Opportunities at Johns Hopkins Berman Institute of Bioethics

Research Program Coordinator: https://hrnt.jhu.edu/jhujobs/job_view.cfm?view_req_id=54258&view=sch

Project Specialist: https://hrnt.jhu.edu/jhujobs/job_view.cfm?view_req_id=54204&view=sch

In the News

Sack, Kevin. In Discarding of Kidneys, System Reveals Its Flaws. New York Times. 19 September 2012.

Last year, 4,720 people died while waiting for kidney transplants in the United States. And yet, as in each of the last five years, more than 2,600 kidneys were recovered from deceased donors and then discarded without being transplanted, government data show. Those organs typically wound up in a research laboratory or medical waste incinerator. Continue reading…

Food & Nutrition

Wal-Mart, Humana Reward Healthy Food Purchases. New York Times. 19 September 2012.

Wal-Mart Stores Inc, the world’s largest retailer, is joining with healthcare insurer Humana Inc to trim the cost of healthy foods for some customers. Continue reading…

Medical Ethics

Burton, Thomas M. Are Stroke Drugs Better Than Stents? Wall Street Journal. 18 September 2012.

Research that suggests prescription drugs are as good or better at preventing strokes than interventional procedures is prompting a range of leading doctors to recommend against carotid surgery and carotid stent implants in most patients who haven’t had stroke symptoms. Continue reading…

Dreaper, Jane. Locked-in man continues legal fight for ‘right to die.’ BBC. 20 September 2012.

The wife of a man whose legal challenge was heard alongside Tony Nicklinson’s has spoken of her husband’s determination to continue his fight. He wants professionals such as doctors to help him end his life, without them having the fear of prosecution.Continue reading…

Washington, Harriet.  Do You Really Want To Know Your Baby’s Genetics? Slate.  16 September 2012.

New prenatal testing will bring anxiety and dilemmas. Continue reading…

Public Health

Brown, Harriet. In ‘Obesity Paradox,’ Thinner May Mean Sicker. New York Times. 17 September 2012.

A few years ago, Mercedes Carnethon, a diabetes researcher at the Feinberg School of Medicine at Northwestern University, found herself pondering a conundrum. Obesity is the primary risk factor for Type 2 diabetes, yet sizable numbers of normal-weight people also develop the disease. Why? Continue reading…

Cowen, Tyler. World Hunger: The Problem Left Behind. New York Times. 15 September 2012.

The drought-induced run-up in corn prices is a reminder that we’re nowhere near solving the problem of feeding the world. The price surge, the third major international food price spike in the last five years, casts more doubt on the assumption that widespread economic development leads to corresponding gains in agriculture. Continue reading…


Sidhu, Jasmeet. How To Buy a Daughter.  Slate. 14 September 2012.

Choosing the sex of your baby has become a multimillion-dollar industry. Continue reading…

Gallagher, James. ‘Three people, one baby’ public consultation begins. BBC News. 16 September 2012.

A public consultation has been launched to discuss the ethics of using three people to create one baby.The technique could be used to prevent debilitating and fatal “mitochondrial” diseases, which are passed down only from mother to child. However, the resulting baby would contain genetic information from three people – two parents and a donor woman. Ministers could change the law to make the technique legal after the results of the consultation are known. Continue reading…


Stein, Rob. As Genetic Sequencing Spreads, Excitement, Worries Grow. NPR.

Ever since James Watson and Francis Crick cracked the genetic code, scientists have been fascinated by the possibilities of what we might learn from reading our genes. But the power of DNA has also long raised fears — such as those dramatized in the 1997 sci-fi film Gattaca, which depicted a world where “a minute drop of blood determines where you can work, who you should marry, what you’re capable of achieving.” Continue reading…

Fountain, Henry. A First: Organs Tailor-Made With Body’s Own Cells. New York Times. 15 September 2012.

Andemariam Beyene sat by the hospital window, the low Arctic sun on his face, and talked about the time he thought he would die. Two and a half years ago doctors in Iceland, where Mr. Beyene was studying to be an engineer, discovered a golf-ball-size tumor growing into his windpipe. Despite surgery and radiation, it kept growing. In the spring of 2011, when Mr. Beyene came to Sweden to see another doctor, he was practically out of options. “I was almost dead,” he said. “There was suffering. A lot of suffering.” Continue reading…

In the Journals

Rehmann-Sutter, Christoph; Rouven Porz and Jackie Leach Scully. How to Relate the Empirical to the Normative: Toward a Phenomenologically Informed Hermeneutic Approach to Bioethics Cambridge Quarterly of Healthcare Ethics. October 2012.

In doing ethics we are seeking clarity about situations of ethical difficulty. Sometimes direct practical advice is what we are looking for. This can be advice either for ourselves, for other people, or for the society we live in. Clarification and advice can concern moral issues (what somebody “ought” to do) or issues of aims and preferences (what somebody can desire). In bioethics, both perspectives matter. Complicated situations of decisionmaking in medicine, biological research, or biotechnology raise ethical questions that ideally should be clarified in such a way that the results prove helpful for those who are practically involved, for example, patients, professionals, scientists, supervisors, or regulators (for succinctness, in this article we call all of these “practitioners”). We call bioethics “normative” if it works toward recommendations that do not simply describe a field of practice but contain prescriptive elements that say something about what practitioners should do, why they should do so, what they could reasonably aim at, or how they can reach good decisions. Continue reading…

Eleftheriadis, Pavlos.  A Right to Health Care.  Journal of Law, Medicine, & Ethics.  Summer 2012.

