Includes: People to people, Using media avenues, Special Focus: Neuroethics
One of our missions is to spread the word about advances in neuroscience and immunology and best practices for supporting teaching artists and using the arts in education. From the hands-on activities that our Dana Alliance members share with students to the workshops we sponsor primarily for experts, we serve people at all levels of knowledge.
We sponsor public talks and events, symposia, and conferences, as well as training sessions for people of all ages in the United States and abroad. Our books, journals, and other publications reach even more people. And our ever-growing Web site serves as a reliable reference as well as a source of up-to-the-minute science and education news.
The success of much of our public outreach is due to the members of the Dana Alliance for Brain Initiatives and the European Dana Alliance for the Brain. These more than 470 eminent neuroscientists (including 15 Nobel laureates) have pledged to promote public awareness of and interest in brain science. They fulfill this responsibility by giving public lectures, offering tours of their labs to interested students, writing for Foundation and other publications, and serving as expert resources for journalists and others through our Neuroscience Resource Service. They translate their work from the language of scientific papers to language that non-scientists can understand. And they make themselves available to answer questions from reporters and the general public.
The Foundation funds outreach on brain research through all the programs of the Dana Alliance and the European Dana Alliance; the periodicals and books we publish on the brain and brain research; a news office that is a major resource for journalists reporting on science; and the dana.org Web site, a premier source for validated information on these topics.
Below are some highlights from 2008.
People to People
Brain Awareness Week
In 1996 the Dana Alliance organized the first Brain Awareness Week, uniting academic, government, professional, and advocacy groups with the common theme that brain research is the hope for treatments and preventions—and possibly cures—for brain diseases and disorders, and to ensure a better quality of life for all.
Via the Brain Awareness Week Web site, people can search for events to attend in their areas. Partner organizations can download brain information, order free publications, and post their own events. The site holds a large, searchable collection of sample programs and tips for attracting an audience and producing successful events.
Each year, the campaign grows. In 2008, more than 2,200 institutions and organizations joined in, holding events around the world during the week of March 10–16, with some organizations sponsoring more events throughout the month and the year. With the addition in 2008 of Bermuda, Dominica, Grenada, Indonesia, Macedonia, Paraguay, and Slovakia, there are now 76 countries with Brain Awareness Week partner organizations.
Much of the international growth is due to a partnership among the Dana Alliances, the International Brain Research Organization, and the Federation of European Neuroscience Societies. In 2008, with a grant from the Foundation and funds of its own, the European Federation funded 34 projects from 16 countries. The International Brain Research Organization also funded brain awareness week activities outside Europe, in areas including India, Nepal, Nigeria, Uganda, Cameroon, Cuba, the West Indies, and Armenia.
Here is a sampling of the events during Brain Awareness Week 2008:
- In the UK, researchers from the University of Manchester took brain awareness to the streets with their Brain Bus. The bus, equipped with various hands-on activities related to the brain and the senses, visited seven venues and engaged an audience ranging in age from 8 to 88.
- In Queretaro City, Mexico, the Institute for Neurobiology at Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico presented programs reaching more than 2,000 people. A series of six lectures on the theme “Emotions and the Brain” was presented to packed audiences. Other events included an exhibition of educational posters on brain-related topics, educational activities for children, brain anatomy displays, and demonstrations related to brain development.
- In Tbilisi, Georgia, scientists from the Beritashvili Institute of Physiology visited high schools to talk about the complexities of the human brain. Their presentations addressed such questions as how the brain controls all body activities; how the brain regulates endocrine glands and hormonal release; and how emotions, learning, and memory work. Following the presentations, the students were invited to the Beritashvili Institute of Physiology for a laboratory tour.
- In Switzerland, Brain Awareness Week was celebrated in seven cities: Aarau, Basel, Bern, Fribourg, Geneva, Lausanne, and Zurich. An array of events, including lectures, exhibitions, musical performances, and school programs, covered such topics as memory, addiction, emotions, and depression. In all, more than 30,000 people attended Brain Awareness Week events throughout Switzerland.
