LabBook November 16, 2012

View of downtown Chicago from the 7th floor Sky Lobby in the new Center for Care and Discovery

Welcome to LabBook, our weekly roundup of University of Chicago Medicine & Biological Sciences research news from around campus and the world wide web. Each Friday, LabBook will recap the week on the blog, link to news stories about our faculty and studies, and briefly summarize a handful of recent publications by our researchers.


Last week the Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues convened a two-day meeting at the University of Chicago Divinity School to discuss the complex ethical issues surrounding medical research involving children. The group addressed how to protect children from potential bioterrorism attacks and pandemics, and will issue a final report to President Obama and Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius in early 2013.

What can dinosaurs teach us about the future? Graduate student Jonathan Mitchell developed a software modeling technique to simulate how changes to ancient ecosystems affected their vulnerability to catastrophic events, like the asteroid strike that triggered a massive extinction at the end of the Cretaceous period. Researchers can now use these tools to better assess the impact of human activity on our modern environment.

The MacLean Center for Clinical Medical Ethics awarded its second annual $50,000 prize to Peter Singer, MD, MPH, University of Toronto professor and CEO of Global Challenges Canada, for his work on global health. At the ceremony, Singer urged his colleagues to think bigger about bioethics, calling it “a form of social innovation or a form of social entrepreneurship that leads to sustainable impact and scale.”


Earlier this year I spoke to bioethicist Lainie Ross about her new proposal for adjusting the donor kindey allocation system to make it more fair and efficient. Despite this proposal, the United Network for Organ Sharing is likely to adopt an alternate allocation system that Ross says is unethical. She wrote about her objections to the new system in an op-ed for US News & World Report.

A person’s health can have a substantial affect on their happiness and well-being. This seems obvious, but a new study by a group of researchers including Jennifer Ghandhi from the Harris School of Public Policy actually quantified just how much health affects happiness, and in what ways. They found that health problems that limit daily activities such as incontinence or joint pain have a bigger impact on happiness than a potentially fatal disease like cancer. The study was featured in redOrbit.

Finally, if you like a little science in your moviegoing, join UChicago Arts on Dec. 6 at the Logan Center for a screening of “A Beautiful Mind” followed by a discussion on psychiatry and economics with Michael Marcangelo, MD, Assistant Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Neuroscience, Roger Myerson, Nobel Laureate 2007 and the Glen A. Lloyd Distinguished Service Professor of Economics, and Robert Rosenberg (Moderator), Associate VP for Communications, and Adjunct Associate Professor of Entrepreneurship at Chicago Booth. Tickets are available through the Logan Center box office.

About Matt Wood (531 Articles)
Matt Wood is a senior science writer and manager of communications at the University of Chicago Medicine & Biological Sciences Division.
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