Yale Friday Newsletter – 11/16/12

Here’s this week’s edition of the Yale Friday Newsletter, slightly edited for our audience.  Enjoy!

Yale Interdisciplinary Center for Bioethics Director, Steve Latham, has a few things he’d like to bring to your attention this week:

  • On Thursday, November 29, we’ll be having our third public Animal Ethics Forum. Alexandra Horowitz, the Principal Investigator of the Dog Cognition Lab and a Term Assistant Professor at Columbia University’s Barnard College, will present on the topic of “(Mis)understanding Dogs.” The talk is open to the public, and will take place at 4:15 in room B012 of the ISPS building at 77 Prospect Street.
  • The Program in Biomedical Ethics at the Yale School of Medicine will host a talk by  Daniel Kevles, PhD, Stanley Woodward Professor of History and Professor of History of Medicine, American Studies and Law. Prof. Kevles will speak on “Perspectives on Eugenics,” from 5-6:30 in the Beaumont Room of the Sterling Hall of Medicine at 333 Cedar Street. Free registration for the event is requested.

And Associate Director, Carol Pollard, has some articles to share: click here.

Bioethics Center Events

Thursday, November 29 at 4:15 PM
Animal Ethics Forum
Location: 77 Prospect St, room B012
Speaker: Alexandra Horowitz, Principal Investigator, Dog Cognition Lab, and Term Assistant Professor, Barnard College, Columbia University
Topic: (Mis)understanding Dogs

This Fortnight on Campus

Tuesday, November 27

Biomedical Ethics Lecture

Time: 5 PM

Location: Beaumont Room, SHM L-221A, 333 Cedar St

Speaker: Daniel Kevles, PhD, Stanley Woodward Professor of History; Professor of History of Medicine, American Studies and Law

Topic: Perspectives on Eugenics

Thursday, November 29

Yale School of Public Health Dean’s Lecture

Time: 12 PM

Location: 60 College St, Winslow Auditorium

Speaker: Chris Beyrer, M.D., M.P.H., Professor of Epidemiology, International Health and Health, Behavior and Society at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health

Topic: The Global Epidemics of HIV among Men Who Have Sex with Men: Time for Action

Conferences & Off-Campus Events

New York Society for Women in Philosophy Panel on Reproductive Rights

December 7

The Graduate Center, CUNY, 365 Fifth Avenue, Rm 9207

Given the current political climate, we believe this is an important time for feminist philosophers to direct a critical eye at the issue of women’s reproductive rights. Please join us as Rebecca Kukla (Professor of Philosophy and Senior Research Scholar, Kennedy Institute of Ethics, Georgetown University) and Julie Zilberberg (Independent Scholar, CUNY Graduate Center PhD) address this issue in light of our current political climate. For more information visit: nyswip.tumblr.com. Or email us: Amy.Baehr@hofstra.edu

Rebecca Kukla (Professor of Philosophy and Senior Research Scholar, Kennedy Institute of Ethics, Georgetown University)

“Mandatory Fetal Ultrasound and the Politics of Visual Representation”

Julie Zilberberg (Independent Scholar, CUNY Graduate Center PhD)

“Sex Selection and Restricting Abortion and Sex Determination”

Sixth Annual Undergraduate Ethics Symposium

April 11-13, 2013

The Janet Prindle Institute for Ethics, DePauw University, Greencastle, Indiana

The Janet Prindle Institute for Ethics fosters interdisciplinary reflection on moral issues, including questions of justice and public policy, character, duty, and responsibility. In this our sixth year, we will again host the Undergraduate Ethics Symposium, designed to encourage undergraduate scholarship and artistic work. This symposium is an outstanding opportunity for student scholars, creative writers, filmmakers and photographers to discuss their ethics-related work with leading scholars and professionals in their fields and to participate in a significant discussion of ethical concerns. Although students may submit essays and creative projects on any issue, each year a theme is selected. This year’s theme is Environmental Ethics. The Institute welcomes works centered on ethics from all disciplines, including the humanities, social sciences, natural sciences and the arts. Examples of the types of works accepted in the past include: argumentative and analytic essays, creative writing, poetry, film, documentaries and photography.

