Who wouldn’t want to live as long as possible?

bbag-blog-image-logoShould We Be Reaching for Immortality?

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Whether by chipping away at the diseases of aging one-by-one, or by altering the fundamental biology of aging, medical research seems to be reaching for one over-arching goal: indefinitely extending the human lifespan. Living a longer, healthy life seems like an unqualified good. So long as life is good, who wouldn’t want to live as long as possible? The question turns out to be more complicated than it sounds. Dr. Tomlinson will be explaining some doubts, from both the individual and societal points of view.

February 13 calendar iconJoin us for Dr. Tomlinson’s lecture on Wednesday, February 13, 2019 from noon until 1 pm in person or online.

Tom Tomlinson was the Director of the Center for Ethics and Humanities in the Life Sciences from 2000-Fall 2018, has written and spoken on a wide variety of bioethical issues since 1981, and has provided clinical ethics consultation services for a number of hospitals in Michigan. He received his PhD in Philosophy from MSU in 1980, and is happy to have mentored students who have embarked on successful careers in bioethics. This talk marks the beginning of a possible book project tentatively titled The Lure of Immortality.

In person: This lecture will take place in C102 Patenge Room in East Fee Hall on MSU’s East Lansing campus. Feel free to bring your lunch! Beverages and light snacks will be provided.

Online: Here are some instructions for your first time joining the webinar, or if you have attended or viewed them before, go to the meeting!

Can’t make it? All webinars are recorded! Visit our archive of recorded lecturesTo receive reminders before each webinar, please subscribe to our mailing list.

Announcing the Spring 2019 Bioethics Brownbag & Webinar Series

bbag-icon-decIt’s almost time for the 2018-2019 Bioethics Brownbag & Webinar Series to resume! This spring we’ll hear from Center for Ethics faculty on the topics of aging and extending the human lifespan, as well as the social and ethical considerations of female cosmetic genital surgery. Please join us in person, or join the webinar livestream from any location. Visit the series webpage for more information.

Spring 2019 Series Flyer

February 13 calendar iconShould We Be Reaching for Immortality?
Wednesday, February 13, 2019

So long as life is good, who wouldn’t want to live as long as possible? The question turns out to be more complicated than it sounds.

Tom Tomlinson, PhD, is a Professor in the Center for Ethics and Humanities in the Life Sciences and the Department of Philosophy at Michigan State University.

March 13 calendar iconFemale Cosmetic Genital Surgery: Social and Ethical Considerations
Wednesday, March 13, 2019

This talk will discuss the latest innovations in female cosmetic genital surgery, the history behind the medical community’s involvement in defining women’s sexuality, and the ethical and social challenges these surgeries present.

Devan Stahl, PhD, is an Assistant Professor in the Center for Ethics and Humanities in the Life Sciences and the Department of Pediatrics and Human Development at Michigan State University.

In person: These lectures will take place from 12:00-1:00 PM in C102 (Patenge Room) East Fee Hall on MSU’s East Lansing campus. Feel free to bring your lunch! Beverages and light snacks will be provided.

Online: Here are some instructions for your first time joining the webinar, or if you have attended or viewed them before, go to the meeting!

Can’t make it? Every lecture is recorded and posted for viewing in our archive. If you’d like to receive a reminder before each lecture, please subscribe to our mailing list.

How can we protect patient rights and improve patient safety?

bbag-blog-image-logoEnding Medical Self-Regulation: Does Less Physician Control Improve Patient Safety and Protect Patient Rights?

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Medicine has long been one of the most self-regulating of all professions. In the 1970s, the new field of bioethics was designed to challenge this prevailing system. As Senator Ted Kennedy explained at the founding of Georgetown’s Kennedy Institute of Ethics, “Human life is too precious and the decisions regarding it too important to leave to any one group of specialists.” Still, even fifty years later, medicine remains largely self-regulating. And patients have suffered. In this presentation, Professor Pope will discuss recent initiatives to constrain the scope of physician discretion and how these initiatives improve patient safety and protect patient rights. He will place particular emphasis on the growing transition from traditional informed consent to shared decision-making with patient decision aids.

