Our Summer Non-Vacation

September 23, 2019 • Posted in Blog

D. Joy Riley, M.D., M.A.
Executive Director

“What I did on my summer vacation” is an assignment many of us have had to complete in the late Augusts or early Septembers of our lives, when we returned to school after the summer break. Given that Summer 2019 has just ended (although the high temperatures have yet to abate), an update on our activities is in order:

21 June 2019 — First Day of Summer

We hosted “Chicago Meets New York: Dinner and a Movie” at the Center for Bioethics & Human Dignity’s 26th international bioethics conference on the campus of Trinity International University outside Chicago. The menu featured Chicago vs New York pizza, Brats vs Coney Islands, and gelato for dessert. We screened Three Identical Strangers for 100+ academics, chaplains, lawyers, nurses, physicians, scientists, students, and others.

A few of the responses:

“Thanks again . . . for this great movie-themed evening of fellowship, fun food, and a very thought-provoking movie. It was well done.” Dr. T., France
“Thanks so much . . . for the opportunity to watch the movie during the conference. I had not watched or heard about it until then. I am still thinking about it and was able to watch it again when I came back. . .” Chaplain C., eastern U.S.
“. . . thank you . . . for sponsoring Three Identical Strangers . . . It is a haunting documentary with more personal intensity than usually experienced from similar documentaries. It resisted answers or explanations beyond the sketchy facts, such that these three men remain, sharing their quandary and loss which is the impact of their account . . .” Nurse N., western U.S.
 “What a delightful evening you and the Tennessee Center for Bioethics & Culture provided for so many of us . . . The movie reminds us that all research begins from a human idea, be it moral & ethical or otherwise . . .”
Dr. L., Texas

Summer 2019 Writings


“In Favor of Organ Donation?”

The Department of Health & Social Care of GOV.UK recently notified its email subscribers of a new law regarding organ donation in England. Beginning in 2020, “Everyone in England over the age of 18 will be considered to be in favour of donating their organs and tissues after death unless . . . (Read more at CMDA’s The Point blog.)

“Embryonic Legerdemain?”

Developmental biologist Lewis Wolpert is credited with saying, “It is not birth, marriage, or death, but gastrulation which is truly the most important time in your life.” Gastrulation, simply put, means the embryo develops an axis and distinctly different cell layers. In the human embryo, gastrulation takes place during the third week post-fertilization. Formation of endoderm occurs over days 14-15, and the mesoderm begins to appear on day 16 (see Figure 1-11 here). Ali Brivanlou, of New York’s Rockefeller University, identifies gastrulation, or the breaking of symmetry in the embryo, as the “major Holy Grail of developmental biology.” (Read more at Bioethics at TIU.)

“Decrying Human Fetal Tissue Research Justification”

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) released on 26 July “Changes to NIH Requirements Regarding Proposed Human Fetal Tissue Research.” A new bullet point is required for “Human Fetal Tissue Research Approach.” The applicant for funds is obliged to justify the use of human fetal tissue (HFT) in proposed research . . . (Read more at Bioethics at TIU.)

“Who is Juan Carlos Izpisúa Belmonte?”

Dr. Juan Carlos Izpisúa Belmonte is trained in pharmacy and biochemistry and is a professor at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in La Jolla, California, in the Gene Expression Laboratories. He has been at the Salk Institute since 1993. He also held a position in Spain during 10 of those years. He helped found the Barcelona Regenerative Medicine Center (CMRB), a stem cell research institution, in 2004. He left the CMRB director’s post in 2014, citing lack of funding and support from the government. Of the center’s 21 projects, he took 18 with him, for they were his intellectual property. (Read more at CMDA’s The Point.)

“Whose Body?”

In 1923, Dorothy L. Sayers published her first mystery featuring Lord Peter Wimsey, entitled Whose Body? The concern was that an adult body, wearing only a pince-nez, had been found in someone’s bathtub. Whose body was this? Was it the body of a well-known financier, who had recently disappeared? Or was it the body of someone else? Whose deceased body was this? Slightly less than one hundred years later, the nation that Sayers called home has answered that question. (Read more at Bioethics at TIU.)