- The Croatian Institute for Brain Research focused on the central theme “the Neuroscience of Behavior.” More than 2,500 people attended a series of public lectures on topics including the brain and aggression, neurotrauma and neuroprotection, and neuroimaging. A neurotrauma prevention project provided 150 children with bicycle helmets, each decorated by painters from the Osijek School for Design and Applied Arts.
- In Winston-Salem, North Carolina, the Western North Carolina Chapter of the Society for Neuroscience, Targacept, and Wake Forest University collaborated on a series of events. In all, nearly 1,500 people attended lectures, exhibits, and tours covering a range of neuroscience topics. The Brain Art Contest drew more than 150 entries from students in grades K to 4. The Careers in Neuroscience fair brought undergraduate and graduate students to Targacept to learn about biotechnology and biopharmaceutical careers. A series of lectures covered topics including schizophrenia, new advances in treatments for brain injury, and brain imaging technology.
- At the U.S. National Museum of Health and Medicine, more than 700 middle and high school students visited interactive stations staffed by experts from Georgetown and Howard universities, the National Institutes of Heath, and the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology. Presentations included such topics as memory and learning games, illusions, descriptions of taste and smell (including treats as prizes), and goggles that allow students to experience the effects of alcohol.
- Brain Bee competitions were held across the United States, Canada, Switzerland, Australia, New Zealand, India, and elsewhere, culminating in a championship round in Montreal, Canada. The Brain Bee is a live Q&A competition that tests the neuroscience knowledge of high school students.
|All the chairs were filled for a Brain Awareness Week lecture in Ljublljana, Slovenia, organized by SiNAPSA, the Sloveneian Neuroscience Association. (Photo courtesy of Vita Štukovnik) |
One of the fastest-growing categories of Brain Awareness Week partners is K–12 schools. More and more educators are showing interest in implementing activities during the week and throughout the year, and in obtaining suitable brain-related materials for students and teachers. In response, the Dana Alliance has expanded its efforts to introduce information about the brain and brain research into the classroom throughout the year, under a program we call Neuroeducation. (See more in the sections Support for Science and Math Education and Special Focus: Learning, Arts, and the Brain.)
With the baby boomer generation in the United States reaching their 60s, and their parents’ generation still going strong, the Foundation continues to work on several public programs offering information on maintaining mental agility deep into one’s golden years.
In addition to our large-scale Staying Sharp forums, for which we collaborate with NRTA: AARP’s Educator Community, we work with the business group The Conference Board on a series of programs and publications dedicated to cognitive fitness in the workplace, with a special focus on aging workers.
Through all these programs, we aim to educate our audience on the four factors of cognitive fitness:
- increased mental activity
- increased physical activity
- increased levels of social engagement
- control of vascular risk and management of stress
As in past years, audiences at the six 2008 Staying Sharp live forums left the sessions upbeat and enthusiastic. They tell us it’s because they now know there are things they can do—starting today, and regardless of their age—to maintain their quality of life. Taking home this message in 2008 were people in San Francisco; Phoenix; Washington, D.C.; Charlotte, North Carolina; and New York City. A similar program was held in London in March.
We also continue to reinforce the importance of clinical trials. During the Staying Sharp programs, audience members often asked how they can contribute to the fight against Alzheimer’s disease and other disorders of the brain. We are advising speakers on how to answer them, including recommending the National Institutes of Health’s clinical trials Web site. With the help of our expert speakers, we encourage people to become educated consumers of brain-related products and services that abound in the marketplace, while reinforcing the value of the four factors.
Well more than a million copies of the Staying Sharp booklets have been printed and downloaded. The five booklets explore depression, memory loss and aging, chronic health issues, quality of life, and learning throughout life. A sixth booklet, “Successful Aging,” will be available in 2009. AARP has also produced the first five booklets in Spanish, and the Alliance offers the Spanish-language versions on the Dana Web site as well.
|At the close of the Staying Sharp session on September 5, 2008, in Washington, D.C., Walter J. Koroshetz, M.D., Christopher Edwards, Ph.D., and Stephanie Johnson, Ph.D., talk with members of the audience. (Photo by Laura Reynolds) |
In 2006, the Conference Board approached the Dana Alliance about a collaboration on mature workforce issues. In 2008, we coproduced the booklet “Your Brain at Work: Making the Science of Cognitive Fitness Work for You.” It includes a “Notes from the Lab” feature that highlights the most current science related to cognitive fitness in the workplace and provides interactive quizzes and action plans for the reader. Copies can be requested online. The next publication in the Your Brain at Work series, which will cover learning and memory, is in production as an online publication.
