Talking Bioethics

Diana Alame, student editor of issue one, welcomes readers to the HMS Bioethics Journal.

Welcome to the Harvard Medical School Bioethics Journal.  

As the first student editor, I am excited and honored to present this inaugural issue. In working with the leadership at the Center for Bioethics, we agreed that the Journal’s purpose is to broaden the bioethical discussion of current events and issues by combining academic rigor with journalistic accessibility. Because of the breadth and depth of the field of bioethics, we will include an article devoted to a particular aspect or subspecialty of bioethics in each issue. 

We hope to offer a topic of interest to everyone because each individual is, or can be, affected by the matters addressed under the umbrella of bioethics. Despite differences of politics, gender, race, or immigration status, this personal stake in bioethics is something that unifies us all. Wes Boyd passionately makes this point in the feature article, sharing his perspective on what our society owes refugees. Having dedicated much of his professional life to caring for asylum seekers, he writes about the ethical obligations to the real people behind the current U.S. immigration policy debate.

Keeping with national issues, the health law and policy article examines how the 21st Century Cures Act will affect drug development and safety, affordability, and access to the drugs it intends to speed through the FDA approval process. “Bioethics in the Media” articles will help keep readers up-to-date, while book reviews will highlight the work of a contemporary author in bioethics accompanied by a video interview with the author. In this issue, Lauren Taylor discusses her book, The American Health Care Paradox.

The “Frontiers” section will include matters at the leading edge of scientific discovery and changing social behavior that raise bioethical questions. In this issue, we assess the ethical implications of using big data to ration care and genomics in “precision medicine.”

The clinical ethics feature shifts the lens to individual experiences and choices, a vital and complex part of bioethics. In this issue’s clinical feature, a lawyer-ethicist faculty member, engages the linkages of navigating the complex life or death decision of a pregnant woman and her husband.

The Journal also welcomes readers into the life of Harvard Medical School's Center for Bioethics with “Spotlight” on a student, fellow, visiting scholar, or faculty member and the work they do at the Center in a video interview included in each issue. If you would like more to read, follow links to the most recent publications in the academic and popular press written by Center students, fellows, and faculty. We hope that you will delve into these publications, which are just a sampling of some of the Center’s work.

This issue of the Bioethics Journal is a testament to Harvard Medical School’s commitment to engaging the widest possible audience in addressing bioethical matters of importance within our society and global community, and fostering a global discourse in bioethics. Harvard is not an ivory tower; we do not want to talk only amongst ourselves. We welcome a multitude of voices, perspectives, and opinions, so please subscribe to future issues and submit your own articles, questions, or comments.

I hope you will join us in exploring the personal, political, medical, and technologic crossroads that is modern bioethics.


Diana Alame, MD, MBE ’17
Student Editor
Harvard Medical School Bioethics Journal

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