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The Amazing / Terrifying Future of Medicine

Jacob Appel – Brown University


01/25/2020 10:00 am



The future of medicine is both amazing and terrifying. For the first time in human history, individual scientists and clinicians have the power to alter radically ways in which we live that were never before possible.

In China, a geneticist edits the genes of embryos in an effort to prevent HIV. An Italian surgeon recruits critically-ill patients as candidates for the first human brain transplant. Authorities in California use DNA profiles to capture a notorious serial killer. A Swiss religious sect attempts to clone its own members. Medical technology is advancing at unprecedented speeds—raising the prospect of personalized therapies and cures for diseases like cancer, but also concerns that legal standards and ethical norms have not kept pace with scientific “progress.”

This presentation explores some of the most exciting recent developments in medicine that promise to help us live longer, healthier, more fulfilling lives, ranging from novel reproductive technologies and cutting edge immunotherapies to the harvesting of “big data” and the implementation of new systems of information exchange. We will also address both the ethical challenges that arise when these technologies work as promised, such as who should pay for a drug that costs $1.25 million per dose, and what safeguards, if any, exist for keeping these technologies away from those whose rogue actions could cause irreparable damage to us all.