Also online, in late 2008, we produced a short series of podcasts on healthy aging that feature Alliance members Marilyn Albert, Ph.D., Guy McKhann, M.D., and Nobel laureate Eric Kandel, M.D., talking individually about their personal and professional views on healthy aging.
Events at the Dana Centers
In addition to sponsoring events and discussions in many venues, we host many events at the Dana Center in Washington, D.C., and the Dana Centre in London. We record interviews with distinguished scientists and forums on the cutting edge of science and make them available as video or audio streams on our Web site. Here are a few of the 2008 events in Washington, D.C.:
- In May, “The Teen Brain,” an event cosponsored by Syracuse University and the Dana Alliance, featured Jay N. Giedd, M.D., Dana Alliance executive committee member Kay Redfield Jamison, Ph.D., and Stephen A. Maisto, Ph.D.
- In September, Dennis Charney, M.D., and Dana Alliance members Steven Hyman, M.D., and Jordan Grafman, Ph.D., discussed traumatic brain injury and post-traumatic stress syndrome.
“Understanding Childhood Brain Disorders,” presented in October, featured Dana Alliance members Jerome Kagan, Ph.D., and Martha Denckla, M.D., who discussed attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder, learning disabilities, autism, and diagnosing and treating childhood disorders. The program was moderated by Noel Gunther of Washington’s public television affiliate.
|Martha Bridge Denckla, M.D., describes how children learn to hold a pen during a forum at the Dana Center in October. Jerome Kagan, Ph.D., is on her left. (Photo by Max Taylor) |
Here are a few of the events at the Dana Centre in London:
- In “How Happy Are You: Mental Capital and Well-Being,” in partnership with the London School of Economics, panelists explored what defines a sense of well-being that motivates us at home and at work and enhances relationships, and whether investment in people’s mental capital and well-being could help ward off mental illness.
- During “To Be in a Better Place: Psychology of Architecture,” in partnership with Imperial College, moderator and European Dana Alliance member Chris Kennard asked panelists whether understanding the neuroscience of behavior could help architects design offices that maximize productivity, schools that enhance learning, or hospitals that have a positive effect on patients’ health.
- BBC broadcaster, journalist, and author Vivienne Parry interviewed European Dana Alliance member Professor Dame Nancy Rothwell, University of Manchester, about her extraordinary career in neuroscience during a program called “Strokes of Good and Bad Luck.”
- At a program called “The Secrets of Sleep,” European Dana Alliance executive committee member Richard Morris moderated a panel discussion about what sleep is, why we need it, how much we normally need, and what happens if we don’t get enough.
Library systems are an excellent way to share information, and in 2008 we sought to get more librarians interested in the brain and involved in our programs.
In a new partnership in 2008, the Dana Alliance joined with Libraries for the Future on its Fit for Life campaign. Seventeen library systems across the United States received Fit for Life grants to create health-and-wellness programs in their libraries, including sections on brain health.
In September, we arranged for two experts to present a one-hour session titled “Keys to Brain Health across the Life Span” at the New York Public Library Muhlenberg Branch. The session helped prepare the 35 representatives from the grantee libraries to set up their programs. Dana staff also attended the session to show the librarians what we have to offer them and to encourage them to register as partners in the Brain Awareness Week campaign. Already some have joined in.
Also in 2008, we set up a page on our Web site, “Services for Librarians,” that lists Alliance resources as well as interviews and background information on the books we publish.
The Alliance’s Lending Library program is a partnership with university neuroscience departments. We offer models, charts, posters, tissue specimens, and other teaching tools for postdocs and professors to use when giving presentations in local schools and in community programs. Teachers in schools that have an established relationship with their local university may also borrow these materials when teaching units on the brain. In 2008, Oregon Health and Science University, the University of Washington, and Yale University joined the program, bringing the number of partners to 12.
