Ethics@Twilight - Biomedical Engineering

 The Ethics@Twilight lecture series returned this past Thursday with a guided discussion on “Engineering the Brain: What Could Possibly Go Wrong?” led by with Steve Helms Tillery, Associate Professor in the School of Biological and Health Systems Engineering. Tillery presented a wide range of experiments being conducted on the brain as a starting point for discussion on the responsibilities researchers have to develop ethical experiments and procedures in the best interest of the patient. Discussing the complicated ethical dilemmas faced by practitioners helped the primarily student audience anticipate and contextualize the challenges they face as future biomedical engineers.  

The Lincoln Center for Applied Ethics partnered with the School of Biological and Health Systems Engineering to plan these discussions. In a field where science fiction is rapidly becoming science fact, a sound ethical framework is required to address potentially problematic experiments and enhancements. The following three events will address the ethics surrounding different aspects of biomedical engineering.

The panel discussion September 28 will focus on “Advanced Prostheses: Are Research Directions Aligned with Amputee Preferences,” with James J. Abbas, PhD, and Christopher Buneo, PhD, from the School of Biological and Health Systems Engineering at Arizona State University, and Thomas Sugar, PhD, from the Polytechnic School at Arizona State University. This dialogue will focus on the challenges faced in aligning research directions with amputee preferences. While commercially-available prosthetic limbs are unable to restore the full functionality of a biological limb, there are a broad range of research and development efforts underway to bridge the gaps. The decisions made by scientists, engineers, policy makers, and the business community will determine the availability and affordability of these emerging technologies for amputees. The discussion will be held on September 28, 2017, at 4:30 pm in the new Student Pavilion across the mall from the Memorial Union, Room 121, Senita C. RSVP:

Then on October 19 David Brafman, PhD, MBA, and Emma Frow, PhD, will present on the topic of, "Experimental Stem Cell Treatment: Who Pays?" Recent years have seen a proliferation of clinics in the US offering experimental stem cell treatments for a wide range of conditions. In this Ethics@Twilight session, they explore the distribution of risk and responsibility that is accompanying the practice of selling stem cells. The discussion will be hosted on the Tempe campus in the Memorial Union, Pima Room 230, on October 19, 2017, 4:30 pm to 6:00 pm. RSVP:

 The final Ethics@Twilight discussion will address, “Biomedical Outcomes and Healthcare Objectives: Prolonging Life vs. Experiencing a Good Death,” with Jerry Coursen, PhD. As biomedical research advances, the ability to extend life also increases, but does that prolongation of life come at the expense of experiencing a good death? The discussion will focus on mortality and the responsibilities of researchers and practitioners to ensure that quality of life is maintained even as it is artificially prolonged. The discussion will be held on Thursday, November 16, 2017, 4:30 pm to 6:00 pm, in Memorial Union Mohave 236. RSVP: