Matching Items (20)

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Global bioethics: a descriptive analysis of the function of bioethics in health and medicine on a global scale

Description

This thesis explores concept of "global bioethics" in both its development as well as its current state in an effort to understand exactly where it fits into the larger field

This thesis explores concept of "global bioethics" in both its development as well as its current state in an effort to understand exactly where it fits into the larger field of bioethics. Further, the analysis poses specific questions regarding what it may contribute to this field and related fields, and the possibility and scope associated with the continued development of global bioethics as its own discipline. To achieve this, the piece addresses questions regarding current opinions on the subject, the authorities and their associated publications related to global bioethics, and what the aims of the subject should be given its current state. "Global Bioethics" is a term that, while seen frequently in bioethics literature, is difficult to define succinctly. While many opinions are provided on the concept, little consensus exists regarding its application and possible contributions and, in some cases, even its very possibility. Applying ethical principles of health and medicine globally is undoubtedly complicated by the cultural, social, and geographical considerations associated with understanding health and medicine in different populations, leading to a dichotomy between two schools of thought in relation to global bioethics. These two sides consist of those who think that universality of bioethics is possible whereas the opposing viewpoint holds that relativism is the key to applying ethics on a global scale. Despite the aforementioned dichotomy in addressing applications of global bioethics, this analysis shows that the goals of the subject should be more focused on contributing to ethical frameworks and valuable types of thinking related to the ethics health and medicine on a global scale. This is achieved through an exploration of bioethics in general, health as a function of society and culture, the history and development of global bioethics itself, and an exploration of pertinent global health topics. While primarily descriptive in nature, this analysis critiques some of the current discussions and purported goals surrounding global bioethics, recommending that the field focus on fostering valuable discussion and framing of issues rather than the pursuit of concrete judgments on moral issues in global health and medicine.

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  • 2011

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Transnational commercial gestational surrogacy: cultural constructions of motherhood and their role in the development of national Indian guidelines

Description

The advent of advanced reproductive technologies has sparked a number of ethical concerns regarding the practices of reproductive tourism and commercial gestational surrogacy. In the past few decades, reproductive tourism

The advent of advanced reproductive technologies has sparked a number of ethical concerns regarding the practices of reproductive tourism and commercial gestational surrogacy. In the past few decades, reproductive tourism has become a global industry in which individuals or couples travel, usually across borders, to gain access to reproductive services. This marketable field has expanded commercial gestational surrogacy--defined by a contractual relationship between an intending couple and gestational surrogate in which the surrogate has no genetic tie to fetus--to take on transnational complexities. India has experienced extreme growth due to a preferable combination of western educated doctors and extremely low medical costs. However, a slew of ethical issues have been brought to the forefront: the big ones manifesting as concern for reduction of a woman's worth to her reproductive capabilities along with concern for exploitation of third world women. This project will be based exclusively on literature review and serves primarily as a call for cultural competency and understanding the circumstances that gestational surrogates are faced with before implementing policy regulating commercial gestational surrogacy. The paper argues that issues of exploitation and commodification hinge on constructions of motherhood. It is critical to define and understand definitions of motherhood and how these definitions affect a woman's approach to reproduction within the cultural context of a gestational surrogate. This paper follows the case study of the Akanksha Infertility Clinic in northern India, a surrogacy clinic housing around 50 Indian surrogates. The findings of the project invokes the critical significance of narrative ethics, which help Indian surrogates construct the practice of surrogacy so that it fits into cultural comprehensions of Indian motherhood--in which motherhood is selfless, significant, and shared.

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  • 2011

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Electrocorticographica analysis of spontaneous conversation to localize receptive and expressive language areas

Description

When surgical resection becomes necessary to alleviate a patient's epileptiform activity, that patient is monitored by video synchronized with electrocorticography (ECoG) to determine the type and location of seizure focus.

When surgical resection becomes necessary to alleviate a patient's epileptiform activity, that patient is monitored by video synchronized with electrocorticography (ECoG) to determine the type and location of seizure focus. This provides a unique opportunity for researchers to gather neurophysiological data with high temporal and spatial resolution; these data are assessed prior to surgical resection to ensure the preservation of the patient's quality of life, e.g. avoid the removal of brain tissue required for speech processing. Currently considered the "gold standard" for the mapping of cortex, electrical cortical stimulation (ECS) involves the systematic activation of pairs of electrodes to localize functionally specific brain regions. This method has distinct limitations, which often includes pain experienced by the patient. Even in the best cases, the technique suffers from subjective assessments on the parts of both patients and physicians, and high inter- and intra-observer variability. Recent advances have been made as researchers have reported the localization of language areas through several signal processing methodologies, all necessitating patient participation in a controlled experiment. The development of a quantification tool to localize speech areas in which a patient is engaged in an unconstrained interpersonal conversation would eliminate the dependence of biased patient and reviewer input, as well as unnecessary discomfort to the patient. Post-hoc ECoG data were gathered from five patients with intractable epilepsy while each was engaged in a conversation with family members or clinicians. After the data were separated into different speech conditions, the power of each was compared to baseline to determine statistically significant activated electrodes. The results of several analytical methods are presented here. The algorithms did not yield language-specific areas exclusively, as broad activation of statistically significant electrodes was apparent across cortical areas. For one patient, 15 adjacent contacts along superior temporal gyrus (STG) and posterior part of the temporal lobe were determined language-significant through a controlled experiment. The task involved a patient lying in bed listening to repeated words, and yielded statistically significant activations that aligned with those of clinical evaluation. The results of this study do not support the hypothesis that unconstrained conversation may be used to localize areas required for receptive and productive speech, yet suggests a simple listening task may be an adequate alternative to direct cortical stimulation.