October 10 calendar iconJoin us for Dr. Pope’s lecture on Wednesday, October 10, 2018 from noon until 1 pm in person or online.

Thaddeus Mason Pope, JD, PhD, is Director of the Health Law Institute and Professor of Law and at Mitchell Hamline School of Law in Saint Paul, Minnesota. He is also: (1) Adjunct Professor with the Australian Centre for Health Law Research at Queensland University of Technology; (2) Adjunct Associate Professor with the Alden March Bioethics Institute at Albany Medical College; and (3) Visiting Professor of Medical Jurisprudence at St. Georges University. Professor Pope has over 140 publications in: leading medical journals, law reviews, bar journals, nursing journals, bioethics journals, and book chapters. He coauthors the definitive treatise The Right to Die: The Law of End-of-Life Decisionmaking. And he runs the Medical Futility Blog (with over three million page views).

In person: This lecture will take place in E4 Fee Hall on MSU’s East Lansing campus. Feel free to bring your lunch! Beverages and light snacks will be provided.

Online: Here are some instructions for your first time joining the webinar, or if you have attended or viewed them before, go to the meeting!

Can’t make it? All webinars are recorded! Visit our archive of recorded lecturesTo receive reminders before each webinar, please subscribe to our mailing list.

Why do psychiatrists choose not to disclose borderline personality disorder diagnoses with patients?

bbag-blog-image-logoTherapeutic Privilege in Psychiatry? The Case of Borderline Personality Disorder

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Borderline personality disorder (BPD) is a serious mental illness that effects 2-3% of the population, is highly stigmatized, and is often comorbid with other mental disorders. Although no pharmaceutical interventions exist, long-term psychotherapy has been shown to alleviate the symptoms of BPD. Nonetheless, behavioral health care professionals often hesitate to discuss BPD with their patients even when it is clear they have this disorder. Why do psychiatrists, in particular, fall silent? In this talk, Dr. Sisti will sketch the history of BPD and describe ethical arguments for and against of therapeutic nondisclosure. Dr. Sisti will summarize empirical data regarding psychiatrist nondisclosure of BPD, including recent research conducted by his team at Penn. Dr. Sisti will argue that diagnostic nondisclosure, while well-intentioned, can have long-term negative consequences for patients, caregivers, and the health system more generally. As a form of therapeutic privilege, nondisclosure of BPD is ethically inappropriate.

sept19-bbagJoin us for Dr. Sisti’s lecture on Wednesday, September 19, 2018 from noon until 1 pm in person or online.

Dominic Sisti, PhD is director of the Scattergood Program for the Applied Ethics of Behavioral Health Care and assistant professor in the Department of Medical Ethics & Health Policy at the University of Pennsylvania. He holds secondary appointments in the Department of Psychiatry, where he directs the ethics curriculum in the residency program, and in the Department of Philosophy. Dominic’s research examines the ethics of mental health care services and policies, including long-term psychiatric care for individuals with serious mental illness and ethical challenges in correctional mental health care. He also studies how mental disorders are defined, categorized, and diagnosed with a focus on personality disorders. Dr. Sisti’s writings have appeared in peer-reviewed journals such as JAMA, JAMA Psychiatry, Psychiatric Services, and the Journal of Medical Ethics. His work has been featured in popular media outlets such as the New York Times, NPR, Slate, and The Atlantic. Dr. Sisti received his PhD in Philosophy at Michigan State University, working under the supervision of Professor Tom Tomlinson. A native of Philadelphia, Dominic received his Master’s degree in bioethics from the University of Pennsylvania and his bachelor’s degree from Villanova University.

In person: This lecture will take place in C102 East Fee Hall on MSU’s East Lansing campus. Feel free to bring your lunch! Beverages and light snacks will be provided.

Online: Here are some instructions for your first time joining the webinar, or if you have attended or viewed them before, go to the meeting!

Can’t make it? All webinars are recorded! Visit our archive of recorded lecturesTo receive reminders before each webinar, please subscribe to our mailing list.