Consisting of DePauw University faculty members, the selection committee for the Undergraduate Ethics Symposium will identify up to thirty works, whose authors will then be invited to the Institute for the three-day symposium, April 11 – 13, 2013. During the Symposium, these students will meet in seminars led by one of the distinguished visiting scholars or professionals, who will read the students’ works and facilitate discussion about them. The students’ travel (airfare or mileage at $.42 per mile up to $400), lodging, and meals while at DePauw will be covered by the Institute. The deadline for submissions is February 1, 2013. Verbal texts should be submitted in Microsoft Word format, not pdf. (N.B. Place your name and affiliation in a  eparate document, so that the works may be read anonymously.) The precise format of the visual entries may vary, but please note that all works must be submitted electronically, so that they may be transmitted easily to the faculty readers and other students. We would appreciate your submitting the written work in Chicago style. Student essayists (both scholarly and creative non-fiction) and student fiction writers should submit work which does not exceed 3,500 words. Student poets should submit 5-10 poems, not more than 10 pages total; student playwrights and screenwriters should submit a single dramatic work, up to 10 pages in length; film makers and documentarians should submit a single film, up to 10 minutes long; photographers should submit approximately 10 photographs or a video accompanied by a short description. Students whose works are accepted for the Symposium will be notified by March 1, 2013.

For further information, please see the Prindle Institute’s website at http://www.depauw.edu/academics/centers/prindle/ues/2013/ or contact Nicki Hewell, Graduate Fellow at elizabethhewell@depauw.edu or 765-658-5021.

Teaching Research Ethics
Twentieth Annual Workshop, May 14-17, 2013
Poynter Center for the Study of Ethics and American Institutions

The Poynter Center for the Study of Ethics and American Institutions will host the annual Teaching Research Ethics Workshop at the Indiana Memorial Union on the campus of Indiana University Bloomington, May 14-17, 2013. Session topics will include:

  • An Overview of Ethical Theory
  • Overview of Research Ethics
  • Trainee and Authorship Issues
  • Conflicts of Interest
  • Using Human Subjects in Clinical and Non-Clinical Research
  • Responsible Data Management

Many sessions will feature techniques for teaching and assessing the responsible conduct of research. In addition to plenary sessions, each participant selects an intensive track to meet with the same group twice and two different breakout sessions, which each meet once. Registration is $700 and includes most meals. Participants are responsible for travel and hotel accommodations. A block of room is available at the Indiana Memorial Union, the site of the workshop.  The workshop schedule, registration, and complete information are available at http://poynter.indiana.edu.

Grants & Fellowships

Lab Fellowships at the Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics 2013-2014

Four types of fellowships are open for the 2013-14 academic year.

1. Lab Fellowships and Projects: Funded residential and non-residential fellowships and projects for scholars and collaborators engaged in research and practice that directly address institutional corruption.

2. Applied Data Fellowship: A funded residential fellowship offered to a quantitative problem-solver who will translate the Lab’s research into applied tools, and help to deliver the Lab’s real-world impact on institutional corruption.

3. Investigative Journalists: Funded residential Lab fellowships for investigative journalists to write monographs about institutional corruption within selected institutions or fields.

4. Network Fellowships: Non-funded scholars working independently on projects related to institutional corruption.

Deadline is January 1, 2013. Email applications@ethics.harvard.edu for more information.