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  • 2013

Intracortical microstimulation of somatosensory cortex: functional encoding and localization of neuronal recruitment

Description

Intracortical microstimulation (ICMS) within somatosensory cortex can produce artificial sensations including touch, pressure, and vibration. There is significant interest in using ICMS to provide sensory feedback for a prosthetic limb.

Intracortical microstimulation (ICMS) within somatosensory cortex can produce artificial sensations including touch, pressure, and vibration. There is significant interest in using ICMS to provide sensory feedback for a prosthetic limb. In such a system, information recorded from sensors on the prosthetic would be translated into electrical stimulation and delivered directly to the brain, providing feedback about features of objects in contact with the prosthetic. To achieve this goal, multiple simultaneous streams of information will need to be encoded by ICMS in a manner that produces robust, reliable, and discriminable sensations. The first segment of this work focuses on the discriminability of sensations elicited by ICMS within somatosensory cortex. Stimulation on multiple single electrodes and near-simultaneous stimulation across multiple electrodes, driven by a multimodal tactile sensor, were both used in these experiments. A SynTouch BioTac sensor was moved across a flat surface in several directions, and a subset of the sensor's electrode impedance channels were used to drive multichannel ICMS in the somatosensory cortex of a non-human primate. The animal performed a behavioral task during this stimulation to indicate the discriminability of sensations evoked by the electrical stimulation. The animal's responses to ICMS were somewhat inconsistent across experimental sessions but indicated that discriminable sensations were evoked by both single and multichannel ICMS. The factors that affect the discriminability of stimulation-induced sensations are not well understood, in part because the relationship between ICMS and the neural activity it induces is poorly defined. The second component of this work was to develop computational models that describe the populations of neurons likely to be activated by ICMS. Models of several neurons were constructed, and their responses to ICMS were calculated. A three-dimensional cortical model was constructed using these cell models and used to identify the populations of neurons likely to be recruited by ICMS. Stimulation activated neurons in a sparse and discontinuous fashion; additionally, the type, number, and location of neurons likely to be activated by stimulation varied with electrode depth.

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  • 2013

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Towards haptic intelligence for artificial hands: development and use of deformable, fluidic tactile sensors to relate action and perception

Description

Human fingertips contain thousands of specialized mechanoreceptors that enable effortless physical interactions with the environment. Haptic perception capabilities enable grasp and manipulation in the absence of visual feedback, as when

Human fingertips contain thousands of specialized mechanoreceptors that enable effortless physical interactions with the environment. Haptic perception capabilities enable grasp and manipulation in the absence of visual feedback, as when reaching into one's pocket or wrapping a belt around oneself. Unfortunately, state-of-the-art artificial tactile sensors and processing algorithms are no match for their biological counterparts. Tactile sensors must not only meet stringent practical specifications for everyday use, but their signals must be processed and interpreted within hundreds of milliseconds. Control of artificial manipulators, ranging from prosthetic hands to bomb defusal robots, requires a constant reliance on visual feedback that is not entirely practical. To address this, we conducted three studies aimed at advancing artificial haptic intelligence. First, we developed a novel, robust, microfluidic tactile sensor skin capable of measuring normal forces on flat or curved surfaces, such as a fingertip. The sensor consists of microchannels in an elastomer filled with a liquid metal alloy. The fluid serves as both electrical interconnects and tunable capacitive sensing units, and enables functionality despite substantial deformation. The second study investigated the use of a commercially-available, multimodal tactile sensor (BioTac sensor, SynTouch) to characterize edge orientation with respect to a body fixed reference frame, such as a fingertip. Trained on data from a robot testbed, a support vector regression model was developed to relate haptic exploration actions to perception of edge orientation. The model performed comparably to humans for estimating edge orientation. Finally, the robot testbed was used to perceive small, finger-sized geometric features. The efficiency and accuracy of different haptic exploratory procedures and supervised learning models were assessed for estimating feature properties such as type (bump, pit), order of curvature (flat, conical, spherical), and size. This study highlights the importance of tactile sensing in situations where other modalities fail, such as when the finger itself blocks line of sight. Insights from this work could be used to advance tactile sensor technology and haptic intelligence for artificial manipulators that improve quality of life, such as prosthetic hands and wheelchair-mounted robotic hands.

