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“In the past couple of weeks, those of us who are students at the Global Bioethics Initiative Summer School have learned quite a lot about different bioethical issues. Two lecturers that really made the students think were Dr. James Hughes and Dr. Joseph Fins. Dr. Hughes presented on the Ethics of Life Extension and discussed the possible ethical issues surrounding people living much longer than they do now. Some of these ethical issues include keeping people healthy for more years than we do now, the retirement are, and whether life extension technologies can be fairly distributed among populations with income inequality. Dr. Fins gave a lecture titled, “Rights Come to Mind: Brain Injury, Ethics and the Struggle for Consciousness”, which is also the title of his most recent book. Dr. Fins discussed the different states of consciousness that a patient may experience following brain injury; Dr. Fins argued that the way we treat patients who are in what he calls a “minimally conscious state” is a serious ethical violation, perhaps even a human rights violation. Both of these lectures made students consider their own lives and how they might want to be treated if they suffered a brain injury. Each of these topics was especially interesting to me as I studied neuroscience and psychology in college. This summer school has given me a chance to hear from many wonderful speakers and has really made me think critically about many of the important ethical issues of our day.”

Jessica Haushalter, JD Candidate, Vanderbilt School of Law

“The most recent two weeks of GBI’s Summer Program were just as exciting and interesting as the first two. One lecture I found particularly interested was Dr. Sheldon Krimsky‘s talk on genetics and ethics. It seems like we read about scientists discovering links between certain genes and types of behavior all the time now – if they are correct, do we as a society have an obligation to screen for embryos that have the genes that are associated with aggression and violence? Another interesting lecture was Dr. John Loike‘s discussion of medical tourism. With the costs associated with medical treatments soaring in the United States, some insurance agencies are offering to pay their policyholder’s plane and hotel fare if they agree to have their procedures in countries where the cost of these procedures is significantly less than in America. Should we be outsourcing like this? Is this safe and healthy? These are just a few of the questions that arise when we consider the ethical implications of medical tourism.”

– Kaitlyn Schaeffer, Columbia University

Field Trip to the New York Genome Center

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“This week’s trip to the New York Genome Center was awe-inspiring. We spoke to several professionals and scientists who were passionate about their line of work. From one speaker, I learned that scientists are focusing on a technique that is a combination of microscopy and DNA sequencing, in which DNA is isolated from a single cell rather than a cluster. Another speaker was enthusiastic about being a genetic counselor, which has inspired me to look more into the field. Overall, it was an exciting and memorable look into the work coming out of NYGC.”
Yasmine Karma, Binghampton University
“Today the International Bioethics Summer School visited the New York Genome Center. At the Center, our group learned how biomedical research and genome sequencing provide solutions to serious diseases. During the discussion, our guide emphasized the importance of considering all of the ethical issues that arise with new technologies, including informed consent, anonymity of data, and the proper storage of research materials. Our visit really made us consider the ethical implications of genome sequencing in a real world setting, and it was an enlightening experience.”
Kristina Jacobsson, Trinity School