Calls for Papers & Nominations

Employment Opportunities

Healthcare Information & Technology (HIT) Lab is Seeking Research Fellow

HIT Lab is an independent cross-disciplinary public health research organization located on Columbia University’s Medical Center Campus. The Healthcare Technology Fellowship is designed to prepare developing public health, life science, and medical scholars at the doctoral or post-doctoral level for leadership roles in understanding and implementing information and communications technologies. The HIT Lab is currently seeking a Health Technology Fellow to write 15,000 word, 30 graphic, page paper related to mobile healthcare in the 21st century. The Healthcare Technology Fellow will apply a thematic analysis to while conducting interviews, performing secondary research, and using ATLAS.ti to determine quantitatively the key themes within the interviews. The ideal candidate should be able to work efficiently while being remote and on-site as required. Qualifications: Doctors of Philosophy or PhD candidates with a strong academic record; Should have at least 3 years of healthcare experience conducting primary research, and writing on healthcare related issues; Candidates must have the permanent right to work in the US or be a US citizen. Interested candidates should email their curriculum vitae, writing sample, blog or writing portfolio and contact information to:  hr@hitlab.org.

Assistant Director, Office of Research Integrity and Compliance, West Virginia University

The Office of Research Integrity and Compliance (ORIC) at West Virginia University is seeking an Assistant Director. This position will assist the Director in overseeing the WV Clinical and Translational Research Institute activities as they related to the ORIC; manage the human research protections and animal care and use work flow, protocols and processes; and supervise the ORIC staff and operations on a day-to-day basis. The position is also responsible for managing specific Electronic Research Administration processes and providing support for the Conflict of Interest in Research and Biosafety Committees and processes. Candidate must possess a Bachelor’s degree in biomedical, social/behavioral/education or engineering sciences with a master’s degree preferred. Candidate must have a minimum of four (4) years’ experience in research supervision and management, committee leadership; electronic research administration for compliance, and human research protections regulatory oversight and team management. Two (2) years’ experience is required in responsible conduct of research education and training and also conflict of interest in research oversight and management. Successful candidate will have budget experience, be able to prepare extensive reports on research laws and issues to various agencies, and a demonstrated ability to successfully manage employees. Review of applications will begin immediately and will continue until the position is filled. To apply please email a letter of application, resume, and contact information of three (3) professional references including phone numbers to:  http://employmentservices.hr.wvu.edu/wvu_jobs

In the News

Drugs & Pharmaceuticals

Cassidy, Bill and Patrick Cobb. Not Enough Cancer Drugs, Too Many Price Controls. Wall Street Journal. 11 November 2012.

Cancer patients face daunting challenges, including side effects of treatment, impact on family life and work disruptions. They now face another problem: shortages of vital drugs. Continue reading…

Painter, Kim. Southeast paying health price for high antibiotic use. USA Today. 13 November 2012.

Antibiotic use in the United States is dropping, but it is dropping most slowly in states that use the drugs the most – widening regional gaps that may be putting people in some Southeastern states at heightened risk for infections that no longer respond to antibiotics, a new analysis shows. Continue reading…


Brown, Patricia Leigh. The Problem is Clear: The Water is Filthy. New York Times. 13 November 2012.

Like most children, the students at Stone Corral Elementary School here rejoice when the bell rings for recess and delight in christening a classroom pet. But while growing up in this impoverished agricultural community of numbered roads and lush citrus orchards, young people have learned a harsh life lesson: “No tomes el agua!” — “Don’t drink the water!” Continue reading…

Health Care

Lazarus, David. Patient Trapped in Health Insurance Rate Hike. Los Angeles Times.

It’s understandable that car insurance rates can change when you move. One neighborhood might have more accidents or burglaries than another. But health insurance? Continue reading…

Power, Matthew. Far Rockaway: Global Disaster Zone. Outside. 8 November 2012.

International humanitarian-aid group Doctors Without Borders, best known for conducting emergency health care interventions in war-torn countries, set up a makeshift clinic for Hurricane Sandy victims in one of New York’s worst-hit communities to fill in the gaps in the government’s response. Matthew Power joined volunteer physicians for a day in the field during the group’s first operation on U.S. soil. Continue reading…

Law and Bioethics

Johnson, Carolyn. Assisted Suicide Measure Narrowly Defeated; Supporters Concede Defeat. Boston Globe. 7 November 2012.