Announcing the Fall 2018 Bioethics Brownbag & Webinar Series

bbag-icon-decThe Center for Ethics and Humanities in the Life Sciences at Michigan State University is proud to announce the 2018-2019 Bioethics Brownbag & Webinar Series, which features a variety of bioethics topics. The series will begin on September 19, 2018. You are invited to join us in person or watch live online from anywhere in the world! Information about the fall series is listed below. Please visit our website for more details, including the full description and speaker bio for each event.

Fall 2018 Series Flyer

sept19-bbagTherapeutic Privilege in Psychiatry? The Case of Borderline Personality Disorder
Why do behavioral health care professionals often hesitate to discuss BPD with their patients even when it is clear they have this disorder?
Wednesday, September 19, 2018; C102 Patenge Room, East Fee Hall
Dominic A. Sisti, PhD, is Director, The Scattergood Program for Applied Ethics of Behavioral Health Care; Assistant Professor, Department of Medical Ethics & Health Policy; Assistant Professor, Department of Psychiatry, Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania.

oct-10-bbagEnding Medical Self-Regulation: Does Less Physician Control Improve Patient Safety and Protect Patient Rights?
Wednesday, October 10, 2018; E4 Fee Hall
Thaddeus Mason Pope, JD, PhD, is Director of the Health Law Institute at Mitchell Hamline School of Law.

In person: These lectures will take place from 12:00-1:00 PM (Eastern Time) in East Fee Hall on MSU’s East Lansing campus. Feel free to bring your lunch! Beverages and light snacks will be provided.

Online: Here are some instructions for your first time joining the webinar, or if you have attended or viewed them before, go to the meeting!

Can’t make it? Every lecture is recorded and posted for viewing in our archive. If you’d like to receive a reminder before each lecture, please subscribe to our mailing list.

How should we guide the ethical practice of grateful patient fundraising?

bbag-blog-image-logoEthical Issues Related to Fundraising from Grateful Patients

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Health care institutions are becoming increasingly deliberate about philanthropic fundraising given the need to sustain their missions in the face of decreases in governmental research funds and lowering reimbursement for clinical care. Donations from grateful patients constitute 20% of all philanthropic contributions to academic medical centers, totaling nearly $1 billion a year in recent years. Institutions frequently employ development professionals to facilitate philanthropy. The development literature describes various approaches for identifying patients capable of contributing, cultivating potential donors, and engaging physicians in the solicitation of grateful patients, emphasizing that patients themselves may also benefit from exercising altruism in this way. However, little evidence exists to guide the ethical practice of grateful patient fundraising, and concerns exist regarding privacy and confidentiality, patient vulnerability, and physicians’ conflicts of obligations in this context. Therefore, we will discuss how the process of philanthropic development should be structured in order to demonstrate respect for all persons involved, including patients who donate, those who might consider donation, those who do not wish to donate, and those who cannot afford to do so.

April 11 calendar iconJoin us for Dr. Jagsi’s lecture on Wednesday, April 11, 2018 from noon until 1 pm in person or online.

Reshma Jagsi, MD, DPhil, is Professor and Deputy Chair in the Department of Radiation Oncology and Director of the Center for Bioethics and Social Sciences in Medicine at the University of Michigan. She graduated first in her class from Harvard College and then pursued her medical training at Harvard Medical School. She also served as a fellow in the Center for Ethics at Harvard University and completed her doctorate in Social Policy at Oxford University as a Marshall Scholar. Dr. Jagsi’s medical research focuses on improving the quality of care received by breast cancer patients, both by advancing the ways in which breast cancer is treated with radiation and by advancing the understanding of patient decision-making, cost, and access to appropriate care. Her social scientific research includes research into issues of bioethics arising from cancer care and research regarding faculty development and gender issues, including studies of women’s representation in the medical profession. Dr. Jagsi is the author of over 200 publications in peer-reviewed journals, including The New England Journal of Medicine and JAMA. Her research has been funded by the National Institutes of Health through multiple R01 awards, as well as by numerous philanthropic foundations, including the American Cancer Society, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and the Doris Duke Foundation. She has been elected to the Board of Directors of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO), for which she formerly served as Ethics Committee Chair, and the Steering Committee of the Group on Women in Medicine and Science of the American Association of Medical Colleges (AAMC). In recognition of her research contributions, she was inducted into the American Society of Clinical Investigation.

