By Jessica Haushalter
On June 15th, I embarked on a journey to learn more about bioethics. This was the day I started classes at the Global Bioethics Initiative Summer School Program. At this program, wonderful lecturers from various parts of the United States and the world present on a myriad of bioethical topics.
During the first week, a lecture given by Dr. James Hughes really captivated me. It made me think about bioethics-related topics that I had not considered before.
Dr. Hughes, who heads up the Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies, discussed how media and popular culture portrays emerging technologies, and how that portrayal affects the public’s view of science and technology. I had not before thought about how science fiction movies affected how the public thinks about cloning, genetic alterations, and more.
Many other lecturers have also changed the way I think about bioethical topics. They have given me a lot to think about as I continue on in my education and career. During the second week of the program, Dr. Lloyd Ratner of Columbia University, really sparked in me an interest in the ethics of organ transplantation. I am excited to begin the third week of the summer program so that I may further expand my mind.
In addition to the thought-provoking lectures and discussions, the summer school has provided me with the opportunity to go on many interesting field trips. So far, we have visited the New York Stem Cell Foundation and the American Museum of Natural History. At the New York Stem Cell Foundation I was able to view neurons and cardiac muscles through microscopes, and learn about the research being done with stem cells. At the American Museum of Natural History, we explored the “Countdown to Zero: Defeating Disease” exhibit where we learned about disease reduction around the world. We were also able to explore some of the biodiversity exhibits, which was fascinating!
Additionally, GBI Executive Director, Dr. Ana Lita, and Dr. Bruce Gelb, the head of renal transplantation at NYU Langone Medical Center, graciously invited students to the Celebration of the 70th Anniversary of the signing of the UN Charter. This event was held in a beautiful venue at the United Nations. This event gave me insight into various cultures and a chance to chat with UN ambassadors and people from around the world. I look forward to the other opportunities that being involved in the Global Bioethics Initiative summer school will bring!”
By Remy Servis
“My wonderful experience with the GBI Summer School Program began with the tremendously successful opening reception in June. As an intern, I got the chance to network with students and professionals from all over the world!
The lectures and seminars at the Summer Program have been fascinating; I particularly enjoyed Dr. Jonathan Moreno’s lecture on Bioethics and National Security. It opened my eyes to a record of experimental testing that I didn’t know existed in our country’s history. His talk was so informative that I ended up renting his book, Undue Risk, from the library to learn more!
Another interesting lecture and discussion was led by Marco Viniegra of the Harvard Divinity School. His presentation on Narrative Medicine got me thinking about the best ways to approach medicine and patient care in our changing world. He posed many questions that challenged my previously held conceptions about what it means to be a doctor in the United States and how much responsibility we should be placing on our healthcare providers.
I find that every lecture and discussion at the Summer Program is gripping, educational, and interactive. The chance to exchange ideas and considerations with leaders in the field of bioethics and medicine is invaluable. I’m looking forward to the Summer School’s fantastic lineup for the second half of the program, including presentations by Dr. Joseph Fins (Weill Cornell), Dr. Bruce Gelb (NYU), and Shirin Karsan (Drexel University).
By Kaitlyn Schaeffer
The first two weeks of the Summer Program have been immersive and exciting. I have learned so much!
One of my favorite lectures so far was led by Dr. John D. Loike, a professor at the Center for Bioethics at Columbia University. My background is in the humanities, so Dr. Loike’s science-driven discussion of cloning technologies was mind-blowing for me. The material he presented really had me questioning whether the moratorium that was placed on cloning experiments is really beneficial. Cloning technologies, of course, raise quite a number of ethical questions, many of which relate to the sharp disparity in income that characterizes our nation’s distribution of wealth. Should certain reproductive options or medical treatments be available only to those that can afford them, or do we have a responsibility to make sure such important technologies are available to people of all income brackets?
Another important topic deals with the allocation of organs. Organs are an absolute scare resource (something Americans have trouble understanding). Given that there are only so many kidneys available for transplantation, much less than meets demand, how can we design a system that distributes these organs in a fair way? Dr. Bruce Gelb of NYU Langone Medical Center explained how we have allocated organs in the past, and how the new allocation system (implemented in December of last year) has fixed some of the problems that afflicted the old system. Hopefully we’ll eventually be able to encourage more people to donate their organs so that we won’t face such serious problems.
I’m looking forward to the next three weeks of the program.