A divisive ballot initiative that would allow terminally ill patients to end their lives with medication prescribed by physicians was narrowly defeated. The Death with Dignity Campaign conceded this morning, as unofficial results tallied by the Associated Press showed that, with 95 percent of precincts reporting, 51 percent of voters had opposed the measure, compared with 49 percent in favor. Continue reading…

Lichtblau, Eric and Sabrina Tavernise.  Friends in Congress Have Helped Drug Compounders Avoid Tighter Rules. New York Times. 13 November 2012.

Despite two decades of dire health warnings and threats of federal intervention, the specialty drugmakers at the center of the nation’s deadly meningitis outbreak have repeatedly staved off tougher federal oversight with the help of powerful allies in Congress. Continue reading…

Medical Ethics

Physicians Often Fail to Disclose Conflicts of Interest On Social Media. ScienceDaily. 12 November 2012.

As the use of Twitter and other social media by physicians and patients rises, more and more physicians seem to forget to do what many consider crucial for building doctor-patient trust: disclose potential conflicts of interest. However, physicians are not entirely at fault: prominent medical societies have failed to lay out comprehensive guidelines for physicians on when and how to disclose a conflict of interest when utilizing social media. Continue reading…

Rettner, Rachel. Leftover Newborn Blood Samples Need Better Regulation, Ethicists Say. Yahoo News. 8 November 2012.

The tiny spots of blood left after routine tests on newborns could provide valuable information for researchers, but clear policies that govern their use are needed so that the samples are not destroyed or otherwise lost entirely, experts say. Continue reading…

Organ Donation

Sack, Kevin. Hospitals Ordered to Do More to Protect Kidney Donors. New York Times. 13 November 2012.

Addressing long-held concerns about whether organ donors have adequate protections, the country’s transplant regulators acted late Monday to require that hospitals thoroughly inform living kidney donors of the risks they face, fully evaluate their medical and psychological suitability, and then track their health for two years after donation. Continue reading…

Research Ethics

Kaiser, Jocelyn. Largest U.S. Genetic Biobank Reveals Early Findings. Science. 9 November 2012.

Researchers who have assembled a trove of genetic and medical data on 100,000 northern Californians unveiled their initial findings here this week at the annual meeting of the American Society of Human Genetics (ASHG). The effort, which may be the largest such “biobank” in the United States, has already yielded an intriguing connection between mortality and telomeres, the protective DNA sequences that cap chromosome ends, and found new links between genetic variants and disease traits. Continue reading…


Hernandez, Daniela. Social Code: Sharing Your Genes Online. Wired. 9 November 2012.

Genes are going mobile. In September, consumer genomics company 23andMe announced it was opening its API, the program that allows other applications to interact with its data, for the first time. Since then, the Google-backed company has received more than 200 applications from developers. Continue reading…

Singer, Natasha. When a Palm Reader Knows More Than Your Life Line. New York Times. 10 November 2012.

No longer the province of security services and science-fiction films, biometric technology is on the march. But consumer advocates say that enterprises are increasingly employing biometric data to improve convenience — and that members of the public are paying for that convenience with their privacy. Continue reading…

In the Journals

Ascoli, Micol. The culture of care within psychiatric services: tackling inequities and improving clinical and organizational capacities. Philosophy, Ethics and Humanities in Medicine. September 2012.

