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To the readers of, the bioethics community, and the general public:

As our publisher, Taylor and Francis, has announced, Glenn McGee has stepped down at Editor-in-Chief of AJOB. Upon making the decision to take a position in the private sector, Glenn made a recommendation to the publisher that one of us (David Magnus, co-Editor of AJOB), be promoted to Editor in Chief. He agreed, but only on the condition that Summer Johnson McGee, then Executive Editor of AJOB, be made the co-Editor-in-Chief with him. It took some time to persuade Taylor and Francis to release Glenn from his editorial contract and to work out details with its new editors regarding the transition plan.…

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A recent study conducted by Emory University School of Medicine found that therapeutic misconception is alive and well in Phase I cancer research. According to the Chicago Tribune, “people enrolled in early stage trials for possible cancer treatments may underestimate the risks involved and overestimate the potential benefits.”

The culprit: hope. Yes, that’s right. Plain unabashed optimism. As one of the study authors Rebecca Pentz describes it: “When participants describe the risks and benefits of participating in the trial, they may use their descriptions to stay hopeful.” That blasted hopefulness is clouding people’s understanding of research risk and benefit. How horrible!…

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Scientists, reproductive specialists and andrologists had better prepare. If Newt Gingrich has his way (and wins the Presidency), he will have a whole new world in store for science and medicine.

Newt has revived the embryo debate in Republican politics, giving bioethicists a “walk-on role” as Michael Cook explains it. How successful he will be on keeping it on the radar is another issue altogether. It is just as likely that Newt may have just been pandering to the audience at the Exciting Idlewild Baptist Church in Florida, trying to secure votes that clearly were not enough to win the Florida Primary.…

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Yes, it’s true. Bieber Fever has spread far and wide. But it isn’t just tweens who are following the pop star, Justin Bieber’s, every move. Apparently his Twitter feed has quite an effect on his fellow Canadians in regard to organ donation.

Capitalizing on the young star’s success, Helene Campbell, 20, asked him to Tweet about the Trillium Gift of Life Network to incentivize signing up for being an organ donor, says Canada’s National Post.

And shockingly, it worked. More than 500 people signed up to be organ donors after Bieber’s tweet. All it takes is just a few words from a celebrity to make a difference.…

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Art Caplan discusses a troubling case regarding a 32-year-old pregnant woman known as “Mary Moe” who is pregnant for the third time and who suffers from schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.

Can the court require her to have an abortion? Ought someone prevent Mary from having sex?

These questions and more are raised by Caplan’s provocative piece on MSNBC. To read it click here.

Summer Johnson McGee, PhD…

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The blogosphere and the airwaves are filled with indignation regarding what has happened to Amelia Rivera, a three year old who has a rare genetic disorder called Wolf-Hirschhorn syndrome. Amelia needs a kidney transplant, but physicians at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia have denied her access due to her mental impairment. The discussion held in a conference room at the hospital is recounted in detail by Amelia’s mother, Chrissy, on her blog.

Parents of special needs children around the world are outraged not only for Amelia but at the notion that health care providers, even at one of the best children’s hospitals in the world, might arbitrarily decide to deny children treatment on the basis of their mental status.…

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Art Caplan reminds us in his column on that its good to be skinny, whether dead or alive. The negative health consequences of obesity experienced during life linger on well into death, especially for those who want to donate their bodies to science. Does this create a moral obligation to shed pounds? Perhaps. If we want medical students to have cadavers and crash-test dummies.

To read more about Art’s position on the issue, click here.

Summer Johnson McGee, PhD…

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We sadly note the passing of philosopher and bioethicists, Bernard “Bernie” Gert. Bernie was also a member of American Society for Bioethics and Humanities and received its Lifetime Achievement Award in 2006. He will be missed by all.

His obituary is below.

Summer Johnson McGee, PhD

Bernard Gert, Stone Professor of Intellectual and Moral Philosophy, Emeritus, died on the evening of Saturday the 24th of December at the UNC Hospital. He was 77.
Bernard – Bernie to his friends and family – was arguably the greatest moral philosopher of the 20th century. He taught at Dartmouth College for fifty years, from 1959 to 2009, making him the longest serving faculty member in the school’s history.

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An eight-year-old Cleveland Heights, Ohio boy has been taken away from his parents by Child Protective Services. An unfortunate, but routine occurrence in the world of CPS–but this time the case has an usual cause—this third grader weighs more than 200 pounds and in the judgement of some Cuyahoga County officials his parents are the cause of his abuse to his health and well-being.

But as the Cleveland Plain Dealer asked this week, “Is Obesity Cause Enough To Take Kids From Parents?” My answer is absolutely no.


Of course, it is a tragedy that an 8-year old third-grader weighs as much as a major league baseball player and that is is almost certain that he faces a life of serious and life-threatening co-morbities of obesity such as diabetes, heart disease, depression and others.…

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This month’s issue of The American Journal of Bioethics is now available online. Research ethics is featured prominently in this issue with Rosamond Rhodes et al arguing for a new category of research risk and an article about the recruitment of research participants.

In addition, John Lantos and William Meadow discuss the ethics of the “slow code.” Hence the picture of a snail on our November cover!

Also, this month all of this content is FREE from our publisher. So visit the Table of Contents today!

To read more about these topics, visit us at

Summer Johnson McGee, PhD…

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