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  • 2013

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Single-unit responses in somatosensory cortex to precision grip of textured surfaces

Description

In the past decade, research on the motor control side of neuroprosthetics has steadily gained momentum. However, modern research in prosthetic development supplements a focus on motor control with a

In the past decade, research on the motor control side of neuroprosthetics has steadily gained momentum. However, modern research in prosthetic development supplements a focus on motor control with a concentration on sensory feedback. Simulating sensation is a central issue because without sensory capabilities, the sophistication of the most advanced motor control system fails to reach its full potential. This research is an effort toward the development of sensory feedback specifically for neuroprosthetic hands. The present aim of this work is to understand the processing and representation of cutaneous sensation by evaluating performance and neural activity in somatosensory cortex (SI) during a grasp task. A non-human primate (Macaca mulatta) was trained to reach out and grasp textured instrumented objects with a precision grip. Two different textures for the objects were used, 100% cotton cloth and 60-grade sandpaper, and the target object was presented at two different orientations. Of the 167 cells that were isolated for this experiment, only 42 were recorded while the subject executed a few blocks of successful trials for both textures. These latter cells were used in this study's statistical analysis. Of these, 37 units (88%) exhibited statistically significant task related activity. Twenty-two units (52%) exhibited statistically significant tuning to texture, and 16 units (38%) exhibited statistically significant tuning to posture. Ten of the cells (24%) exhibited statistically significant tuning to both texture and posture. These data suggest that single units in somatosensory cortex can encode multiple phenomena such as texture and posture. However, if this information is to be used to provide sensory feedback for a prosthesis, scientists must learn to further parse cortical activity to discover how to induce specific modalities of sensation. Future experiments should therefore be developed that probe more variables and that more systematically and comprehensively scan somatosensory cortex. This will allow researchers to seek out the existence or non-existence of cortical pockets reserved for certain modalities of sensation, which will be valuable in learning how to later provide appropriate sensory feedback for a prosthesis through cortical stimulation.

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Date Created
  • 2011

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Multi-directional slip detection between artificial fingers and a grasped object

Description

Effective tactile sensing in prosthetic and robotic hands is crucial for improving the functionality of such hands and enhancing the user's experience. Thus, improving the range of tactile sensing capabilities

Effective tactile sensing in prosthetic and robotic hands is crucial for improving the functionality of such hands and enhancing the user's experience. Thus, improving the range of tactile sensing capabilities is essential for developing versatile artificial hands. Multimodal tactile sensors called BioTacs, which include a hydrophone and a force electrode array, were used to understand how grip force, contact angle, object texture, and slip direction may be encoded in the sensor data. Findings show that slip induced under conditions of high contact angles and grip forces resulted in significant changes in both AC and DC pressure magnitude and rate of change in pressure. Slip induced under conditions of low contact angles and grip forces resulted in significant changes in the rate of change in electrode impedance. Slip in the distal direction of a precision grip caused significant changes in pressure magnitude and rate of change in pressure, while slip in the radial direction of the wrist caused significant changes in the rate of change in electrode impedance. A strong relationship was established between slip direction and the rate of change in ratios of electrode impedance for radial and ulnar slip relative to the wrist. Consequently, establishing multiple thresholds or establishing a multivariate model may be a useful method for detecting and characterizing slip. Detecting slip for low contact angles could be done by monitoring electrode data, while detecting slip for high contact angles could be done by monitoring pressure data. Predicting slip in the distal direction could be done by monitoring pressure data, while predicting slip in the radial and ulnar directions could be done by monitoring electrode data.

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Date Created
  • 2012

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Assessing corporate bioethics: a qualitative exploration of how bioethics is enacted in biomedicine companies

Description

Corporations in biomedicine hold significant power and influence, in both political and personal spheres. The decisions these companies make about ethics are critically important, as they help determine what products

