Transforming Ourselves: NYAS Panel Examines Human Enhancement

Guest post by science writer Carl Sherman

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Image: Shutterstock

This was the premise of a public symposium at New York Academy of Sciences, presented by the Aspen Brain Institute, the Hastings Center, and the Academy.

While the prospect demands sound scientific policy, its associated moral, social, and political issues require a broader base of expertise. The symposium accordingly brought together a genetics researcher, a futurist and author, and experts on bioethics and artificial intelligence to explore the promise and perils of human enhancement.

“All the technologies we need to fundamentally transform our species already exist,” said futurist and sci-fi novelist Jamie Metzl. “With the mapping of the genome, we could read the code of life; with gene editing technology, we can write it.”

Genomic advances are making reproductive technology transformative, he said. With preimplantation embryo screening, parents can select, among a dozen IVF embryos, one free of certain genetic diseases and with preferred eye color and gender. As personal genotyping spreads, accumulating data will clarify genetic patterns underlying personality, intelligence, physical prowess, appearance, and other traits to give parents a broader spectrum of options.

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Public Event: Managing Neuropsychiatric Symptoms in Neurodegenerative Disease

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Neuropsychiatric symptoms such as agitation, aggression and psychosis are frequently found in patients with neurodegenerative disorders. These symptoms increase the already significant burden of neurodegenerative diseases and complicate diagnosis and disease management, yet effective diagnostics and treatments are lacking.

Towards the goal of reducing this burden, this symposium will review state-of-the-art methods in the diagnosis and behavioral and pharmaceutical management of neuropsychiatric symptoms across a spectrum of neurodegenerative diseases. Speakers will address the challenges of defining neuropsychiatric symptoms in the context of neurodegenerative diseases, present findings regarding emerging diagnostic biomarkers and novel therapies, and discuss current estimates of associated societal and economic costs. A closing panel discussion will identify strategies to reduce these costs for patients, caregivers, and society.

Call for Abstracts

Abstract submissions are invited for a poster session. For complete submission instructions, please visit this online portal. The deadline for abstract submission is Friday, April 27, 2018.

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Dana News E-Blast: July

Below is yesterday’s Dana News email blast. You can sign up to receive this (and other Dana email alerts and/or print publications) by going here.

The Power of Tau

july eblastby Patrick F. Sullivan, MD, FRANZCP

In July 2014, an international consortium of schizophrenia researchers mounted the largest biological experiment in the history of psychiatry. Now, with many more avenues for exploring the biological underpinnings of schizophrenia available to neuroscientists, hope may be on the way for the estimated 1 in 100 people worldwide affected by the illness. From Cerebrum, our online magazine of ideas. Also check out a Q&A with Dr. Sullivan.

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Dana News E-Blast: May

Below is last week’s Dana news email blast. You can sign up to receive this (and other Dana email alerts and/or print publications) by going here.

The Power of Tau

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by Kenneth S. Kosik, MD

Tau protein helps nerve cells in the brain maintain their function and structure. When tau turns toxic, replicates, and spreads, neurons misfire and die. If neuroscientists can pinpoint the reasons for toxicity, identify possible modified tau states, and find a way to block tau’s movement from cell to cell, then progress can be made in fighting any number of neurological disorders. From Cerebrum, our online magazine of ideas. Continue reading

Series Finale: Dementia Decoded

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