In Atlanta, we partner with the Center for Behavioral Neuroscience, a collaboration among Georgia State University, Emory University, Georgia Institute of Technology, Morehouse College, Morehouse School of Medicine, Spellman College, Morris Brown College, and Clark University. In 2008, more than 50 people borrowed items from the library, reaching more than 5,000 metro-Atlanta students, teachers, and residents.
In addition to using the Lending Library materials on a regular basis in visits to classrooms throughout the school year, partners hold teacher workshops and camps for students throughout the summer:
- Atlanta now has annual summer programs for students and teachers. Students spend a week testing their balance and reflexes, dissecting animal eyes, and performing other experiments. Older students begin with classroom-style learning and then work in a neuroscience lab with a researcher. Teachers attend a weeklong professional development workshop and then integrate what they learn into their own curriculum.
- At the University of Wisconsin, Madison, Lending Library materials were used for the neurobiology segment of the PEOPLE (Pre-College Enrichment Opportunity Program for Learning Excellence) program. The program brings highly motivated, low-income high school students to campus to give them a taste of academic university life.
- At Washington University in St. Louis, middle school students used Lending Library materials during a campus youth summer program.
- At the University of Massachusetts Medical School, Lending Library materials were used in a program that encourages high school students to consider careers in science.
Conferences and Festivals
In addition to supporting conferences for scientists and teaching artists, the Dana Foundation supports large-scale ventures that get the word out to the public.
At the biennial conference of the Federation of European Neuroscience Societies, held in Geneva in 2008, the Foundation sponsored an exhibition booth, displaying our outreach materials in five languages. We also supported a press office at the convention center, offering reporters access in three languages to scientists and easy-to-read summaries of new research. More than two dozen news stories ran or aired in several countries. For people attending the conference, we sponsored a very popular evening session on music and the brain; a Webcast of the event is online.
“The Creating Brain,” a Dana-sponsored event featuring Alliance member Nancy Andreasen, M.D., Ph.D., drew hundreds of interested New Yorkers during the weeklong World Science Festival in the city in May 2008. Dr. Andreasen’s Dana Press book of the same name, published in hardcover in 2005, was released as an audiobook in 2008.
|The Dana Alliance’s 2008 Progress Report on Brain Research, translated into German, French, Italian, and Spanish, was popular at the Dana Alliance booth during the Federation of European Neuroscience Societies meeting in Geneva in July 2008. |
During the British Association Festival of Science in September 2008, Dana sponsored an evening forum called “Brains, Drugs, and Rock and Roll” at the Cavern Club, where the Beatles played in their early days. During the session, Professor Martin Conway of the University of Leeds presented early results of online brain research entitled “The Magical Memory Tour.” The site asked people to share their strongest memories of the Beatles, in an effort to discover how the global musical phenomenon that was the Beatles shaped people’s personal life stories. [See also the section Worldwide Chats on Music and the Brain.]
The European Dana Alliance collaborated in 2008 with the Wellcome Collection (part of the Wellcome Trust) to bring together scientists, soldiers, psychologists, artists, historians and the general public to discuss the many facets of war and how we remember it—not only the horrors but also the good times, including its influences on art and culture and medicine. The three-day series of events, called “Remembering War,” was part of an exhibition on war and medicine at the Wellcome Trust from November 2008 through February 2009, incorporating historical and contemporary artworks as well as military and medical artifacts.
Memories of war stay with us, whether we are civilians or on the front line. At one of the sessions, at the Dana Centre, King’s College London military psychiatrist Simon Wessely gave a history of war-related mental health problems, from shell shock in the First World War to post-traumatic stress disorder of more recent wars. His descriptions came to vivid life through the stories of Gulf War veteran James Saunders, who told how he turned to drink and drugs to deaden the nightmares and flashbacks he experienced when he returned home. People attending the programs and those visiting the Wellcome Web site were invited to share their own memories of war, continuing the conversation.
Using Media Avenues
While the Foundation and our Dana Alliance members reach many people through events and lab tours, we know we can reach more people by putting our message online and making it easy to find. In 2008, we continued to expand the offerings on our Web site and elsewhere on the Internet.
