All the News That’s Not Fit to Print

<<With apologies to the New York Times.>>

I know I’m really behind in my reading, but I ran across a item of interest in the November 2008 issue of Scientific American that I wanted to share. In the “In Brief” sidebar of their News Scan section, there was a short item on page 36. It mentions a new successful treatment in mice for strokes. What they don’t tell you is actually much more interesting.

I haven’t been able to locate the original reference to the specific study they mention, so I don’t know precisely what type of stem cells the researchers were using in that study: embryonic stem cells,  adult stem cells, or induced pluripotent stem cells (iPS cells). However, as far back as 2004, researchers were already treating strokes in research animals using adult stem cells, one of the types of stem cells that does not require the destruction of a human embryo.

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Freedom of Choice?

Every December, I renew my membership in the IEEE (formerly known as the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers). I keep this membership to stay somewhat connected to my educational roots as a systems engineer, even though my career path took me in a different direction some years ago. The IEEE has a Code of Ethics for its members, something I presume all members have read and, by maintaining a membership with the organization, subscribe and adhere to.

According to the first item in the code, I “agree to to accept responsibility in making decisions consistent with the safety, health and welfare of the public, and to disclose promptly factors that might endanger the public or the environment.” Now you may think this isn’t a big deal–after all, we’re just talking about engineers--but members of this organization are engineers that work in all aspects of life, from designing weapons systems to electric power plants to the brake controllers for freight trains. In essence, members of this organization touch our lives each and every day in countless ways that we don’t even know about.

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