We aim to develop a new, practicum-based science ethics training program which will be particularly appropriate for the diverse, practically oriented student population at the University of Houston. This project, "Experiencing Ethics," is funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF). Click here to read more about this effort.


News

Dr. Ioanna Semendeferi (co-PI in this grant) has been elected to the Executive Board of the National Institute for Engineering Ethics (NIEE). NIEE is one of the premier ethics organizations in this country, dedicated to advance the understanding and practice of ethics within the engineering profession.



Seminar

The Decision to Put David Vetter in the Bubble

Dr. James H. Jones

Apr 16, 2014
11:00 A.M. - 12:30 P.M.
232 Philip G. Hoffman Hall

David Vetter (1971-1984) was born with severe combined immune deficiency (SCID), a rare genetic disease that compromises or destroys the immune systems of its victims, leaving them with little or no protection from germs and viruses. Nearly all children who suffer from this disease do not survive for more than a few years. David Vetter lived to be 12 years old, and his amazing survival was hailed as a miracle of modern science. Moments after his birth at the Texas Medical Center in Houston, he was placed in an isolator designed to maintain a germ free environment. The press quickly learned about David and news coverage of the "bubble boy" brought David's story to the world. There is no question that placing David in "the bubble" saved his life, but in the years that followed, the clinicians and medical scientists who cared for David were unable to find a cure for his disease. Nor were they able to devise an exit strategy for freeing him from isolation. As a result, David Vetter spent all but a few days of his life trapped inside his "bubble," unable to touch or be touched by other human beings. Sadly, the few days he was able to escape the isolator came when he was dying and too ill to enjoy his newfound freedom. The "bubble" that kept David alive became his prison, and over time his physical and emotional isolation took a heavy emotional toll on David.

Professor James H. Jones approaches this story as an important case study in human experimentation on children, and he will analyze the complicated decision to place David Vetter in the isolator, with special attention to the ethical issues that were inherent in this decision. Read more...



  • Featured Blog

    Nanotechnology and Science

    By Ashik Khatri | December 12, 2013

    One of the fields of science that is really booming in recent decades is nanotechnology. This field of science is increasingly becoming prevalent in all of studies. In medical field innovations like targeted therapeutics will help with treatment of diseases like cancer. Instead of destroying all cells in chemotherapy, only targeted bad cells can be destroyed. Some other innovations include brain replication. Human brain is a very complicated machine. To replicate it is a very challenging and risky endeavor. However there are some interesting technological advancements being made in this arena. Read more ...

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    The Power of Neuroscience

    By Sonia Jiwani | December 8, 2013

    The brain is the most complex organ in our bodies. It consists of millions of inter connected neurons that work together to give us our personalities, motivations, memories, etc. The brain is capable of things beyond our imagination; we have just started to see what it might be capable of doing. However, the complexity of the brain also makes it a very difficult organ to study because we are still unaware of all of its functions. As scientists, we have to be extremely careful about how we deal with the brain and what advances we make public because any wrong decision could become detrimental and costly for the human race. Read more ...

  • Featured Blog

    Ethical authorship: Dilemmas and practices in medicine

    By Shyam Panthi | December 12, 2013

    “Publish or Perish” has become a norm in the academia these days. Not only that, to enter the academia itself, one needs to show a list of publications before he is even considered for a post. Whether a person with higher quantity or quality gets an academic post all relies on the mindset of the committee who decides on who gets the job. After getting an academic post say an assistant professorship, that person has to prove himself again to get in the higher ladders of the academia. For all of this, from the very beginning of getting to a job, to reaching and surviving at one peak level like a tenureship requires ‘publications’. Read more ...

  • Featured Blog

    Cyborg Cockroaches Create Controversy

    By Jakaria Mostafa | December 12, 2013

    Researchers from North Carolina State University have recently developed a wireless biological remote sensing interface that would let you control the movement of your very own cockroach, or let’s say “Robo-roach”! Dr. Alper Bozkurt, an Assistant Professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, and his project team came up with a device which put the cockroaches into autopilot mode after mounting a small computer chip on the roach’s back and implanting electrodes to its antennae. Using a remote control, Bozkurt and his colleagues can direct the Madagascar hissing cockroaches where to crawl. Read more ...

  • Featured Blog

    The "Monster study

    By Rahul Goel | December 8, 2013

    What causes stuttering? Is it because of the genetics or is it a learned behavior? Dr. Wendell Johnson, a strong proponent of general semantics and a professor at University of Iowa in 1930s was one of the most influential speech pathologists in his area. He was a very popular professor in his university, he himself used to stutter and he strongly believed that it is a learned behavior influenced by the environment, for example parent’s criticism of their child’s slightest of stammering. He himself tried hard to overcome his stuttering while he was young using contemporary speech therapy and chiropractic available at that time, but failed. Read more ...

  • Featured Blog

    Ethical Concerns about direct to consumer genetic testing

    By Kristen Bowles | December 8, 2013

    Advances in science and technology are typically met with excitement by public. Scientific advancements making genetic testing more affordable and mainstream have proven to be no different. Genetic testing will ultimately be integrated into the medical field as the promise of personalized medicine comes to fruition, and I for one, believe this is a great advancement! However, as with any great scientific advancement we, the scientific community, have the ethical duty to inform the public of the realistic short comings and the unknowns of such advancements. Read more ...

  • Featured Blog

    The Golden Rule

    By Lauren Gulley | December 8, 2013

    From a very young age most people are taught some form or version of the “Golden Rule”, essentially that one should treat others as one would like others to treat oneself. This code to live by has been pressed upon me through my parents and relatives, religion, and schoolteachers throughout my life. The Golden Rule serves as an ethical code for everyday living. It suggests that the relationship between you and other people is a reciprocal and equal relationship; both parties are responsible for their treatment of the other. Similar to this is the concept of karma, cause and effect – you get what you deserve. If you treat others poorly it will come back to you, and the same if you treat others nicely. Read more ...

  • Featured Blog

    The mysterious case of Little Albert

    By Madhumitha Mahadevan | November 17, 2013

    Can humans also be conditioned just like the dog in Ivan Pavlov’s experiments? Intuitively, it looks like humans can be conditioned, but nothing much was known about the same until behaviorist John B Watson’s infamous ridiculously ‘novel’ experiment on a human infant!

    The “Little Albert” experiment is a famous experiment conducted by John B Watson and his graduate student Rosalie Rayner, which set the platform for behaviorism in the field of psychology. Watson proposed that the human psychology can be explained by the process of classical conditioning. Read more ...

  • Featured Blog

    By | December , 2013

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Featured Course

Ethics in Science (Fall 2014)

The course focuses on historical perspectives and current practices of ethics and professional responsibility in science. It includes a practicum component in a science or medical lab.

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