Each year, the Dana Alliance’s signature publication, the Progress Report on Brain Research, describes the past year’s top findings in brain research affecting areas such as disorders of development, aging, and movement, as well as mental and thought disorders. In 2008, the report included an essay on deep brain stimulation by Dana Alliance member Mahlon DeLong, M.D., and Thomas Wichmann, M.D., and a report on the findings of our Arts and Cognition Consortium by Alliance member Michael Gazzaniga, Ph.D., who led the consortium.
For the benefit of non-English readers, the Progress Report has been translated into French, German, Italian, and Spanish. All versions have been posted online for people to download and to read. Popular Dana Alliance booklets “Q&A: Answering Your Questions about Brain Science,” “It’s Mindboggling,” and the “Staying Sharp” series also are available in print and online, in the above five languages as well as Czech, Polish, and Hungarian. These are available via our European Dana Alliance site.
“More Mindbogglers!,” a new booklet in a fun format similar to that of “It’s Mindboggling!,” was released in time for Brain Awareness Week 2008. Created in collaboration with Baylor College of Medicine and aimed at high school students, the booklet contains information about learning and memory, the senses, drug addiction, and how the brain and nervous system work. Also available in Spanish, the booklet was heavily requested and downloaded in 2008.
Some of the most popular sections of our Web site are Brainy Kids, BrainWeb, and Brain Resources for Seniors, three resources presenting, respectively, annotated listings of some of the best online resources for children, teachers, and caregivers; information about more than 25 common brain diseases and disorders; and information about senior-related brain-health topics.
Recordings and Publications
Many of the events held at the Dana Center in Washington, D.C., and the Dana Centre in London are recorded and are available as video or audio streams on our Web site. We started recording some of our news and journal reporting, in addition to putting out regular podcasts, including the Alliance audio program Gray Matters, via our Web site and iTunes.
A 2007 Gray Matters program examining how neuroscience can explain the role gender plays in education aired on public radio stations in early 2008, followed by a live interview with Alliance member Martha Denckla, M.D., during which she took calls from the audience.
This year’s podcasts included an episode with Alliance member Barry Gordon, M.D., Ph.D., on his research into autism, released during Autism Awareness Month in April. A two-part series on traumatic brain injury and post-traumatic stress disorder complemented a 2008 white paper that the Foundation published on the same topics.
Other white papers—short briefings for journalists and others—focused on deep brain stimulation, traumatic brain injury, the brain correlates of reading, and brain development in a hyper-tech world. And the annual Advances in Brain Research, which highlights cutting-edge brain research through discussions with leading neuroscientists and is also aimed at journalists, featured Q&As with eight researchers. In addition to providing background information, the Foundation’s news office helps journalists and freelance writers who are developing stories on topics related to the brain by connecting them with expert neuroscientists who can answer their questions.
In 2008, books published by the Dana Press imprint were offered in print and electronic versions, including versions for Amazon’s Kindle reader. Four of our books are now available as audiobooks, as well: The Creating Brain, The Ethical Brain, Best of the Brain from Scientific American, and 2008’s Your Brain on Cubs.
Cerebrum 2008 is the second in our annual collection of articles from our online magazine of opinion. As science journalist Carl Zimmer puts it in his foreword, news about the human brain tends to trigger cyclones of chatter, but we often don’t know what to make of the sheer mass of data. The provocative articles in Cerebrum, however, offer a guide to ordering one’s understanding of the brain.
Published in March, Your Brain on Cubs: Inside the Heads of Players and Fans, written by a group of leading neuroscientists and science writers, explores how our brains function when we participate in sports as fans, athletes, and coaches—taking baseball as the quintessential sport for all three perspectives. The book generated interest from leading radio and television producers in Chicago (Cubs territory). It also gained national attention from journalists including Newsweek’s George Will, who devoted a column to it, and National Public Radio’s Ira Flatow, host of the popular Science Friday, who included it in a program on the science of sports.