Corporations in biomedicine hold significant power and influence, in both political and personal spheres. The decisions these companies make about ethics are critically important, as they help determine what products are developed, how they are developed, how they are promoted, and potentially even how they are regulated. In the last fifteen years, for-profit private companies have been assembling bioethics committees to help resolve dilemmas that require informed deliberation about ethical, legal, scientific, and economic considerations. Private sector bioethics committees represent an important innovation in the governance of emerging technologies, with corporations taking a lead role in deciding what is ethically appropriate or problematic. And yet, we know very little about these committees, including their structures, memberships, mandates, authority, and impact. Drawing on an extensive literature review and qualitative analysis of semi-structured interviews with executives, scientists and board members, this dissertation provides an in-depth analysis of the Ethics and Public Policy Board at SmithKline Beecham, the Ethics Advisory Board at Advanced Cell Technology, and the Bioethics Committee at Eli Lilly and offers insights about how ideas of bioethics and governance are currently imagined and enacted within corporations. The SmithKline Beecham board was the first private sector bioethics committee; its mandate was to explore, in a comprehensive and balanced analysis, the ethics of macro trends in science and technology. The Advanced Cell Technology board was created to be like a watchdog for the company, to prevent them from making major errors. The Eli Lilly board is different than the others in that it is made up mostly of internal employees and does research ethics consultations within the company. These private sector bioethics committees evaluate and construct new boundaries between their private interests and the public values they claim to promote. Findings from this dissertation show that criticisms of private sector bioethics that focus narrowly on financial conflicts of interest and a lack of transparency obscure analysis of the ideas about governance (about expertise, credibility and authority) that emerge from these structures and hamper serious debate about the possible impacts of moving ethical deliberation from the public to the private sector.

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  • 2012

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The Human Genome Project and ELSI: the imperative of technology and the reduction of the public ethics debate

Description

In the past century, a number of technological projects have been undertaken as grand solutions to social problems. In the so called century of biology, this technological world view focuses

In the past century, a number of technological projects have been undertaken as grand solutions to social problems. In the so called century of biology, this technological world view focuses on biomedical advances. The President of the United States, who once called for nuclear weapons and space exploration, now calls for new biotechnologies, such as genomics, individualized medicine, and nanotechnology, which will improve the world by improving our biological lives. Portrayed as the Manhattan Project of the late 20th Century, the Human Genome Project (HGP) not only undertook the science of sequencing the human genome but also the ethics of it. For this thesis I ask how the HGP did this; what was the range of possibilities of goods and evils imagined by the HGP; and what, if anything, was left out. I show that the Ethical, Legal, and Social Implications (ELSI) research program of the HGP was inscribed with the competencies of the professional field of bioethics, which had lent itself useful for governing biomedical science and technology earlier in the 20th century. Drawing on a sociological framework for understanding the development of professional bioethics, I describe the development of ELSI, and I note how the given-in-advance boundaries between authorized/unauthorized questions shaped its formation and biased technologically based conceptualizations of social problems and potential solutions. In this sense, the HGP and ELSI served both as the ends of policy and as instruments of self-legitimation, thus re-inscribing and enacting the structures for these powerful sociotechnical imaginaries. I engage the HGP and ELSI through historical, sociological, and political philosophical analysis, by examining their immediate context of the NIH, the meso level of professional/disciplinary bioethics, and the larger context of American democracy and modernity. My argument is simultaneously a claim about how questions are asked and how knowledge and expertise are made, exposing the relationship between the HGP and ELSI as a mutually constitutive and reciprocally related form of coproduction of knowledge and social structures. I finish by arguing that ELSI is in a better position than bioethics to carry out the original project of that field, i.e., to provide a space to elucidate certain institutionally authorized questions about science and technology. Finally, I venture into making a prophecy about the future of ELSI and bioethics: that the former will replace the latter as a locus for only formally rational and thin ethical debates.

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  • 2012

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Ethicist-scientist interactions: analysis of current methods and an anthropological account of the life in the laboratory

Description

Within ethics, a number of scholars advocate an interdisciplinary approach of combining the two traditionally different professions of science and philosophy with the confidence that this collaboration will be a

Within ethics, a number of scholars advocate an interdisciplinary approach of combining the two traditionally different professions of science and philosophy with the confidence that this collaboration will be a mutually beneficial experience. Current ethicist-scientist interactions include embedded-ethicists and research ethics consultation services. Both methods are employed with the hope that they will reduce social and ethical problems that could arise from scientific research, and enhance the reflective capacity of investigative teams. While much effort has been put forth in the endeavor of creating ethicist-scientist interactions, there remains opportunity to refine these new interaction models to make them more robust. There is need for ethicists to understand the context of ethical decision-making in the laboratory. By extension, before interacting with scientists in a research lab, research ethicists ought to have the ability to understand the science and also be familiar with the different factors that influence scientific research, such as funding, productivity requirements, time constraints, politics of laboratories and institutional reward structures. Through literature review and the analysis of qualitative data obtained from the ethnographic study in a neuroscience laboratory, this thesis explores the strengths and weaknesses of ethicist-scientist interactions and aims to understand the culture, traditions and values of this community and their perspectives on their role as scientists and their relationship to ethics. This study shows that the quantity and quality of ethics discussions in the lab are limited and dictated by time constraints and minimal incentives. Other influencing factors are the researchers' perspectives on ethics and how they view their role as a scientist in relation to the public.

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  • 2012