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Harvey and Irma: Bioethics in Natural Disasters

09/08/2017

by Craig Klugman, Ph.D.

This is a time of disaster. Last week Hurricane Harvey devastated Southeast Texas, a place where I did my doctoral studies. This week we are awaiting Hurricane Irma, the strongest hurricane to head toward South Florida in 25 years. My family lays in the path of that coming storm. I first became interested in natural disaster in 1989 when my college campus was jolted by a 7.1 earthquake in Northern California.

Bioethics has a role in responding to and preparing for these natural disasters.…

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09/20/2017
CRISPR reveals genetic master switches behind butterfly wing patterns Nature

The brilliant, intricate patterns on butterfly wings — from haunting eye spots to iridescent splashes of blue — look as if they were painted on by teams of artists. Researchers thought that a complex collection of genes might be responsible, interacting to build up the final pattern. But two studies now suggest that two genes play an outsize role in determining the wing’s lines and colours. Turning off these ‘master’ genes disrupts the canvas, dulling the colours or turning the insects monochromatic.

09/19/2017
Pregnant women should not be categorised as a ‘vulnerable population’ in biomedical research studies: ending a vicious cycle of ‘vulnerability’ Journal Of Medical Ethics

A new study published in Journal of Medical Ethics by van der Zande et al1 further highlights why classifying pregnant women as a ‘vulnerable population’ in the context of research is deeply problematic. Because the designation of ‘vulnerable’ is otherwise applied to populations whose decision-making capacity about research participation is somehow compromised—such as children and adults of limited cognitive ability—many of us have been arguing for some time that using this designation for pregnant women is inappropriate and disrespectful.

09/18/2017
Are countries being honest about their carbon emissions? Satellites could tell Science

It’s all fine and good to sign a climate treaty, but how do you know whether a country is keeping its word? Track it from space. Researchers have shown that observations by Earth-orbiting instruments can be used to estimate carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from individual power plants. NASA’s Orbiting Carbon Observatory 2, which was launched in July 2014, was designed to monitor the movement of COin and out of ecosystems worldwide.

09/15/2017
PETA versus the postdoc: Animal rights group targets young researcher for first time Science

PETA and other animal rights groups have hounded researchers for decades in hopes of shutting down animal experiments in the United States and elsewhere. But Lattin is an unusual target. She’s a self-professed animal lover with a background in bird rescue; her studies are far less invasive than the research PETA has traditionally gone after; and she’s only a postdoc, much younger and less established than any scientist the group has singled out before.