Bioethics @ TIU

Caring for people with gender dysphoria

Posted May 4th, 2016 by Steve Phillips

Every once in a while something shows up on Facebook that is worth reading. The other day I ran across a link to the article “Transgenderism: A Pathogenic Meme” by Dr. Paul McHugh. Dr. McHugh is the University Distinguished Service Professor of Psychiatry at Johns Hopkins. Over his long career he has cared for and studied patients with gender dysphoric disorder who present with the… // Read More »

Slouching Towards Gattaca

Posted April 30th, 2016 by Joe Gibes

Genetics is the determinism of our age (“Your destiny is determined by your genes”). It appears more scientific than the determinisms of previous ages such as astrology (“Your destiny is in the stars”) or Marxism (“Your destiny is in economics”), and thus has much greater appeal to the people who look to science for The Answers. News headlines breathlessly report the discovery of the “gene… // Read More »

A Bit More about the Minimal Genome

Posted April 28th, 2016 by Jon Holmlund

Earlier this week, Mark McQuain posted a nice summary of the recently-published work by J. Craig Venter’s group to identify a “minimal genome” for a type of bacterium, the mycoplasmas, which are, as the group points out, “the simplest cells capable of autonomous growth.”  Mark wondered aloud what the implications would be for our understanding of what it is to be human—how many genes do… // Read More »

Genetic Prime Patterns

Posted April 26th, 2016 by Mark McQuain

Last month, Science published the results of an ongoing experiment conceived to determine, among other things, the minimum number of genes necessary for viability in a mycoplasma bacterium. Calling their engineered result Syn 3.0, scientists at the J. Craig Venter Institute (JCVI) rearranged and reduced the number of genes on the single chromosome of a M. mycoides bacterium and inserted it into a different mycoplasma… // Read More »

A brief thought on rising suicide rates

Posted April 25th, 2016 by Neil Skjoldal

A recent article in The Washington Post describes a very disturbing trend: “The U.S. suicide rate has increased sharply since the turn of the century, led by an even greater rise among middle-aged white people, particularly, women, according to federal data released Friday [April 22]” The article offers some suggestions as to why things have been so grim: last decade’s severe recession, drug addiction, social isolation,… // Read More »

Public Attitudes about Gene Editing

Posted April 21st, 2016 by Jon Holmlund

A recent Perspective article in the New England Journal of Medicine summarizes the results of several public surveys about the acceptability of gene editing.  This summary, which is freely available to the general public online without a subscription, is worth a read.  I think it’s limited by the fact that most of the surveys listed are old.  Only two were done since 2014, and the… // Read More »

Who should we listen to?

Posted April 20th, 2016 by Steve Phillips

A BreakPoint commentary by John Stonestreet caught my attention yesterday. He was describing an interaction between a senator and someone testifying before a Senate committee. The context was a hearing on how federal climate policies had impacted economic opportunity, national security, and related issues. In the course of his testimony the senator asked Alex Epstein, who has written a book titled The Moral Case for… // Read More »

Can Teaching Ethics be “Safe”?

Posted April 17th, 2016 by Philip Thompson

Though I’ve taught college level ethics classes for fifteen years, I’m still overwhelmed with feelings of both exhilaration and apprehension as I enter the classroom and face forty or more intellectually bright and highly motivated health care majors. For fifty minutes a day, three days a week, we talk about some of the most critical, complex, and controversial issues of our day: embryonic stem cell… // Read More »

Doctor-Assisted Suicide in Canada: the Next Step

Posted April 14th, 2016 by Jon Holmlund

The general press is reporting that the Liberal majority in Canada has drafted proposed legislation to establish the conditions under which physician-assisted suicide (PAS) would be legal.  Per the Canadian Supreme Court’s order last year that PAS is allowed in Canada, the Parliament has until June 6 to pass it, or the Court’s prior order would come into force.  This would effectively leave judgments of… // Read More »

Experimentation on nonviable human embryos

Posted April 13th, 2016 by Steve Phillips

Nature News recently reported that a second Chinese research team has done research on non-viable triploid human embryos in which they used CRISPR-Cas9 genome editing to introduce a mutation that cripples the immune cell gene CCR5 and would make individuals with the mutation resistant to HIV. This research raises a multitude of ethical concerns. Should we be pursuing such research when we have not decided… // Read More »