Cultural Consultation is a clinical process that emerged from anthropological critiques of mental healthcare. It includes attention to therapeutic communication, research observations and research methods that capture cultural practices and narratives in mental healthcare. This essay describes the work of a Cultural Consultation Service (ToCCS) that improves service user outcomes by offering cultural consultation to mental health practitioners. The setting is a psychiatric service with complex and challenging work located in an ethnically diverse inner city urban area. Following a period of 18 months of cultural consultation, we gather the dominant narratives that emerged during our evaluation of our service. These narratives highlight how culture is conceptualized and acted upon in the day-to-day practices of individual health and social care professionals, specialist psychiatric teams and in care systems. The findings reveal common narratives and themes about culture, ethnicity, race and their perceived place and meaningfulness in clinical care. These narratives express underlying assumptions and covert rules for managing, and sometimes negating, dilemmas and difficulties when considering “culture” in the presentation and expression of mental distress. The narratives reveal an overall “culture of understanding cultural issues” and specific “cultures of care”. These emerged as necessary foci of intervention to improve service user outcomes. Understanding the cultures of care showed that clinical and managerial over-structuring of care prioritises organisational proficiency, but it leads to inflexibility. Consequently, the care provided is less personalised and less accommodating of cultural issues, therefore, professionals are unable to see or consider cultural influences in recovery. Continue reading…

Gysels, Marjolein. Culture is a Priority for Research in End-of-Life Care in Europe. Journal of Pain and Symptom Management. August 2012.
Culture has a profound influence on our understanding of what is appropriate care for patients at the end of life (EoL), but the evidence base is largely nonexistent. An international workshop was organized to compile a research agenda for cultural issues in EoL research, and assess challenges and implications of the integration of the culture concept in different contexts. Participant experts were identified from the expert network established through an Internet-based call for expertise on culture and EoL care and from meetings. The workshop comprised presentations of research priorities from country and disciplinary perspectives, and group discussions. Analysis used all data gathered in the workshop and applied standard qualitative techniques. Thirty experts participated in the workshop and identified the following priorities for cross-cultural research: 1) clarifying the concepts of culture and cultural competence; 2) defining EoL in a context of social and cultural diversity, with a focus on concepts of EoL care and bioethics, experiences of receiving and giving EoL care, and care practices in different settings; and 3) developing appropriate methodologies and outcome measurements that address diversity. This first pan-European meeting compiled a research agenda, identifying key areas for future research focusing on culture, diversity, and their operationalization. This requires international and multidisciplinary collaboration, which is necessary in the current efforts to synthesize best practices in EoL care. Continue reading…

Löfström, Erika. Students’ Ethical Awareness and Conceptions of Research Ethics. Ethics & Behavior. August 2012.

The study focused on university students’ understanding and conceptions of ethical issues in research. Domain-specific and domain-transcending measures were developed to gauge the students’ awareness of ethical issues. Responses were obtained from 269 undergraduate and graduate students at a U.S. regional university. Participant withdrawal, the debriefing of research participants, the dissemination of findings, and giving credit to co-contributors were the most challenging ethical issues for the students. Ethical awareness was predicted by professional and organizational socialization, and perspective taking. Contextualization greatly improved the students’ ability to recognize ethical issues. Simulations and role-taking are suggested as the means with which to teach students about the ethical issues perceived as challenging.

Continue reading…

Radden, Jennifer H. Recognition rights, mental health consumers and reconstructive cultural semantics. Philosophy, Ethics and Humanities in Medicine. January 2012.

Those in mental health-related consumer movements have made clear their demands for humane treatment and basic civil rights, an end to stigma and discrimination, and a chance to participate in their own recovery. But theorizing about the politics of recognition, ‘recognition rights’ and epistemic justice, suggests that they also have a stake in the broad cultural meanings associated with conceptions of mental health and illness. First person accounts of psychiatric diagnosis and mental health care (shown here to represent ‘counter stories’ to the powerful ‘master narrative’ of biomedical psychiatry), offer indications about how experiences of mental disorder might be reframed and redefined as part of efforts to acknowledge and honor recognition rights and epistemic justice. However, the task of cultural semantics is one for the entire culture, not merely consumers. These new meanings must benegotiated. When they are not the result of negotiation, group-wrought definitions risk imposing a revision no less constraining than the mis-recognizing one it aims to replace. Contested realities make this a challenging task when it comes to cultural meanings about mental disorder. Examples from mental illness memoirs about two contested realities related to psychosis are examined here: the meaninglessness of symptoms, and the role of insight into illness. They show the magnitude of the challenge involved – for consumers, practitioners, and the general public – in the reconstruction of these new meanings and realities. To honor recognition rights and epistemic justice acknowledgement must be made of the heterogeneity of the effects of, and of responses to, psychiatric diagnosis and care, and the extent of the challenge of the reconstructive cultural semantics involved. Continue reading…


Ars Technica

Timmer, John. Everyone agrees with us on climate change, especially when we’re wrong. November 12, 2012.

