The “Future of Medicine” Bahamas Cruise and Conference

October 10-17, 2010

New York – The Bahamas – New York


Dear Friends,

The Appignani Bioethics Center invites you to attend an exceptional cruise conference to the Bahamas leaving from and returning to Manhattan, New York, aboard the luxurious Norwegian Jewel. Enjoy the Bora Bora Spa & Fitness Center, Jewel Casino, 16 different dining options, 13 bars, snorkeling & parasailing at Great Stirrup Cay, close encounters with dolphins and rays at Nassau, and more!

Educational Topics | Accommodations | Itinerary | Excursions | Registration

Educational Topics

Daily programs will consist of a 9:30 to 11:30 am session and a 1:00 to 3:00 pm session in the Azura Restaurant. All passengers are welcome to attend.

October 11th (9:30-11:30 am & 1:00-3:00 pm)

Michael West, PhD

Extending Healthy Lifespans: Is aging a disease?

Dr. West is Chief Executive Officer of BioTime, Inc. and Embryome Sciences, Inc. of Alameda, California. The companies are focused on developing an array of research and therapeutic products using human embryonic stem cell technology. He received his Ph.D. from Baylor College of Medicine in 1989 concentrating on the biology of cellular aging. He has focused his academic and business career on the application of developmental biology to the age-related degenerative disease.

Aging is the primary risk factor for late-life illnesses such as heart disease, cancer, and neurodegenerative diseases – diseases to which many of us will ultimately succumb. Research and resources have primarily been focused on treating and curing these diseases rather than addressing the underlying cause: aging. However, research centers and biotechnology companies are now beginning to put their research into studying the biology of aging and developing anti-aging technologies. Research on telomeres begs the question of whether there is a biological clock for cellular aging, research in cellular senescence asks how cells age, and research in DNA damage and repair ask how aging affects our cells’ ability to repair themselves.

October 15th (9:30-11:30 am)

John Nugent

Ethics and the Future of Medicine

While scientific research and technology foretells the possibility of human life extension, genetically engineered “designer babies” and the reshaping of human behavior through neuropharmacology the questions remain: “Does just because we can, necessarily mean we should?” and “What, if any, is the role of ethics in the decision making processes for implementing these new and revolutionary genetic and therapeutic products?” or “How do the new technologies affect the concept of human nature that is the foundation of our present society?” These and other questions will be raised within the context of defining possible ethical parameters for the future of medicine.

John Nugent holds a Masters Degree in Ethics, has over 36 years experience in the health care delivery field, where he is currently employed as the President of Planned Parenthood of Maryland. He is also the volunteer President of the Washington Area Secular Humanists. He has been an adjunct philosophy instructor and has spoken widely on the subject of ethics

October 15th (1:00-3:00 pm)

Toni Van Pelt

The Future of Medicine: US Government Support of Medical and Scientific Research

Toni Van Pelt is a director and a primary mover, along with Paul Kurtz, Norm Allen and Vincent Parr of the newly founded Institute for Science and Human Values. As former vice president of the Center for Inquiry and as a congressional lobbyist, she organized and directed one of the first public policy offices of the secular humanist movement in Washington, DC with a key focus on the importance of science to the well being of the nation. She also serves on the board of the National Organization for Women as the Southeast Regional Director.

She will detail the importance of continuous lobbying of the Congress, Federal regulatory agencies and the White House on medical and scientific research, support for integrity in science, and advocating for scientific research dollars and the National Science Foundation.

October 16th (9:30-11:30 am & 1:00-3:00 pm)

Martha J. Farah, PhD

Building a Better Brain: Can we become smarter, happier people?

Martha Farah is a Walter H. Annenberg Professor of Natural Sciences and Director of the Center for Cognitive Neuroscience at the University of Pennsylvania. She was awarded her Ph.D. in Experimental Psychology from Harvard University in 1983. Dr. Farah has received a Troland Research Award from the National Academy of Sciences, and a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Association for Psychological Science.

Besides exploring the biology of anti-aging technologies, the cruise conference will also focus on brain research and its applications to curing Alzheimer, Huntington, and Parkinson which are some of the most common brain diseases — each causing a unique form of progressive brain cell death. New research suggests that these and many other neurological diseases may be versions of the same basic disorder: a breakdown in the body’s ability to fold proteins into their correct shapes. Based on these findings, brain researchers are hoping for a common treatment for these conditions, using new kinds of drugs that prevent misfolding or minimize harm done to the cell. Dr. Martha Farah will explore some of these issues.

The curriculum’s film screenings and discussions of future medicine topics will be moderated by our Supplemental Faculty:

Ana Lita, PhD, in Applied Ethics from Bowling Green State University is the founding Director of the Appignani Bioethics Center, and serves as a key representative of the American Humanist Association to the United Nations, attending regular briefings and interfacing with other NGOs, country delegates, and diplomatic missions. She sits on the Ethics Committee of the International Federation for Medical and Biological Engineering, the UN NGO Health Committee, and the Ethics Committee of the Values Caucus.

There will be no educational programming while docked in the Bahamas.