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Updated: 1 hour 52 min ago

If Animals Have Rights, Should Robots?

November 30, 2016

(The New Yorker) – In an automated world, the gaze that meets our own might not be organic at all. There’s a growing chance that it will belong to a robot: a new and ever more pervasive kind of independent mind. Traditionally, the serial abuse of Siri or violence toward driverless cars hasn’t stirred up Harambe-like alarm. But, if like-mindedness or mastery is our moral standard, why should artificial life with advanced brains and human guardianships be exempt? Until we can pinpoint animals’ claims on us, we won’t be clear about what we owe robots—or what they owe us.

Obama Administration Still Wants to Release New Common Rule

November 30, 2016

(Bloomberg) – A major revision of the regulations designed to protect research subjects is still on track for release before the Obama administration exits the White House Jan. 20.  “It is the goal of this administration to come out with a final rule,” Jerry Menikoff, director of the Health and Human Services Office for Human Research Protections, said Nov. 14.

Patients Increasingly Influence the Direction of Medical Research

November 29, 2016

(NPR) – Patients and their advocates are getting an ever-larger voice in how medical research is carried out. They participate in the design of experiments and have a greater say in what outcomes they care about most — and it’s not always simply living longer. Sharon Terry has lived through a couple of decades during which patients went from being complete outsiders to participants. She worries now that they risk being co-opted by the medical research juggernaut.

I Would Have Given Anything to Have a Baby. But What Does IVF Really Cost?

November 29, 2016

(The Guardian) – A study by Oxford University’s Centre for Evidence-Based Medicine into 27 such treatments has found that 26 have no good scientific proof of success. Some may even cause you harm. Professor Carl Heneghan, who oversaw the study, said it was one of the worst examples of healthcare practice he had ever seen in this country. If this is true, how has it happened? This is the country where IVF was invented. Although the procedure was treated with much suspicion at first, its pioneer, Professor Robert Edwards, was eventually awarded the Nobel prize.

How Safe Is the Cosmetic Surgery Boom?

November 29, 2016

(BBC) – Since 2014 there has been a yearly increase of 13% across all cosmetic procedures, according to the annual report of the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons (Baaps). Yet it remains one of the least regulated areas of medicine. A scandal six years ago, when breast implants were made with industrial instead of medical-grade silicon, led to a government review of the industry. The review highlighted facial injections or fillers, saying: “It is our view that dermal fillers are a crisis waiting to happen.” It recommended the procedure should only be available with a doctor’s prescription.

Injections, Implants Tested as New Weapons to Prevent HIV

November 29, 2016

(Reuters) – Scientists are taking the battle to prevent HIV to the next level with large-scale trials set to start using injections to protect vulnerable groups such as gay men and women in Africa for at least two months. Further down the road, the hope is to produce matchstick-sized implants containing slow-release drugs – similar to existing under-the-skin contraceptive devices – that could offer year-long protection. Companies with drugs involved include GlaxoSmithKline, Gilead Sciences and Merck.

Stanford Researchers: Artificial Intelligence Is Ripe for Healthcare

November 29, 2016

(Healthcare IT News) – Stanford is taking the long view of AI, with a project called One Hundred Study on Artificial Intelligence (AI100). The study, written by a panel of AI experts from multiple fields including healthcare, will continue as an ongoing activity, with periodic reports examining how AI will touch different aspects of daily life. The first of those reports, “Artificial Intelligence and Life in 2030,” looks into the effects that AI advancements will have on a typical North American city a little more than a decade from now.

Blood Diseases Could Show Crispr’s Potential as Therapy

November 29, 2016

(Wired) – But the jury’s still out on whether Crispr will be as transformative as a medical therapy as it has been as lab tool. Plenty of gene-editing techniques have been attempted as therapies, but few have made significant impacts—especially when it comes to diseases as complex as cancer. A better place to start testing gene therapies is with inherited blood disorders, like sickle cell anemia and beta thalassemia.

Residency Opportunity: Brocher Foundation

November 29, 2016

The Brocher Foundation is located on the shores of the Geneva Lake, in Hermance (Geneva – Switzerland). The Brocher Foundation residencies last between one and four months. They give researchers the opportunity to work at the Brocher Centre on projects on the ethical, legal and social implications for humankind of recent medical research and new technologies. Every month a dozen of visiting researchers live and concentrate on their research project at the Foundation.


  • Write a book, articles, an essay, a monograph or your PhD thesis in a peaceful environment
  • Have the opportunity to meet other researchers from different disciplines and countries
  • Have the opportunity to meet experts from numerous International Organizations & Non- Governmental Organizations based in Geneva (WHO, WTO, WIPO, UNHCR, ILO, WMA, ICRC, … )

The Brocher Foundation offers to successful applicants an accommodation in the domain of the Brocher Foundation and work space with all facilities.
Developing a research project involving cooperation with a Swiss university, a European university, a governmental or non- governmental will be considered as an asset.

A researcher can apply with other researchers to work on a collaborative project.

Topics of the Year 2018:

Among the following disciplines: Bioethics, Medical Anthropology, Health Economics, Health Policy, Health Law, Philosophy of Medicine and Health, Medical Humanities, Social Science Perspectives on Health, Medical Ethics, History of medicine.

Proposals of the following topics are notably welcomed: Equitable access to medical care, Biobanks, Biosecurity and Dual Use Dilemmas, Clinical Trials and Research on Human Subjects, Genetic testing and screening, Health Care Reform, Nanotechnology, Neglected diseases, Pandemic planning, Reproductive technology, Stem Cells and Cell Therapy, Organ transplantation, Cyber Health, Neurosciences, Synthetic Biology.

Click here for more information or to apply.


Take One Egg. Cool to -196 C. Revolutionize Fertility.

