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Commissions on a Mission

If the Obama administration hopes to move a new bioethics commission beyond the culture wars that embroiled much of the Bush council’s work, substantial efforts will be necessary to bring together now-divided bioethicists for pragmatic discussion.

Medicare-Funded Gene Test Could Propel Personalized Medicine Research

About two million patients take warfarin, or coumadin, each year to prevent blood clotting during medical procedures. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services of the Department of Health and Human Services invited public commentary on whether Medicare should fund genetic tests to determine a patient’s warfarin response. This possible change in policy might save thousands of lives and highlights the need for a more comprehensive approach to the field of personalized medicine.

Philosophy Lab

Philosophers are now wielding the tools of social science to shed light on challenging philosophical questions. This adds a quantitative dimension to discussions in moral philosophy and thereby gives policymakers more data with which to work.

Renegotiating the National Nanotechnology Initiative

Nanotechnology offers potential solutions to many pressing medical and scientific questions, but with these solutions it also offers a host of ethical and policy issues. The House recently aimed to address those issues with new legislation.

Stem Cell Tourism

With no stem cell therapies currently available in the United States, some citizens suffering from dehabilitating conditions turn to “stem cell tourism,” traveling abroad to receive stem cell-based treatments.

Sickle-Cell Breakthrough Shows Great Promise of iPS Cells

Mouse containing cells derived from a reprogrammed fibroblastResearchers recently cured sickle-cell anemia in a mouse model using iPS cells, highlighting the promise of iPS cells for future research and affirming the importance of preventing the current excitement about iPS cells from hastily ending embryonic stem cell research.

Cloning in Global Perspective

UN flagThe United Nations University Institute for Advanced Studies recently published a report on human cloning offering the international community two choices: either prepare for the legal and ethical issues associated with living, cloned humans, or prohibit human reproductive cloning.

Nanotech Regulation Under the Microscope

Carbon nanostructuresNanotechnology offers great promise, but an incomplete understanding of the potential dangers and the lack of a unified regulatory framework threaten the potential of research. And despite the concerns of scientists, the public is not engaged with nanotech policy.

Measured Progress on Stem Cells in NJ

Governor Corzine at a stem cell labThe New Jersey appellate court cleared the way for a $450 million referendum funding stem cell research in the state. But how much will go to work with embryonic stem cells, and how much will go to the less-promising work with adult stem cells?

Will Genome Sequencing Beat Privacy Protections to the Finish?

DNA strandJ. Craig Venter recently announced his institutes’s goal of sequencing the genomes of up to 50 people by the end of 2008, with an ultimate goal of sequencing 10,000 people’s genomes within ten years. Personalized genome sequencing will open the door to powerful new therapies, but it also poses ethical concerns over the possibility of genetic discrimination.

Lessons from Britain’s Cybrid Debate

Science policymakers in the United States can learn from the ultimate resolution of an intense debate that raged in Britain over the past year concerning the creation of human-nonhuman cytoplasmic hybrid embryos. These so called “cybrid” embryos offer a promising new way to continue embryonic stem cell research despite an egg shortage and to address ethical concerns associated with egg donation. Yet misconceptions in the British media almost derailed cybrid research.