In April, a discussion of the book at the Dana Center in Washington, D.C., included panelists Bobby Thomson, who hit the famous home run in 1951 called the “shot heard ’round the world,” Dana Alliance member Jordan Grafman, Ph.D., and Hillary Rodman, Ph.D. Dan Gordon, Dana Press managing editor, moderated the program, with introductions and welcome by the Foundation’s chairman, William Safire.
|From left, Dana Press Managing Editor Dan Gordon, Bobby Thomson, Hillary R. Rodman, Ph.D., and Jordan Grafman, Ph.D., enjoy a riposte from an audience salted with baseball fans during a panel discussion on the neuroscience of sports and sports fans at the Dana Center in Washington, D.C., in April 2008. (Photo by Ellen Davey) |
Published in November, Try to Remember: Psychiatry's Clash Over Meaning, Memory, and Mind, by Paul McHugh, M.D., gives a firsthand account of psychiatry’s “recovered memory” scandal of the 1990s. Dr. McHugh’s passionate plea for psychiatrists and psychotherapists to return to science-based medicine to provide accurate diagnoses and effective treatment captured reviews in places as far flung as the Wall Street Journal, Jerusalem Post, and the Guardian in the United Kingdom. In December, Dr. McHugh discussed the book with Alliance members Kay Jamison, Ph.D., and Ray DePaulo, Jr., M.D., at an event held at the Dana Center in Washington, D.C.; an audio recording and a Webcast of the event are available online.
The print newsletters Brain in the News, Immunology in the News, and Arts Education in the News gained an online presence in 2008. In addition to their monthly, bimonthly, or quarterly newsletter form, links to fresh, expert-validated stories are added to their online component each week. BrainWork, our bimonthly newsletter of original neuroscience reporting, also has a home online.
Cerebrum, our monthly online magazine of opinion and commentary on brain science, continued to tackle topics on the front lines. For example, Geoffrey K. Aguirre, M.D., Ph.D., offered a critique of political polling via brain scanning, and the editors of Annals of Neurology explained how they try to balance the interests of authors, peer reviewers, readers, and the journal itself.
We update the Dana Web site, www.dana.org, each weekday with news stories, reviews, blog posts, and links. We have set our sights on making sure that visitors can find not only trustworthy early reports on news involving the brain, but also more detail and deeper understanding than the daily news media can offer.
For example, in May 2008, when news broke that U.S. senator Edward Kennedy’s seizures were caused by a malignant glioma, our writers interviewed experts at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine and at Rockefeller University and delivered a story ready for our science advisor to review that same afternoon. We also recruited Dana Alliance member Don Long, M.D., Ph.D., a Hopkins scientist who has done pioneering brain-tumor research, to write us a report on where the research stands. Dr. Long had the piece ready for us within 48 hours, and included side pieces written by colleagues with specialties in neurosurgery and oncology whom he had enlisted to describe in detail the most advanced areas of treatment. The rationales and approaches explained in these pieces included the treatment strategy of surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy that Kennedy’s doctors prescribed for the senator three days later.
Special Focus: Neuroethics
The Foundation and the members of the Dana Alliances have been leaders in defining and bringing attention to the field of neuroethics, the branch of ethics devoted to the implications of advancing brain research. We seek to promote an exchange of ideas among neuroscientists and non-scientists, including lawyers, philosophers, policy makers, businesspeople, and everyone else interested in these questions.
Through the years, we have helped to sponsor three major conferences: the seminal Neuroethics: Mapping the Field, in Palo Alto, California (2002); Neuroscience and the Law, at the Dana Center in Washington, D.C. (2003); and Hard Science, Hard Choices, at the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C. (2005). Through Dana Press, we released books based on each event.
In 2006, Dana was among the sponsors of a neuroethics workshop in Asilomar, California, run by the Stanford Center for Biomedical Ethics, to discuss how to advance the field and to engage more non-scientists in the debate. Workshop participants established the independent Neuroethics Society, which aims to provide those interested in the growing field with a solid base for sustained dialogue and interaction. The society’s first executive committee meeting was held at the Dana Center in Washington, D.C., in May 2007.
In November 2008, the society held its inaugural annual meeting, a two-day series of panels, presentations, and casual mixers in Washington, D.C., at the headquarters of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. “We were planning on 50, we were hoping for 80, and we have more than 200 registrants” from 26 countries, said the society’s president, Dana Alliance executive committee member Steven Hyman, M.D.
