Philosophy & Ethics

Obviously in the instance of a severe pandemic influenza outbreak, doctors, nurses, and firefighters are essential but so are truck drivers, communications personnel, and utility workers, according to the conclusions of a Johns Hopkins University article in Biosecurity and Bioterrorism.

The report, led by Nancy Kass, Sc.D, Deputy Director of Public Health for the Johns Hopkins Berman Institute of Bioethics, provides ethical guidance for pandemic planning that ensures a skeletal infrastructure remain intact at all times. Dr. Kass says, "when preparing for a severe pandemic flu it is crucial for leaders to recognize that if the public has limited or no access to food, water, sewage systems, fuel and communications, the secondary consequences may cause greater sickness death and social breakdown than the virus itself."

Congressional appropriations are largely stalled, with the exception of defense spending:
Congress has made little progress on the federal government’s budget for fiscal year (FY) 2009, which begins October 1, leaving federal funding for research and development (R&D) in limbo... The federal investment in basic and applied research totals $58.2 billion at the start of FY 2009, a small $244 million or 0.4 percent increase due to large research increases in the finalized DOD [Dept. of Defense], DHS [Dept. of Homeland Security], and VA {Veterans Administration] budgets offset by cuts in research funding for agencies such as NSF, DOE Office of Science, and NIH that received supplemental 2008 appropriations in June but lose those funds in the CR. After adjusting for inflation, the federal investment in research could decline for the fifth year in a row in 2009.
It's all going to defense R&D:
Eli Lilly and Merck are going to start reporting payments made to physicians. How would you feel if you found out that your physician, who just prescribed you (or your child)that expensive new drug, has been receiving payments from the drug's manufacturer? Or that your physician has just attended a lavish "educational" conference at Lake Tahoe, sponsored by the drug's maker, and devoted largely to pushing the benefits of the drug?

Genetic studies involving the long term storage and study of human samples hold great promise for medical research—but they also pose new threats to individuals such as uninsurability, unemployability, and discrimination, say Matthias Wjst (Institute of Genetic Medicine, Bozen, Italy) and colleagues.

They argue that the traditional informed consent process—in which the researcher counsels potential study participants about the risks and benefits of taking part in a study—may no longer be appropriate when dealing with long-term studies using biological materials.

More than 1,500 audiocassette tapes taken in 2001 from Osama bin Laden's former residential compound in Qandahar, Afghanistan, are yielding new insights into the radical Islamic militant leader's intellectual development in the years leading up to the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

Flagg Miller, an assistant professor of religious studies at the University of California, Davis, and the first academic researcher to study the tapes, will present his preliminary observations in a lecture at the Center of Modern Oriental Studies in Berlin on Sept. 18. The first research paper stemming from Miller's study of the tapes will appear in the October issue of the journal Language & Communication.

'Framing the debate' had its 15 minutes of fame, somewhere early in 2006, and since then has been revealed as little more than another word for 'spin' and, in a new study published in the journal Communication, Culture & Critique, Barbara Barnett of Kansas University lays out how framing was used in the Duke lacrosse players rape allegation.

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All countries should take steps to govern organ donation and transplantation, thereby ensuring patient safety and prohibiting unethical practices, according to an article appearing in the September 2008 issue of the Clinical Journal of the American Society of Nephrology (CJASN).

The document is a consensus of more than 150 representatives of scientific and medical bodies from around the world, government officials, social scientists, and ethicists, who met in Istanbul, Turkey, this spring.

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