Calendar of Events
Mark W.D.Paterson, PhD
Assistant Professor in Sociology
University of Pittsburgh
What is it like to see with your tongue? If there was a device which converted information from the visual world into tactile information on your back, say, or electrical patterns on the surface of your tongue, would this actually be ‘seeing’? So-called sensory substitution devices, especially Tactile-Visual Sensory Substitution (TVSS), have been in the news in recent years because they offer a technological solution to those personnel returning from foreign wars with damaged eyesight. One of them, the Tongue Display Unit (TDU) pioneered by the neuroscientist Paul Bach-y-Rita, has been tested on blind subjects, including here at UPMC.
Although the technology is fairly recent, it turns out that questions of seeing through other means have been around far longer. In 1688 William Molyneux, whose wife was blind, asked the philosopher John Locke a hypothetical question. If she were suddenly made to see, would she be able to tell objects such as a cube or a sphere apart without touching them first? This assumes a conceptual framework developed to theorize one sense modality can be generalized to other modalities. René Descartes had talked about blind men ‘seeing with the hands’, after all. More recently, evidence about neural plasticity from experiments on blind subjects and Braille by Pascual-Leone’s lab are challenging such assumptions about translatability between senses, and philosophers like Alva Noë ask whether TVSS equates with ‘seeing’ after all.
CF Reynolds Medical History Society
Joseph Losee, MD
Ross H. Musgrave Professor of Pediatric Plastic Surgery
University of Pittsburgh - Children's Hospital of UPMC
Academics interested in pedagogy and education rights meet with activists from the Education Rights Network to discuss: Do preconceptions about healthy learning (e.g. Special Education discourse) negatively impact students with disabilities? How are students with disabilities disproportionately affected by school disciplinary structures and philosophies, and how might implementing Universal Design for Learning help integrate students with disabilities into the classroom and lecture theater?
Visiting Professor in Bioethics & Public Health
Jeremy Sugarman, MD, MPH, MA
Harvey M. Meyerhoff Professor of Bioethics & Medicine
Professor of Medicine and of Health Policy & Management
Deputy Director for Medicine of the Johns Hopkins Berman
Institute of Bioethics
Jeremy Sugarman, MD, MPH, MA
Harvey M. Meyerhoff Professor of Bioethics and Medicine
Professor of Medicine and of Health Policy and Management
Deputy Director for Medicine of the Johns Hopkins Berman Institute of Bioethics
The HIV Organ Policy Equity (HOPE) Act now makes it possible to use HIV+ organs for transplantation into HIV+ recipients in the research setting. It is hypothesized that HIV+/HIV+ transplants will prove to be safe and effective, thereby providing a novel source of organs for people living with HIV who face high mortality on organ waitlists as well as alleviating the organ shortage more generally. However, the novel practice of HIV+/HIV+ transplantation raises substantial ethical issues that must be addressed for both recipients and donors related not only to access to organs, but also to risk and consent.
Furthermore, while both published federal research requirements for HIV+/HIV+ transplantation conducted under the HOPE Act and standard research practices at individual institutions (such as IRB review and oversight) offer basic ethical protections, these are necessarily limited by lack of substantial experience with these novel transplants. This session will include a brief review of what is scientifically known about novel HIV+/HIV+ organ transplants and the research provisions of the HOPE Act. This will be followed by a description of emerging empirical ethics data regarding HIV+/HIV+ transplants, including: a survey among patients living with HIV who are on an organ waitlist about their attitudes and beliefs about HIV+ transplants; in-depth qualitative information from the early recipients of HIV+/HIV+ transplants; interviews with independent recipient advocates; and an effort to develop patient-reported ethical outcome measures regarding these transplants.
Tom Sparrow, PhD
Assistant Professor of Philosophy
Slippery Rock University
In this talk, I argue that Jonathan Glover, a prominent advocate of human genetic engineering, relies on a limited naturalistic account of normal human function in his defense of genetic engineering as a means of decreasing future instances of disability. I show that his concept of disability and the normative argument informed by it in his Choosing Children: Genes, Disability, and Design fails to incorporate the phenomenological dimension of embodiment, and that this dimension should be included in any account of disability and human flourishing. Such inclusion, however, requires us to consider seriously the counterintuitive view that racial minorities are constitutionally disabled in racist societies.
Mark Follman, National Affairs Editor, Mother Jones
Adam Lankford, Professor of Criminology & Criminal Justice, The University of Alabama
Kelly McBride, Vice President, The Poynter Institute
Emma Beth McGinty, Assistant Professor of Health Policy and Management, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health
Edward P. Mulvey, PhD, Professor of Psychiatry, University of Pittsburgh
Russell Palarea, Founder and President of Operational Psychology Services, LLC
John “Jack” Rozel, Associate Professor of Psychiatry, University of Pittsburgh
Abstract: Considered a public health problem, gun violence is a threat to every dimension of health: it undermines physical, mental, and social well-being. Concern for the health and well-being of individuals and communities demands drawing attention to the causes and magnitude of this health risk. Yet media attention exacerbates some risks to physical and mental health. While homicide in many communities is a relatively neglected sociocultural phenomenon and health risk, mass shooting events capture public attention through 24-hour news cycles and social media platforms. Coverage of these events often leads to an implication that there can be only two explanations: extremism or illness. Media coverage frequently fuels the stigma of mental illness and false perceptions that people with mental illness are dangerous. Coverage also leads to copycat violence, clustering of violent events, and tactical mimicry by people considering such attacks. This symposium will bring together experts in mental health, violence prevention and public health, law and law enforcement, and media studies.