In person: This lecture will take place in C102 East Fee Hall on MSU’s East Lansing campus. Feel free to bring your lunch! Beverages and light snacks will be provided.

Online: Here are some instructions for your first time joining the webinar, or if you have attended or viewed them before, go to the meeting!

Can’t make it? All webinars are recorded! Visit our archive of recorded lecturesTo receive reminders before each webinar, please subscribe to our mailing list.

March webinar to address pain as a social construct

bbag-blog-image-logoPain But No Gain: Pain as a Problematic and Useless Concept?

Event Flyer

References to the human experience of “pain” are common, but those references are often ambiguous and vague. Such ambiguity creates conceptual and practical challenges, especially in the work of clinical ethics consultation. Conceptual challenges arise, for example, from the distinction between pain and suffering. Practical challenges arise from tensions between objective and subjective components of pain, and clinical ethical challenges arise in cases like Charlie Gard’s. Here, on the one hand, the court argued that Charlie was in such extreme pain and suffering, he should be allowed to die. Alternatively, others stated that we could not truly know about the experience of his pain, and that treatment therefore should be made available. While pain is a relevant clinical problem, it is also a social construct shaped by culture, environment and gender. These distinctions however get lost in a simple “pain” reference. With several clinical ethics scenarios, Dr. Eijkholt will ask if references to pain help us with anything, or if we should perhaps abandon pain as a “useless concept.”

March 14 calendar iconJoin us for Dr. Eijkholt’s lecture on Wednesday, March 14, 2018 from noon until 1 pm in person or online.

Marleen Eijkholt, JD, PhD, is and Assistant Professor in the Center for Ethics and Humanities in the Life Sciences and the Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Biology at the Michigan State University College of Human Medicine. Dr. Eijkholt focuses on a wide range of Ethical, Legal and Social Implications (ELSI) in health care ethics, including neurotechnology, reproductive medicine, clinical medicine and clinical research. Her work is eclectic like her background, including projects on pain, placebos, and reproductive rights, or deep brain stimulation, and experimental treatments like stem cells. She combines ethical, legal and philosophical theories in her research and scholarship. Additionally, she engages these in her professional life as an ethics consultant at Spectrum Health System. Dr. Eijkholt also contributes her expertise to the College of Human Medicine’s Shared Discovery Curriculum.

In person: This lecture will take place in C102 East Fee Hall on MSU’s East Lansing campus. Feel free to bring your lunch! Beverages and light snacks will be provided.

Online: Here are some instructions for your first time joining the webinar, or if you have attended or viewed them before, go to the meeting!

Can’t make it? All webinars are recorded! Visit our archive of recorded lecturesTo receive reminders before each webinar, please subscribe to our mailing list.

February webinar to address Michigan’s vaccine waiver education policy

bbag-blog-image-logoWhat’s the point of Michigan’s vaccine waiver education requirement?

Event Flyer

Since 2015, Michigan parents have had to attend education sessions at public health offices if they want their unvaccinated or under-vaccinated children to attend school or daycare. This policy seems to have succeeded: the state’s nonmedical exemption rate declined by 35% from 2014 to 2015. But what explains this apparent success? Are parents changing their minds as a result of mandatory vaccine education, or are they choosing to vaccinate rather than be inconvenienced by education sessions? Also, does vaccine education promote additional public health goals, i.e. other than short-term vaccination compliance? This presentation will attempt to answer these questions by drawing on immunization records, interviews with public health staff, and surveys of health department leaders, with the goal of informing arguments about the value of Michigan’s vaccine waiver education policy.

Feb 15 date iconJoin us for Dr. Navin’s lecture on Wednesday, February 14, 2018 from noon till 1 pm in person or online.

Mark Navin, PhD, is an Associate Professor of Philosophy at Oakland University. His recent work is primarily in bioethics and public health ethics. His book, Values and Vaccine Refusal, was published by Routledge in 2015.

In person: This lecture will take place in C102 East Fee Hall on MSU’s East Lansing campus. Feel free to bring your lunch! Beverages and light snacks will be provided.

