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Understanding Bioethical Concerns of Laboratory Research: A Case Study On Discovering Programmed Necrosis Pathways

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The concept of “good” research is concrete in terms of technique, but complex in theory. As technology advances, the complexity of problems we must solve also grows. Research is facing an ethical dilemma—which projects, applied or basic, should be funded.

The concept of “good” research is concrete in terms of technique, but complex in theory. As technology advances, the complexity of problems we must solve also grows. Research is facing an ethical dilemma—which projects, applied or basic, should be funded. Research is no longer an isolated sector in society, and the decisions made inside of the laboratory are affecting the general public more directly than ever before. While there is no correct answer to what the future of research should be, it is clear that good research can no longer be only defined by the current classification system, which is rooted in antiquated, yet ingrained, social status distinctions.
Differences between basic and applied research were explored through a wet-lab case study. Vaccinia virus (VACV) infections are a prime model of the competition between a virus and its host. VACV contains a gene that is highly evasive of the host immune system, gene E3L. The protein encoded by E3L is E3, which contains two highly conserved regions, a C-terminus, and a N-terminus. While the C-terminus is well-understood, the mechanism by which the N-terminus grants IFN resistance was previously unknown. This project demonstrated that the N-terminus prevents the initiation of programmed necrosis through host-encoded cellular proteins RIP3 and DAI. These findings provide insight into the function of the N-terminus of E3, as well as the unique functions of induced programmed necrosis.
This project was an example of “basic” research. However, it highlights the interconnectivity of basic and applied research and the danger in isolating both projects and perspectives. It points to the difficult decisions that must be made in science, and the need for a better research classification system that considers what makes science “good” outside of antiquated social class ideologies that have shaped science since ancient Greece. While there are no easy answers to determine what makes research “good,” thinking critically about the types of research projects that will be pursued, and the effects that research has on both science and society, will raise awareness, initiate new conversations, and encourage more dialogue about science in the 21st century.

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2016-12

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The Market For Bodies: Investigating the Landscape of Nontransplant Anatomical Donation Organizations

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While there is extensive information available about organizations that receive donated organs for transplant, much less is known about those that accept tissue and whole bodies for medical education and research. Throughout the United States, nontransplant anatomical donation organizations exist

While there is extensive information available about organizations that receive donated organs for transplant, much less is known about those that accept tissue and whole bodies for medical education and research. Throughout the United States, nontransplant anatomical donation organizations exist within an ambiguous sector of the donation industry, unencumbered by federal regulations. Although these companies adhere to the Uniform Anatomical Gift Act, the lack of a single entity responsible for overseeing their operations has led to public skepticism and animosity among competing businesses. Legislation has the potential to legitimize the industry. For it to be successful, however, the intricacies of a complex market that deals directly with the movement of human remains and intangible issues of human integrity and morality, must be thoroughly understood.

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2015-05

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Science and Social Governance: Lessons from the Human Genome Editing Debate

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This thesis responds to the question, "Can Science Make Sense of Life?" through a structural lens of the Human Germline Genetic Editing debate. I explore who is absent from the table, and how the ways of thinking that dominate marginalize

This thesis responds to the question, "Can Science Make Sense of Life?" through a structural lens of the Human Germline Genetic Editing debate. I explore who is absent from the table, and how the ways of thinking that dominate marginalize and exclude alternative frameworks and considerations. This analysis is centered around an examination of several perspectives from the disability community and an in-depth study of how the Orthodox Jewish community contends with genetic disease. These perspectives illuminate several lessons that prove to bring insight not merely to questions of permissibility on genetic editing, but also offer reflections on the larger relationship between science, technology, and society. I then return to the mainstream genetic editing debate to show how the culture it is born out of and the structures it has ingrained prevent lessons such as these from impacting the conversation. In light of such structures that continuously reproduce the assertion that it is science, not humanity, that is able to make sense of life, my final argument is that though science tends to gatekeep questions of emerging technologies by centering conversations on highly advanced and methodological considerations, public individuals need not feel as if they are irrelevant or unessential. Though science may offer one solution, it is the individuals and communities, not results from a lab, that are equipped to determine if it is the best solution.

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2021-05

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Diagnosing Autism Spectrum Disorder: Implications for Research, Medicine, and Patients

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Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a lifelong neurodevelopmental disorder that is becoming increasingly common. Autism does not yet have a known etiology, nor a definitive diagnostic test, thus making diagnosis a difficult and rarely uniform task. Currently, ASD is behaviorally

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a lifelong neurodevelopmental disorder that is becoming increasingly common. Autism does not yet have a known etiology, nor a definitive diagnostic test, thus making diagnosis a difficult and rarely uniform task. Currently, ASD is behaviorally diagnosed based on criteria defined by the American Psychiatric Association in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM). Recently, a change was made in the criteria from more lenient criteria in DSM-IV-TR, to more narrow criteria laid out by the DSM-V, which supersedes the DSM-IV-TR. This drastic change raised many questions and debates about which set of criteria are better. The more lenient criteria offers a more inclusive diagnosis giving greater access to therapies; while the narrow diagnostic criteria excludes some individuals, creating a more uniform diagnosis that's easier to use in research. This thesis analyzes the change in diagnostic criteria from the DSM-IV-TR to the DSM-V and the effects of these changes on the practices of diagnosis. In addition, it explores the implications of this change for the families of children with autism and for those involved in autism research, examining their respective opinions and interests pertaining to narrow verses broad diagnostic criteria. Building on this analysis, the thesis offers recommendations about diagnostic criteria should be set. It argues that the wellbeing of patients takes priority over the interests of researchers, and thus diagnosis should be done in a way that offers the best prognosis for all children who suffer from autistic symptoms.

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2016-12