Hundreds of patients nationally have diseases that have confounded doctors and yielded no diagnosis and no reliable treatment. Today the Undiagnosed Diseases Network, founded and funded by the NIH, helps these patients, but its funding is uncertain beyond 2022. Patients and a physician leader of the UDN discuss the lonely plight of these patients and the hope UDN provides.
Since the Covid-19 pandemic began, public health experts have looked to vaccines with the goal of creating “herd immunity,” where so many people are vaccinated that the virus stalls out. Now it is clear we will not reach that goal, meaning the threat of the pandemic may drag on for years. One of the nation’s leading infectious disease experts discusses how we are missing the target and what it means.
In the race to perform the first human-to-human heart transplant, ethical corners were sometimes cut. An investigative journalist explains how a black man’s heart was harvested without his family’s consent for the first human heart transplant in the South, and how incidents such as this help to explain ongoing African-American distrust of medicine.
Development of a Coronavirus vaccine is proceeding at a breakneck pace. What needs to happen to make sure it’s safe and effective? And if a vaccine is successfully made, who should get it first? Will enough people opt in to get back to normal life, or will COVID-19 be with us for years? Experts discuss.
It’s illegal for health insurers to use genetic testing to discriminate against policyholders. However, life insurers can and do discriminate on that basis if the test is in your medical file. Private testing lets patients know their risk for many diseases without landing in health files. Advocates want to make it illegal for life insurers to also discriminate on this basis, but it may end up with higher costs for everyone. Experts explain.
A lack of ventilators potentially puts doctors in the position of deciding which of their COVID-19 patients get a ventilator and live, and which ones don’t get one and die. New rules for making such decisions have been released which are designed to be fair and independent. The designer of the rules explains.
Some experts believe the healthy lifespan eventually may be extended to hundreds of years through genetic manipulation. This brings many philosophical and ethical questions, which a noted science author discusses.
Spouses of Alzheimer’s disease patients often struggle with depression while caregiving and are desperate for support. Some have started new relationships while their loved one is still alive but no longer recognizes them. Acceptance of such infidelity is highly individual. Experts and a woman involved in such a relationship discuss how it can benefit even the incapacitated spouse, as long as families find it acceptable.
The debate over vaccination isn’t as civil as it once was, and leaves little room for common ground or even discussion. Pro-vaccine advocates often point to science showing safety and effectiveness, but as a noted medical humanities researcher explains, values common among anti-vaccine advocates lead them to reject this science, and both sides need to understand where the disconnect comes from.
Rich people receive deference that the rest of us don’t, but do wealthy kids grow up knowing they can get away with what others can’t? Research finds that all children apparently know this. Experts discuss.
Some agencies estimate that 50,000 children have been born in the US using donor eggs. But egg donation (or sale, as some insist) is not regulated, and while short term risks are known, few donors have been followed for years. Long term risks are not well understood. Experts discuss what we know… and what we don’t.
Intelligence agencies have long sought ways to control the mind to get people to do their bidding. An author discusses his investigation into CIA mind control efforts in the 1950’s and 60’s through the use of psychedelic drugs, which unwittingly led to an explosion of the drugs’ use.
Rising levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere are making crops grow bigger & faster. However, researchers have found that these crops contain significantly lower levels of protein, iron, zinc, and other important nutrients, potentially endangering nutrition for hundreds of millions of people. Experts explain the effect will get worse as CO2 levels continue to rise, and what might be done to combat the problem.
Gig work is becoming more and more a part of the American economy. It takes a certain temperament for a worker to thrive on the freedom gig work offers without being paralyzed by the lack of security. Experts discuss the psychological benefits and difficulties of multiple part time jobs or freelancing.
The availability of consumer DNA tests and databases has allowed long-hidden family secrets to be revealed, including mistaken paternity and unknown siblings. It has also taken the anonymity away from some cases of sperm donation. Two experts discuss the ethics of overturning this promised secrecy and the impact that the revelation of secrets can have on entire families.