Medearis Lecture / Pediatric Grand Rounds
Sahar Sadjadi, PhD
Assistant Professor of Sexuality, Women's and Gender Studies, Anthropology and Sociology
In recent years, the field of clinical management of gender in children has rapidly expanded and new treatments for gender variant children have emerged. This lecture explores the ethical dilemmas surrounding the treatment of gender dysphoria in children. How did these clinical practices develop and how did children’s gender become a matter of medical attention? What are the implications of the existing clinical paradigms for the well-being and health of children brought under the clinical purview? What scientific and cultural notions of gender, identity and childhood shape these practices? In order to answer these question, Dr. Sadjadi will situate children’s gender discontent in the larger socio-cultural context of their lives, and argues that broadening the analytical lens to include all children, not only gender non-conforming and transgender children, orients us towards a more complex understanding of the ethical issues facing clinicians. Finally, this lecture will suggest certain affirmative practices for pediatricians and other care providers, which neither dissuade children’s cross-gender interests nor promote a rush to medical interventions.
Sahar Sadjadi, PhD, MD
Assistant Professor of Sexuality, Women's and Gender Studies and of
Anthropology and Sociology
During the past few years, the introduction and rapid acceptance of “puberty suppression” has transformed the clinical treatment of gender variance in children. Based on an ethnographic study of the field of pediatric gender management, this lecture offers a brief history of puberty suppression and explores the affective and temporal politics of this medical intervention.
Gender, Sexuality, and Women’s Studies / Bioethics Lecture
Jamie Zelazny, PhD, MPH, RN
Department of Psychiatry
University of Pittsburgh
Social media provides a window into the mental health of adolescents. Interpersonal relationships, bullying, and social connectedness are just a few examples of behaviors that can be explored on social media. Natural language processing and machine learning techniques are now being used evaluate social media posts by identifying words associated with suicidal risk. However, many ethical issues must be considered before undertaking this type of research. Using a case study approach, this talk will illustrate ethical issues that we are currently facing in our research of adolescent social media usage and will suggest potential protections against risk. First, I will address issues surrounding informed consent. In the state of Pennsylvania, children age 14 and older are legally able to consent for their own mental health treatment. Is it appropriate to waive parental permission for this type of research? Is child assent sufficient? Next, I will address ethical concerns about accessing social media in mental health research with teens. How should information posted by social media "friends" who have not consented to participate in research be handled? How should photographs be handled? Finally, I will discuss reporting issues. Should any information be reported back to parents? What information should be reported to therapists? Mandated reporter laws address the need to report imminent danger to self or others and child abuse, but how should risky behaviors be handled that fall into more “gray” areas, such as alcohol and substance use, bullying, and “sexting” behavior?
Lunch will be served; RSVP is required
Alice Dreger, PhD
Clinical Professor of Medical Humanities and Bioethics
Feinberg School of Medicine
The intersex patient rights movement has been in existence for about thirty years. What have been the goals, and what has actually been achieved? Why has reaching those goals been so difficult, even when what is being sought—age-appropriate, honest information about medical histories; obtaining patients’ consent before optional sexual surgeries; meaningful psycho-social care—seems so reasonable? After a basic introduction to intersex (i.e., when a person is born with a body that isn’t standard male or standard female), this talk will explore these questions. The speaker is the former Chair of the Board of Directors of the Intersex Society of North America and has worked with various groups, including the Association of American Medical Colleges, to try to improve care for people born intersex.
Gender, Sexuality and Women's Studies / Medical Humanities / Bioethics Lecture
Prenatal Dexamethasone for CAH: How Safe Are Pregnant Women and Fetuses in Our Medical System?
Alice Dreger, PhD
Author of The Talk: Helping Your Kids Navigate Sex in the Real World (2016), One of Us: Cojoined Twins and the Future of Normal (2004), and Hermaphrodites and the Medical Invention of Sex (1998).
CF Reynolds Medical History Society
Gregory Anstead, MD, PhD
Division of Infectious Diseases, Department of Medicine
University of Texas Health Science Center
APPE Call for Submissions invites individuals from all disciplines and professions interested in advancing scholarship, teaching and a general understanding of practical and professional ethics to submit presentations, case studies, pedagogical demonstrations, creative arts, posters, etc no later than October 27, 2017. One individual submission per person will be accepted. Submissions are invited on ethical issues in all fields including business, engineering, government, media, law, medicine and science and technology as well as interdisciplinary and multi-disciplinary issues that cut across professions such as biomedical, educational, environmental, public health and research.
Family caregiver, journalist, and author of Knocking on Heaven's Door
How do you take the “straw” of ordinary personal experience and transform it into the “gold” of a polished essay that is a gift to the reader? How do you tell your truth without harming others? Journalist Katy Butler will discuss how she wrote her critically-acclaimed medical memoir, Knocking on Heaven’s Door. The book, based on a New York Times Magazine story that went viral, recounts her aged father’s prolonged decline, and her struggle to deactivate the pacemaker she felt was depriving him of a good death. Katy will give tips on how to write your own powerful, truthful, even seemingly dangerous medical essay or memoir.
Medical Humanities Mondays Lecture