Monthly Archives: August 2010

The Recent Court Decision Halting Federal Funding for Research Involving Human Embryonic Stem Cells

You will all have read about last Monday’s surprise decision by a federal judge to halt federal funding for human embryonic stem cell (hESC) research. The ruling, which was in response to a lawsuit by scientists who were engaged in non-hESC research, was based upon the judge’s interpretation of a Congressional ban on using federal funds for the destruction of embryos that is sharply at odds with more than a decade of legal interpretations under three administrations, Republican as well as Democratic. Although the decision on hESC research does not extend to other kinds of stem cell research – including… read more Read More

Sham Surgery

In clinical trials that test new drugs for Parkinson’s disease, the process is fairly straightforward: some people get the real stuff and others get a sugar or placebo pill. It looks identical to the pill containing the new drug, but doesn’t offer the new compound. Here everyone (the person with Parkinson’s and physician) enters the trial knowing that a certain amount of deception is necessary from the outset….no one knows which pill is which. That is a good thing scientifically. There is an overwhelming consensus that double-blinded experiments, in which participants are randomly assigned to receive a placebo, result in… read more Read More