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Tennessee Legislative Update: Commercial Surrogacy and a Pot of Gold

April 17, 2021 • Posted in Blog

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

References to pots of gold usually occur in the month of March, and involve leprechauns and rainbows. This year, pots of gold figure in at least one set of companion bills (House Bill No. 1379 and Senate Bill No. 425) the Tennessee Legislature is transforming into law. Instead of leprechauns and rainbows, though, it is the fertility physicians/clinics and “third-party reproductive care for the benefit of the enrollee(s).” The pots of gold are to be provided by “insurance companies,” which means, of course, “the insured,” which would include all of us who pay insurance ...read more

A Tale of Two Data Scientists

March 25, 2021 • Posted in Blog

 

Neil Ferguson, Ph.D. Infamous Graph Youyang Gu

 

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

It was a long year ago (March 2020) that a dire prediction was issued by a group at Imperial College London (UK) regarding the possible effects of the novel coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2. The model predicted more than 500,000 UK deaths, and >2.2 million deaths in the U.S. by summer if no action were taken. One of the data scientists issuing that proclamation was Neil Ferguson, Ph.D. He and his group advised the government that “in the UK and US context, suppression will minimally require a combination of social distancing of the entire ...read more

When Breath Is (Not Enough) Air: Let’s Talk about Ventilators

June 11, 2020 • Posted in Blog

There has been much public discussion about ventilators amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. It is humbling to consider that we, or someone we love, might require one. Most people know something about the benefit of a ventilator when needed; but how well do we really understand the functions and risks of mechanical ventilation? The pandemic presents an opportune time to learn about this. So I posed a series of questions about these machines and the processes involved in using them to a physician, who is a specialist in using ventilators to treat very ill patients. Those questions, and her answers, follow.  

1) ...read more

When the Foundations Are Wobbling, Part II

May 22, 2020 • Posted in Blog

 

Death Certificates and COVID-19

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

One of the tasks assigned to physicians is the completion of death certificates—at least, the portion of death certificates that list cause of death (COD). I learned the importance of accuracy of death certificate completion as a pathology student fellow, an extra year of pathology training in the middle of my medical school career. We were instructed never to use the mechanism of death, such as cardiac or respiratory arrest, as a cause of death. Additionally, the use of terms like “probable” or “suspected” were not allowed. After all, the goal of ...read more

When the Foundations Are Wobbling, Part I

April 27, 2020 • Posted in Blog

 

The Denominator of Death Rates

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

How many people in the U.S. have died of SARS-CoV-2 infection, or COVID-19? That is difficult to say, and not for lack of numbers on the website of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The case fatality rate for a particular disease is, basically, the number of persons dying of a disease, divided by the number of persons who have the disease, and multiplied by 100, to give an answer in terms of percentage:

# persons dying of COVID-19 disease X 100 # persons infected with SARS-CoV-2

How is this complicated? ...read more

Flourishing in the Midst of Crisis

March 30, 2020 • Posted in Blog

 

Focus on the “Local”

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

It may seem ironic in this time of coronavirus* epidemic that The Tennessee Center for Bioethics & Culture’s theme for 2020 is Human Flourishing. Of course, the theme was chosen before the populace was on such intimate terms with the infection. The theme was also chosen before tornadoes** struck Middle Tennessee; before we knew we would need a hefty dose of encouragement in 2020. In this month’s post, several Tennesseans are featured. From a pharmacist in western Tennessee to a group of studio singers in Music City, these can help us to ...read more

Flourishing . . . In a Time of Debate

February 27, 2020 • Posted in Blog

Ben Voth, Ph.D., associate professor of corporate communications and public affairs at Southern Methodist University, is also director of debate at SMU. His book, James Farmer, Jr.: The Great Debater (Lanham, MD: Lexington Books, 2017) provides exemplars of debate from the previous century – ones from whom we could learn much today. Voth’s book is not a biography of James Farmer, Jr., but a dissection of how Farmer, reared by his capable parents (his father was both a minister and a professor) and trained by Melvin Tolson at Wiley College, used rhetoric properly fitted to action to change the world. ...read more

COVID-19 in Wuhan: Plea for Help Retracted

February 27, 2020 • Posted in Blog

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

One thing is clear: COVID-19, the newest coronavirus to infect humans, has our attention. Locally, people planning to travel—almost anywhere—are wondering about where to obtain face masks. As of Tuesday of this week, reports the New York Times, the United States had 57 cases, with 40 of those related to the Diamond Princess cruise ship that docked in Japan. The NYT article further reported,

  “We cannot hermetically seal off the United States to a virus,” Alex M. Azar II, the secretary of health and human services, told a Senate panel on Tuesday. “And we need to ...read more

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 ...read more

Transgenic Monkeys: Coming to a Lab Near You?

April 30, 2019 • Posted in Blog

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

The initial draft sequence of the chimpanzee genome was published in September 2005 – in comparison with the human genome. A few months later, geneticist James M. Sikela wrote in PLOS Genetics, “the genes and genetic changes that are responsible for making the human brain what it is and for allowing it to do what it uniquely does, have long been among the most prized jewels of our genome.” In that paper, Sikela considered how one could locate the changes in the genome that account for “human-specific cognitive abilities.” How could one prove that a ...read more