In the months ahead of the meeting, our Web journalist interviewed four of the speakers for the event, including Dana Alliance member Judy Illes, Ph.D., Martha Farah, Ph.D., Hank Greely, J.D., and Dr. Hyman, all featured on the Neuroethics section of our Web site. We blogged and posted news stories each day, including one that later appeared in print in BrainWork.
During the meeting, the Dana Alliance hosted a panel discussion at the Dana Center on the ethical challenges of deep brain stimulation (DBS). The panel featured Alliance member Helen Mayberg, M.D., Jonathan Moreno, Ph.D., Joseph Fins, M.D., and Philip Campbell, Ph.D.
Panelists agreed that neurologists exploring DBS treatment face serious ethical challenges because the invasive technique is still in very early testing, yet many in the public think it’s ready for prime time. Scientists might find it useful to communicate to the public two things about DBS, Dr. Fins said. First, the technique might be best used for exploring the basic nature of neurological diseases, he said, “not just as a therapeutic tool.” And second, it’s on probation—“it’s not yet a vetted therapy” despite widespread public conceptions to the contrary. (Webcast and transcript available.)
Three stories in Cerebrum focused on neuroethical concerns. Advances in neuroscience are offering insights into addiction and are providing scientists with pharmacological methods, such as the use of injectable naltrexone, for reducing relapse. In “The Impact of Modern Neuroscience on Treatment of Parolees,” Richard J. Bonnie, J.D., Donna T. Chen, M.D., M.P.H., and Charles P. O’Brien, M.D., Ph.D., consider the ethical and legal implications of different methods for administering naltrexone to convicted drug offenders. Dr. O’Brien’s work is partly funded by the Foundation. (See more in the section Support for Research.)
In “Managing Conflicting Interests in Medical Journal Publishing,” three editors of the journal Annals of Neurology explain the unique challenges they face as they attempt to balance the interests of authors, peer reviewers, readers, and the journal itself. And in “Pediatric Screening for the Public Good,” Jennifer Kwon, M.D., M.P.H., and Richard H. Dees, Ph.D., urge caution and careful consideration of potential costs alongside potential advantages when adding to the hefty roster of medical procedures that all children must undergo.
Neuroscience and the Law
Under the auspices of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, Dana continues to support seminars for federal and state judges on how advances in neuroscience could affect court procedure. Topics include the latest science about addiction and violence, whether brain scans can determine if a person is telling the truth, and questions of coma and conscious states. Judicial Seminars on Emerging Issues in Neuroscience were held twice in 2006 and once in 2007.
In 2008, with our support, the association held four sessions—two in partnership with the American Bar Association, in Chicago and Houston, and one each in New York and Washington, D.C. Dana Alliance members Monte Buchsbaum, M.D., Jordan Grafman, Ph.D., and Marcus Raichle, M.D., and Dana imaging grantee Brian Wandell, Ph.D., spoke at some of the workshops. Handouts and presentations from some of the meetings are available on the National Center for State Courts Web site.
A Dana-funded program at Columbia University’s Center for Bioethics includes creating college-level, Web-based coursework targeted to medical students, scientists, and doctors but also available to anyone who stops by. In 2008, the independent study Web course Advances in Neuroscience and Their Ethical Implications went live. It included sections on neuroimaging, neurogenetics, neuropharmacology, and neurotechnology, with background information, case studies, and a resource list with links.
Researchers at the bioethics center are developing neuroethics training courses for high school teachers that will include Web-based supplements to classroom teaching, as well as a neuroethics sourcebook along the lines of the Dana sourcebooks on brain science and on immunology, offering a basic introduction and resources for students and teachers.
The Foundation sponsors a resource for high school teachers run by the University of Pennsylvania. Sample lesson plans, background readings, and information from past workshops help teachers to engage their students in debate about topics such as levels of consciousness and using brain scans as lie detection. The program is part of a high school bioethics project that also includes workshops for local teachers.
Our own Neuroethics Web section tracks news reporting and journal debate on various topics, from who should use cognitive enhancers to the business of neurotechnology.
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