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Updated by Teresa Lloro-Bidart on Sep 08, 2016
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Biomedical Science Topics

Here is a list of curated content for the Liberal Studies Department that covers an array of topics related to the biomedical sciences.

We now have a good text editor for your genetic code – John Parrington | Aeon Essays

An Aeon article that discusses new "gene-editing" technologies and their ethical implications, such as the use of "edited" animal models, "editing" human embryos, and "editing" to improve a person's genetic makeup.

I married an anti-vaxxer. Here's what I learned trying to convince her to change.

A great Vox article that deals with the intersections of biomedical science, politics, and the humanities through an analysis of the anti-vax movment.

Antibiotics in Animal Feed May Endanger Kids, Doctors Warn

A short article that discusses the controversy surrounding the use of antibiotics in animal food, including the dangers of antibiotic resistance.

Spray the DNA away – an artist’s stand against encroaching genetic surveillance | Aeon Videos

A great video using an arts-based approach to grapple with new controversies and questions that arise from advancements in biomedical science, particularly regarding ethical, moral, and political implications. This might be of interest to students curious about forensic technologies, given that the "DNA traces" we leave everywhere can legally be collected by law enforcement authorities.

"We leave ‘genetic artifacts’ everywhere we go, and it takes little more than a bit of amateur DNA sleuthing to discern a startling amount about us from these traces. Through her ‘Stranger Visions’ series, consisting of masks developed from the genetic material of strangers, the American artist Heather Dewey-Hagborg grapples with some of the difficult moral issues of genetic surveillance. Another one of her pieces offers a solution: DNA-erasing sprays."

Can a tiny slice of mouse brain help us understand the complex human mind? | Aeon Videos

Short Aeon clip that discusses how scientists are working to map the human brain.

"For all the advances in artificial intelligence and neuroscience over the past century, the human brain is still the most intricate and enigmatic machinery on Earth. Scientists are still slowly untangling the brains’s web of profoundly complex connections, seeking the yet elusive knowledge of how it all actually works. This visualisation reconstructs a dustmite-sized slice of a mouse cortex that has been used in recent research. While the mapping reveals much about brain mechanics, it also illustrates the immense challenges scientists face when attempting to map even a minuscule amount of brain material." 

An article that blends social genomics and philosophy to pursue questions about happiness.

Will Storr examines the concept of eudaemonic happiness, first proposed by Aristotle, and how it may be beneficial to human health.

“Gene drive” technology will let us edit life in new ways, but should we use it?

A great source to explore the science and ethics of genetic technologies. If you scroll down, you'll see that various contributors have weighed in on this topic in a series of articles (as of September 2016, more articles are still being added).

Forum thread: “Gene drive” technology will let us edit life in new ways, but should we use it?

The emerging science of gene drives promises human control greater than ever before over the traits and environmental effects of non-human organisms. While the technology is rapidly being developed, the ethics of its implementation remains to be defined. Join Center contributors in considering if and how we should apply gene drive technology to edit life.

We made a minimal cell and began a synthetic-life revolution – Dan Gibson | Aeon Ideas

An article that discusses how scientists are creating synthetic cells that come with potential benefits and risks.