What does it mean to say that there is a right to health care? Health care is part of a cooperative project that organizes finite resources. How are these resources to be distributed? This essay discusses three rival theories. The first two, a utilitarian theory and an interst theory, are both instrumental, in that they collapse rights to good states of affairs. A third theory, offered by Thomas Pogge, locates the question within an institutional legal context and distinguishes between a right to health care that results in claimable duties and other dimensions of health policy that do not. Pogge’s argument relies on a list of “basic needs,” which itself, however, relies on some kind of instrumental reasoning. The essay offers a reconstruction of Pogge’s argument to bring it in line with a political conception of a right to health care. Health is a matter of equal liberty and equal citizenship, given our common human vulnerability. If we are to live as equal members in a political community, then our institutions need to create processes by which we are protected from the kinds of suffering that would make it impossible for us to live as equal members. Continue reading…

Soto, Carlos. The Veil of Ignorance and Health Resource Allocation.  Journal of Medicine & Philosophy.  August 2012.

Some authors view the veil of ignorance as a preferred method for allocating resources because it imposes impartiality by stripping deliberators of knowledge of their personal identity. Using some prominent examples of such reasoning in the health care sector, I will argue for the following claims. First, choice behind a veil of ignorance often fails to provide clear guidance regarding resource allocation. Second, regardless of whether definite results could be derived from the veil, these results do not in themselves have important moral standing. This is partly because the veil does not determine which features are morally relevant for a given distributive problem. Third, even when we have settled the question of what features to count, choice behind a veil of ignorance arguably fails to take persons seriously. Ultimately, we do not need the veil to solve distributive problems, and we have good reason to appeal to some other distributive model. Continue reading…

Garland-Thomson, Rosemarie.  The Case for Conserving Disability.  Journal of Bioethical Inquiry.  July 2012.

It is commonly believed that disability disqualifies people from full participation in or recognition by society. This view is rooted in eugenic logic, which tells us that our world would be a better place if disability could be eliminated. In opposition to this position, I argue that that disability is inherent in the human condition and consider the bioethical question of why we might want to conserve rather than eliminate disability from our shared world. To do so, I draw together an eclectic, rather than systematic, configuration of counter-eugenic arguments for conserving disability. The idea of preserving intact, keeping alive, and even encouraging to flourish denoted by conserve suggests that disabilities would be better understood as benefits rather than deficits. I present, then, a reading of disability as a potentially generative resource rather than unequivocally restrictive liability. In other words, what I consider here is the cultural and material contributions disability offers to the world. Continue reading…


Ars Technica

Timmer. John. Why are we idiots at taking care of our health? September 20, 2012.

Faced with a risk of communicable diseases, humans tend to be very responsive, altering their behavior and taking preventative measures. There are well understood risk factors for things like Lyme disease and hantavirus, and many people have managed to change their habits to minimize risk. Faced with the risk of a noncommunicable disease, like cancer or heart disease, we don’t tend to do nearly as well, even when the risks are equally well understood. Continue reading…

Huffington Post

Koch, Tom. Bioethics: the failure of a bad idea. September 11, 2012.

Bioethicists are everywhere these days, commenting on abortion, euthanasia, and health policy. They people hospitals, major research centers, and advise governments. We need them, bioethicists tell us, because the old ethics of medicine won’t serve in the new world of advancing medical science and technology. They call that the “Georgetown Mantra,” the principle justification for their professional existence. Continue reading…

Information Week

Terry Ken. Facebook organ donation scheme fizzles. September 13, 2012.

As many as 100,000 Facebook users worldwide signed up to be organ donors last May when the social network added a feature that allowed people to link to organ donation registries. But the number of new donors generated by the Facebook announcement trailed off rapidly, according to a recent commentary in the Bioethics Forum, the blog of the Hastings Center Report. Continue reading…

New York Times

Letters to the Editor. Doubts about ovarian cancer screening. September 20, 2012.

As an advocate for women with ovarian cancer, I know that it is never easy to tell someone that screening for this disease does more harm than good (“Ovarian Cancer Screenings Have No Benefit, Panel Says, and Some Risks,” news article, Sept. 11). Yet that is what the evidence tells us and what the United States Preventive Services Task Force has confirmed. Continue reading…

Wasau Daily Herald

Bowman, Matthew. Abortion rights activists guilty of bait and switch. September 12, 2012.

It is an irony that the promoters of “reproductive choice” insist on coercing everyone else into paying for other people’s abortions and sexual decisions. Frances Kissling, founder of the misnamed “Catholics for Choice,” will appear opposite me on Monday at the University of Wisconsin Marathon County in Wausau to argue in favor of a government mandate that forces employers to violate their religious beliefs just because they operate in America. Continue reading…

The Petrie-Flom Center Staff

The Petrie-Flom Center staff often posts updates, announcements, and guests posts on behalf of others.

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