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Reflections On Science

Universities succeed when they produce thoughtful leaders, not technocrats – Gareth Jones

Sarah-Jane O'Connor posted in on August 17th, 2016.

The place of humanities in a university raises issues that extend far beyond a single department, argues Emeritus Professor Gareth Jones in the Otago Daily Times. An excerpt (read in full): We need lawyers who understand biomedical science or elements of commerce; we need doctors who have an appreciation of the medical humanities, let alone […]

Who to kill? The dilemma of driverless cars – Expert reaction

John Kerr posted in on June 24th, 2016.

Driverless cars hold the promise of safer transport. But how should they react when loss of life appears inevitable? Should a car swerve to miss a pedestrian on the road, even if doing so would kill the passenger? What if it was two people on the road? Or ten people? New US research, published in […]

Embryo research hits ethical barrier – Expert Reaction

John Kerr posted in on May 5th, 2016.

Scientists have broken through a technical barrier in human embryo research and now face an ethical one. Two separate studies published in Nature and Nature Cell Biology today report on new methods allowing human embryos to cultured and studied in Petri dishes for as long as 13 days. Previous studies have struggled to keep embryos […]

Sperm derived from stem cells – Experts reaction

John Kerr posted in on February 26th, 2016.

Scientists in China have created functioning sperm from mice stem cells in the laboratory. To accomplish this feat, the researchers coaxed mouse embryonic stem cells to turn into functional sperm-like cells, which were then injected into egg cells to produce fertile mouse offspring. The research, published in Cell Stem Cell, provides a platform for generating […]

Human embryo gene editing gets UK go-ahead – Expert reaction

John Kerr posted in on February 2nd, 2016.

A regulatory body in the UK  has approved the first research application to use new ‘gene editing’ techniques on human embryos. The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority is the UK’s independent regulator overseeing the use of gametes and embryos in fertility treatment and research. The Authority has today approved a proposal for new research, led by […]

Nobel laureate’s comments creates sexism storm

Laura Goodall posted in on June 12th, 2015.

Nobel prize winner and UK Royal Society Fellow Tim Hunt has caused controversy by saying laboratories should be segregated along gender lines. Although Tim Hunt has apologised for his remarks at the World Conference of Science Journalists in South Korea this week, he stood by his assertion that mixed-gender labs were disruptive. Consequently, the Royal Society of […]

HIV court case controversy – Experts respond

Laura Goodall posted in on February 11th, 2015.

A court case is currently underway in which a District Health Board is seeking guardianship of an HIV-positive boy being refused treatment by his father, as reported in the New Zealand Herald over the weekend. The case has opened discussions about the rights of parents whose children are HIV-positive, the rights of children to know […]

Experimental Ebola treatments – experts respond

Laura Goodall posted in on August 7th, 2014.

The recent treatment of  two Ebola-infected US aid workers with experimental medicine has raised questions about whether medicines not proven to be safe in people should be used in the outbreak and who should be given priority for treatment. Currently there are no registered medicines or vaccines against the virus, only several experimental options that are still under development. Next week, […]

Medical ethics and unconscious patients – experts respond

John Kerr posted in on May 14th, 2014.

Should we be concerned over the involvement of unconscious patients in medical research in New Zealand? The front page of today’s New Zealand Herald carried a story on a company seeking ethical approval for an antibiotics ‘non-inferiority’ trial involving comatose patients. The Health and Disability Ethics Committee minutes and the Auckland Women’s Health Council newsletter which […]

Circumcision health risks and benefits – experts respond

John Kerr posted in on April 4th, 2014.

A new review of US data has prompted a team of researchers to call on practitioners and policy makers to promote infant male circumcision as a health intervention. The article, published in the Mayo Clinic Proceedings, argues that the benefits of infant male circumcision to health exceed the risks by over 100 to one. The […]

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