November 28, 2016

(The Toronto Star) – Now eggs can be frozen like sperm — and anything a male sex cell can do from that point on, a female one can, too. “Vitrification,” as the new technique is called, has made many avenues of assisted reproduction safer, cheaper, more efficient and easier to access. But unsurprisingly for a technology that creates human beings, egg freezing, by unravelling one biological knot, has created a tangle of new questions about gender, work, health and religion.

3D Embryo Atlas Reveals Human Development in Unprecedented Detail

November 28, 2016

(The Guardian) – Published in the journal Science and available for all to view on a special website, the research involved the painstaking construction of 3D digital models of human embryos at various stages during the first two months of development. Around 75 trained students were involved in analysing digital photographs of approximately 15,000 stained sections of tissues from the US-based Carnegie Collection of embryos – an array dating from around 60 to more than 100 years ago, collected by doctors during procedures such as hysterectomies.

Man Who Killed Abortion Doctor Gets More Lenient Sentence

November 28, 2016

(Fox News) – The man who seven years ago ambushed and fatally shot one of the few U.S. doctors performing late-term abortions was given a more lenient sentence Wednesday of at least 25 years in prison before becoming eligible for parole. At a surprise resentencing hearing, prosecutors withdrew their request that Scott Roeder serve at least 50 years before parole eligibility. Roeder also was sentenced to an additional two years for aggravated assault for threatening two church ushers as he fled.

Most Doctors Would Help Terminally Ill Die: AMA

November 28, 2016

(The Australian) – A majority of doctors would help terminally ill people die if ­voluntary euthanasia became law, a landmark survey of GPs and medical specialists by the AMA has revealed. The Australian Medical ­Association will today unveil a policy rejecting euthanasia and doctor-assisted suicide, but which acknowledges for the first time that right-to-die laws are ­“ultimately a matter for society and government”.

Do Your Family Members Have a Right to Your Genetic Code?

November 28, 2016

(MIT Technology Review) – When Schilit got her test results back a few months later, she didn’t consider that her identical twin sister Arielle Schilit Nitenson, a PhD student in neuroscience at Brown University, would have concerns about the test. The two co-authored an article in the Journal of Genetic Counseling about their experience. “Your genes don’t really belong to you,” Nitenson says. As identical twins, Schilit and Nitenson share nearly the same genome. So any important information Schilit learned from the test would also be relevant to Nitenson.

Cambodian Surrogacy Crackdown: Move to Reassure Pregnant Women and Families

November 28, 2016

(The Guardian) – The Cambodian government has sought to reassure pregnant surrogates and would-be parents they will not face prosecution as it cracks down on the country’s fledgling commercial surrogacy industry, which was completely unregulated until a few weeks ago. Last week anti-human trafficking authorities arrested Tammy Charles, an Australian who operates Fertility Solutions PGD, along with a Cambodian nurse and a commerce ministry official. According to the Cambodia Daily newspaper, all three have been imprisoned pending trial on charges of requesting false documents and acting as intermediaries between adoptive parents and a pregnant woman.

Head Transplant Patient Will Use Virtual Reality to Smooth Transition to New Body

November 28, 2016

(Smithsonian) – The other big problem—besides the almost insurmountable technical details and the $10 to $100 million price tag—is that transplanting a head onto a new body could be a recipe for confusion and madness. The transplantee may not be psychologically ready for the body switch. That’s one reason Canavero has teamed up with the fledgling Chicago-based company Inventum Bioengineering Technologies to develop a virtual reality system to prep transplant patients for the traumatic swap.

Zika Is Driving Up Demand for Abortion. Here’s Why It Shouldn’t.

November 23, 2016

(The Washington Post) – Many women are understandably frightened at the prospect of having a child with significant disabilities, who may require ongoing — and costly — medical care. But there’s a problem with the level of alarm raised by various organizations’ Zika warnings to pregnant women. The latest data on the rate of microcephaly from Zika suggest that abortion demand driven by fear is greatly outpacing the actual risk of birth defects.

NgAgo Gene-Editing Controversy Escalates in Peer-Review Papers

November 23, 2016

(Nature) – A heated dispute over gene-editing that began online is now playing out in the scientific literature. Six months ago, Chinese researchers reported that an enzyme called NgAgo could be used to edit mammalian genes – and that it might  be more accurate and more versatile than the popular CRISPR-Cas9 gene-editing technique. But almost immediately, other scientists complained on internet forums that they could not replicate the experiment. Now, a paper with 20 authors, published in Protein & Cell, lists multiple attempts that failed to replicate the original experiment – while another, published in Cell Research, suggests that NgAgo may only block, but not edit, genes when it is injected into zebrafish (Danio rerio) embryos.

Bayer’s Essure Contraceptive Implant, Now with a Warning

November 22, 2016

(New York Times) – F.D.A. officials declined to withdraw the device, saying that Essure was safe and effective for many women although some experienced “very serious and sometimes debilitating problems.” But last week the agency ordered that a so-called black box warning be placed on the device’s packaging saying it could cause the kinds of injuries Ms. Myers sustained. The implant may puncture the fallopian tubes and uterus, and travel into the abdomen and pelvic cavity, the warning notes, causing persistent pain and requiring surgical removal.

Hope for Eradicating Tuberculosis Emerges in Peru Slum

November 22, 2016

(Reuters) – In places like Villa Esperanza, or Village of Hope, a neighborhood in Carabayllo where clusters of pastel-colored homes cling to dusty hills, the problem is inadequate health services to help patients follow through with treatment, which takes six months to a couple years. Partners in Health (PIH), a Boston-based non-profit that works with Peru’s health ministry, offers a simple solution. It trains community volunteers to tend to tuberculosis patients in their homes, making sure they take medicine daily and helping them navigate the public health bureaucracy.