Debates, divisions, and decisions: recombinant DNA advisory committee (RAC) authorization of the first human gene transfer experiments.
Possibly the most far-reaching, controversial research currently being conducted in the international biological science community involves human gene therapy experimentation. In this paper, I report the dynamics of the political process which ultimately found the Recombinant DNA Advisory Committee (RAC) of the National Institutes of Health approving for the first time protocols of this genre. A full appreciation of the policy-making dialogue shows that significant participants perceived the process from very different vantage points regarding the way in which the American political system works and the way in which it ought to work. I argue that, if we are to understand how the RAC should proceed in orchestrating a human gene therapy policy agenda, then we must flesh out and critically analyze these competing vantage points. To that end, I postulate seven possible "action models" for characterizing how protocol assessments of the type at issue might be developed given the nature of our politics, reaching the conclusion that one of these models holds out the most promise for synthesizing efficaciously the key factors involved. In conclusion, I discuss how the RAC might profitably employ this preferred strategy in these and other cases. (+info)
Commentary: isolated stem cells--patentable as cultural artifacts?
This article argues that an isolated embryonic stem cell basically represents a cultural artifact that has no equivalent to cells of the embryo, and that it is likely that the isolation of adult stem cells has a similar consequence. An isolated stem cell could thus be distinguished as something other than the stem cell existing as part of a human body. Since isolation of stem cells implies modification, product patents should, where the results carry enough novelty, inventive step, and potential for industrial application, as a matter of principle be a viable option for patent authorities. Questions of morality, which may affect the patentability, should also be viewed in light of the distinction between isolated result and body part. At the same time, it is essential that patent authorities do not accept broad patent claims that will be detrimental to research. Disclosure of potential conflicts of interest is found at the end of this article. (+info)
The courts, public health, and legal preparedness.
The judicial branch's key roles, as guardian of civil liberties and protector of the rule of law, can be acutely relevant during public health emergencies when courts may need to issue orders authorizing actions to protect public health or restraining public health actions that are determined to unduly interfere with civil rights. Legal preparedness for public health emergencies, therefore, necessitates an understanding of the court system and how courts are involved in public health issues. In this article we briefly describe the court system and then focus on what public health practitioners need to know about the judicial system in a public health emergency, including the courts' roles and the consequent need to keep courts open during emergencies. (+info)
Assessing the long-term impact of drug court participation on recidivism with generalized estimating equations.
Drug courts are one of the most common strategies for dealing with the large proportion of criminal offenders who are drug-involved, yet methodological limitations limit the conclusions that can be drawn from many existing evaluations of their effectiveness. The current study examined the long-term impact of drug court participation compared to regular probation on the recidivism of 475 drug-involved offenders under supervision in Hillsborough County, Florida. Using a combination of self-reported data (collected through in-person interviews at baseline, i.e., the beginning of supervision) and administrative records, the study employed a repeated measures framework (examining five 6-month time periods from baseline to 30 months post-baseline) and generalized estimating equations to compare the likelihood of being arrested between drug court participants and a matched sample of comparison offenders. The results indicate that participation in drug court was associated with a significant decrease in the likelihood of being arrested in the 12-18 months post-baseline time period. Although the drug court effect was somewhat delayed (it was not significant prior to 12 months) and short-lived (it was not significant after 18 months), the fact that significant program effects were observed during a time period that coincides with the conclusion of drug court participation for graduates and a time period well beyond initial program exposure, suggests that drug court participants are more likely than comparable offenders not exposed to drug court to remain arrest free when no longer under community supervision. (+info)
A study about families of children and teenagers who were victims of violence and faced judicial intervention.
The goal of this study was to track the steps of families that committed some kind of violence against their children and faced judicial intervention, as well as to explore their perceptions about the events involving such intervention; to quantify and assess the lawsuits, during the period from 2000 to 2005, characterizing situations of family violence and re-victimization. The study was theoretically based on the ecological context of human development. The methodology employed was quantitative-qualitative. The tools used were: analysis of the proceedings, filling out census maps, elaboration of genogram and ecomap. The analysis was based on dialectic hermeneutics. The results showed that there were 1766 lawsuits at the court, 8.21% of which were linked to family violence. Three empirical categories came up: I didn't have, which portrays a kind of childhood where negation was a constructive element of interactions, perversely engendered in the economic, political and institutional universes; "It doesn't help and it won't change anything" showed a Judicial System that did not understand society and its conflicts, and "In the street", featuring everyday routines of social exclusion. (+info)
Litigation-generated science: why should we care?