Online: Here are some instructions for your first time joining the webinar, or if you have attended or viewed them before, go to the meeting!

Can’t make it? All webinars are recorded! Visit our archive of recorded lecturesTo receive reminders before each webinar, please subscribe to our mailing list.

Announcing the Spring 2018 Bioethics Brownbag & Webinar Series

green brownbag and webinar iconThis year’s Bioethics Brownbag & Webinar Series resumes in February. You are invited to join us in person or watch live online from anywhere in the world. Information about the spring series is listed below. Please visit our website for more details, including the full description and speaker bio for each event.

Spring 2018 Series Flyer

Feb 15 date iconWhat’s the point of Michigan’s vaccine waiver education requirement?
Are parents changing their minds as a result of mandatory vaccine education, or are they choosing to vaccinate rather than be inconvenienced by education sessions?
Wednesday, February 14, 2018
Mark Navin, PhD, is an Associate Professor of Philosophy at Oakland University.

March 14 calendar iconPain But No Gain: Pain as a Problematic and Useless Concept?
Do references to pain help us with anything, or should we perhaps abandon pain as a “useless concept?”
Wednesday, March 14, 2018
Marleen Eijkholt, JD, PhD, is an Assistant Professor in the Center for Ethics and Humanities in the Life Sciences and the Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Biology in the Michigan State University College of Human Medicine, and Clinical Ethics Consultant at Spectrum Health System.

April 11 calendar iconEthical Issues Related to Fundraising from Grateful Patients
How should the process of philanthropic development be structured in order to demonstrate respect for all persons involved?
Wednesday, April 11, 2018
Reshma Jagsi, MD, DPhil, is Professor and Deputy Chair in the Department of Radiation Oncology, and Director of the Center for Bioethics and Social Sciences in Medicine at the University of Michigan Medical School.

In person: These lectures will take place in C102 (Patenge Room) East Fee Hall on MSU’s East Lansing campus. Feel free to bring your lunch! Beverages and light snacks will be provided.

Online: Here are some instructions for your first time joining the webinar, or if you have attended or viewed them before, go to the meeting!

Can’t make it? Every lecture is recorded and posted for viewing in our archive. If you’d like to receive a reminder before each lecture, please subscribe to our mailing list.

Prospects, Promises and Perils of Human Mind-Reading

bbag-blog-image-logoProspects, Promises and Perils of Human Mind-Reading

Event Flyer

In recent years, several research groups have been able to infer the contents of subjects’ thoughts from fMRI scans. E-commerce sites are tracking customers’ purchases and making ever better predictions about what people will buy. What are the prospects for such technology to be widely used? Are there fundamental technical limitations?

We may readily imagine dystopian scenarios for such technology, where privacy as we have known it is no longer meaningful, and the powerful monitor the thoughts of everyone else. We may also imagine that therapists could better communicate with autistic or troubled people, or to detect incipient mental illness.

nov-29-bbagJoin us for Dr. Reimer’s lecture on Wednesday, November 29, 2017 from noon till 1 pm in person or online.

Mark Reimers, PhD, is an Associate Professor in the Neuroscience Program in the College of Natural Science at Michigan State University. Dr. Reimers’ research focuses on analyzing and interpreting the very large data sets now being generated in neuroscience, especially from the high-throughput technologies developed by the BRAIN initiative. He obtained his MSc in scientific computing, and his PhD in probability theory from the University of British Columbia in Canada. He has worked at Memorial University in Canada, the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, at several start-up companies in Toronto and in Boston, at the National Institutes of Health in Maryland, the Virginia Institute for Psychiatric and Behavioral Genetics in Richmond, and since January 2015 in the Neuroscience Program at Michigan State University.

In person: This lecture will take place in C102 East Fee Hall on MSU’s East Lansing campus. Feel free to bring your lunch! Beverages and light snacks will be provided.

Online: Here are some instructions for your first time joining the webinar, or if you have attended or viewed them before, go to the meeting!

Can’t make it? All webinars are recorded! Visit our archive of recorded lecturesTo receive reminders before each webinar, please subscribe to our mailing list.