Unless you’ve been under a rock or on a boat in the middle of the ocean1, you’re aware that the United States is in the middle of a measles outbreak that has, so far, infected over 100 people, and was traced back to December Disneyland visits.
We’re heading in to mid-November, and while the very disturbing logistics/supply chain chart showing that some personal protective equipment stock in countries battling Ebola are at “zero”–and had been for a while–have improved, the Ebola outbreak is still racing through Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea. Sadly, the outbreak also appears to be gaining a small foothold in Mali.
...and probably not for the reason you think. Outbreak is one of those movies people seem to either love or hate (or possibly love to hate); almost everyone I know who has anything to do with public health, infectious diseases, or virology tends to swear up a blue storm when the movie comes up.
The WHO medical ethics panel convened Monday to discuss the ethics of using experimental treatments for Ebola in West African nations affected by the disease. I am relieved to note that this morning they released their unanimous recommendation: “it is ethical to offer unproven interventions with as yet unknown efficacy and adverse effects, as potential treatment or prevention.”
The World Health Organization has released a statement (in full, bottom of blog post) that they are going to convene, early next week, a panel of medical ethicists to “explore the use of experimental treatment in the ongoing Ebola outbreak in West Africa.” The statement goes on to say that “the recent treatment of two health workers from Samaritan’s Purse with experimental medicine has raised questions about whether medicine that has never been tested and shown to be safe in people should be used in the outbreak.”
A lot of interesting testimony came out of yesterday’s House Energy and Commerce Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee hearing, which was titled “Review of CDC Anthrax Lab Incident,” but broadly covered the numerous slapstick-’cept-it-ain’t-funny errors around dangerous pathogens research at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
As expected, the last case ruled on before the Supreme Court of the United States adjourned until October was the Hobby Lobby/Conestoga case. For those unaware, this case is based on the Affordable Care Act’s contraception mandate, classifying contraceptives as preventive healthcare required under all insurance plans without a co-pay. Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood both objected to this, saying that covering some forms of birth control, like the IUD/IUS or Plan B, violated their religious beliefs by requiring them to fund abortive medications.1
What is a digital trail? How can all your blog posts, photos, opinions, articles, and news affect your personal, professional and academic life? What is happening to the internet and how is affecting people in the real world? Kelly Hills tells us about her own personal story and how life online is a bit more complicated than you might expect.
As just about everyone who uses Twitter is likely aware, on Thursday the company attempted to roll out changes to the “block” feature. Instead of the previous policy, which didn’t allow blocked users to follow you or interact with your Tweets, “block” was going to function more like “mute”: blocked users would still be able to follow you and interact with (RT, MT, favourite, etc) your Tweets, you’d just never see it happening.
With great power comes great responsibility. While this sentiment was first given voice in a Spider-Man comic, the idea itself is a common cultural trope that focuses on responsibility and accountability to something greater than oneself. The contrast of the trope is best summed up by the phrase “with great power comes great perks”, or with Rob MacDougall’s argument in defense of industry funding bioethicists.
One of the first things I saw when I got off the plane in Philadelphia Sunday night, after a trans-Pacific flight, was this statement from Rep. Jodie Laubenberg: In the emergency room they have what’s called rape kits where a woman can get cleaned out. The woman had five months to make that decision, at this point we are looking at a baby that is very far along in its development.
When people find out that my mother died of non-small cell lung cancer, almost invariably, the first thing they ask is, “did she smoke?”1 It’s a truism that holds today, and it started shortly after she was diagnosed – even from people who should have known better. In other words, every bioethicist, save one, flat-out asked me that.
As reactions continue to race around the internet about Angelina Jolie’s double mastectomy and reconstructive surgery – the actual discussions, not the Monday-morning quarterbacking of her decision or the utterly vile “but what about her boobies” reaction from that particular subgroup of men who manage to amaze me by their continued ability to manage basic functions like breathing – I’ve been sent links.
We’ve all been in the situation where we do something – crash a bike, step wrong on thawing ground, trip over a damnedbeloved pet – that leaves us with a painful injury that doesn’t go away. And when that happens, we go to the doctor to verify we’re not badly injured, and possibly pick up some anti-inflammatories. For most of us, when this happens, our skin won’t slough off, we won’t end up in a burn unit for treatment, and we won’t be in a medically induced coma for months.
So apparently Business Insider thought that they would do the world a solid and highlight the fact that scientists can be attractive, sexy people, too. It seems the idea that there can be more to being a scientist than a messy-haired, lab-coat-wearing dweeb is not only newsworthy, but list-worthy.
As some folks know, I’m leading a discussion this afternoon on citizen/DIY science and research ethics, with my co-moderator, Dr. Judy Stone. One of the things that Judy and I have been talking about lately is whether or not there’s really a concern with ethical research in citizen science, or if the concern is with DIY science, a related yet independent concept.