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4 essays look at the next generation of bioethics

To celebrate 40 years of pioneering bioethics publication, the Hastings Center Report, the world's first bioethics journal, looked to the future, asking young scholars to write about what the next generation of bioethicists should take up. Out of 195 compelling submissions, four of the best essays were selected for publication in the November-December issue.

Three of the essays envision bioethics forging into new areas, such as the ethical obligations of pharmaceutical industry, questions around the emerging field of regenerative medicine, and public health. Another proposes broadening the approach to dying, a foundational issue of bioethics. An undergraduate, a graduate student, an early career professor who is also a practicing physician, and a Belgian researcher are the authors.

A second set of essays, focusing on bioethics methodology, will be published in 2011.

"Picking the essays we wanted to publish turned out to be surprisingly difficult," said Gregory E. Kaebnick, editor of the Report. "We not only wanted good essays; we also wanted to represent the range of topics that people had written about and the range of people writing them up. But it's a good problem to have, of course, and it gives us great confidence about the future of bioethics."

"Establishing a 'Duty of Care' for Pharmaceutical Companies" calls upon bioethics to focus on the ethical responsibilities that drug companies have to the people they supply. Just as doctors, nurses, and other clinicians have a duty to give competent care to patients, drug companies should "place the good of the populace over the good of the stockholders," writes Remy Miller, a junior at Transylvania University who plans to pursue degrees in medicine and bioethics. She suggests that companies start by adhering to the bioethics principles of justice, beneficence, and autonomy.

"A Role for Moral Vision in Public Health" recommends that bioethics join forces with public health to develop a moral vision to inform policy and practice. While public health interventions were once accomplished through improvements in infrastructure, such as better sanitation, "today's public health goals often require changing individual behavior, often through state action," writes Daniel B. Rubin, a doctoral student in public health and a law student at the University of Michigan Rubin. "Such interventions raise substantive questions about the extent to which government . . . should intrude on individual bodies to improve the health of the body politi
 
 

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