By just about every measure, the vast majority of scientists in general—and climate scientists in particular—have been convinced by the evidence that human activities are altering the climate. However, in several countries, a significant portion of the public has concluded that this consensus doesn’t exist. That has prompted a variety of studies aimed at understanding the large disconnect between scientists and the public, with results pointing the finger at everything from the economy to the weather. Other studies have noted societal influences on acceptance, including ideology and cultural identity. Continue reading…


Isidore, Chris. BP to pay record penalty for Gulf oil spill. November 15, 2012.

BP will plead guilty to a dozen felony charges stemming from the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, and agreed to pay $4.5 billion in government penalties, the oil company said Thursday. Continue reading…

Los Angeles Times

Editorial. Crime and punishment in California. November 10, 2012.

Is California’s costly tough-on-crime era over? That’s perhaps too optimistic a conclusion to draw from Tuesday’s election results. In passing Proposition 36, voters curbed some of the excesses of the state’s three-strikes law, but they also rejected a measure to roll back the death penalty and adopted one — Proposition 35 — that broadens the sex offender registry and imposes new life terms for some human trafficking offenses. The state has ceased its relentless march down a road toward ever-tougher sanctions, ever-more-crowded prisons and ever-rising costs. It has not turned the corner, but it’s peering around it, trying to get a sense of whether it’s safe to proceed. Continue reading…

Editorial. The prescription drug toll. November 15, 2012.

If one doctor’s prescriptions might be connected to the unnecessary deaths of multiple patients over several years, the state should be asking questions. Times reporters Scott Glover and Lisa Girion analyzed 3,733 prescription drug-related deaths in four Southern California counties, revealing that just 71 doctors — one-tenth of 1% in those counties — had written prescriptions in 17% of such fatalities over six years. One doctor profiled in the stories published Sunday had prescribed medications for 16 patients who subsequently overdosed, according to coroner’s reports. Continue reading…

New York Times

Editorial. Incredible prices for cancer drugs. November 12, 2012.

An unusually bold stand by doctors at the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York has forced a big drug company to reduce the cost of an overpriced drug for treating colorectal cancer that was no better than a cheaper competitor and did almost nothing to extend a patient’s life. It is a heartening sign that alert and aggressive physicians can potentially play a major role in helping to reduce the escalating costs of health care for treatments of marginal value. Continue reading…

Editorial. Voters Speak on Abortion Rights. November 9, 2012.

On Election Day, Florida voters wisely rejected a proposed amendment to the State Constitution that would prohibit abortion coverage as part of health plans for state workers and Medicaid recipients (such coverage is already severely limited by law). Going further, the amendment would have cut back on existing state privacy protections for women by barring the State Supreme Court from granting “broader rights to an abortion than those contained in the United States Constitution.” Continue reading… 

Editorial. Three strikes made fairer. November 9, 2012.

California’s voters softened one of the nation’s most destructive and unfair sentencing policies this week when they approved a ballot initiative revising the infamous three-strikes law of 1994, which imposes a life sentence for any felony conviction — no matter how minor — if the defendant has two previous serious convictions. Continue reading…

Washington Post

McKibben, Bill. What Obama should do now: tackle climate change. November 9, 2012.

Step up, Mr. President: No more worries about reelection. Now you can tackle those issues that you said had to wait for your second term. Outlook has given you a head start on how to address immigration, climate change, banking reform and racial inequality. Continue reading…


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