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A joint program of the Levan Institute for Humanities and Ethics and the Sidney Harman Academy for Polymathic Study

The series is organized by USC students in health and medicine who seek dialogue with USC faculty across disciplines in order to increase the integration of ethical themes into their curriculum. 

zygo / ˈzʌɪgəʊ, ˈzɪgəʊ pref. relating to union or joining.

ZYGO Student Director - 2014-2015: Varun Awasthi, Dornsife Natural Sciences '16 and Keck Global Health '16

HOBBY LOBBY: The Ethics of Healthcare between Corporation, Church and State

Friday, October 3, 2014, Doheny Memorial Library 241 | 12:30-1:30 PM | Lunch Provided

RSVP

In September 2012, Hobby Lobby, a chain of arts and crafts stores, filed a lawsuit against the United States over a provision in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) which mandated that health insurance provided by employers must include access to emergency contraceptives. Hobby Lobby stated that this provision violated their religious beliefs, and argued that they were protected by the First Amendment and Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA). The Supreme Court eventually ruled in their favor. This panel will seek to discuss the various ethical issues associated with the intersection of religion and health care, and the implications of this ruling. Is it ethical for a corporation to determine the exact services included in government- mandated health insurance for religious reasons? Furthermore, did this PPACA provision prevent Hobby Lobby from freely exercising religion, for which the RFRA was initially enacted? 

Moderator: Varun Awasthi, ZYGO Student Director

Panelists:
Varun Soni, Dean, USC Office of Religious Life
Hilary Schor, University Professor, English, Comparative Literature, Gender Studies and Law

PHARMACEUTICAL ACCESS: Global Drug Management and Underserved Populations

Friday, October 24, 2014, Doheny Memorial Library 241 | 12:30-1:30 PM | Lunch Provided

RSVP 

The pharmaceutical industry is frequently criticized as being focused entirely on making a profit and not truly caring for the well-being of the people. This seminar will seek to explore if pharmaceutical companies have any ethical obligations towards underserved populations, or if, like any other company, they ultimately serve as a means of improving the economy of their local community. After the Agreement of Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights was passed by the World Trade Organization in 1996, countries were able to apply for compulsory licenses through which they could produce generic copies of these drugs without the permission of the patent owner. Since 2003, compulsory license holders can also export generic drugs to other countries that lack production capabilities. Panelists will consider if compulsory licenses are an ethical obligation for pharmaceutical companies and if this system adequately gives credit to the initial patent holder.

DOCTORS VS. PARENTS: Decision-making in Pediatrics

Friday, November 21, 2014, Doheny Memorial Library 241 | 12:30-1:30 PM | Lunch Provided

RSVP

Making decisions for children in a medical context can be extremely stressful and complex. In some notable pediatric cases, parents have made decisions that strongly go against the recommendations of doctors. Such cases have included denying treatment for cancer or refusing to allow their children to receive vaccinations. In the case that a child appears to be suffering from serious abuse or neglect, medical centers are now able to forcibly provide care by involving Child Protective Services (CPS). However, this service has often been criticized for being used incorrectly and simply as a means for health care providers to avoid liabilities. Panelists for this seminar will discuss whether parents or doctors should have the final decision in which treatments children should receive. Furthermore, panelists will discuss how CPS can most appropriately be implemented in a medical setting and if treatment should be forced if deemed medically necessary.

Spring 2014 Events

HALF THE STORY: The Increasing Role of Alternative Medicine

Friday, April 25, 2014, 12:30-2 PM | Doheny Memorial Library 241

Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) is being used increasingly alongside conventional medical treatments for a wide variety of medical conditions; however, the techniques employed by alternative health systems such as Ayurveda or Traditional Chinese Medicine have not been researched in a manner acceptable according to many US physicians. This seminar seeks to explore how alternative medicine is currently being used in conjunction with conventional medicine and alternative medicine's academic status. Panelists will discuss how alternative medicine and cross-cultural healing is being integrated into medical school activities, if at all, and whether research on alternative techniques is increasing in the United States.

Moderator: Pavitra Krishnamani, ZYGO Director, Levan Graduate Fellow and Harman Academy Fellow

Panelists:
Julia Borovay, Professor, HP 450, “Traditional Eastern Medicine & Modern Health,” Keck School of Medicine
Murali Nair, Clinical Professor and Co-Author of “Healing Across Cultures,” USC School of Social Work
Armaity Austin, MD, Associate Professor of Clinical Family Medicine and Education Committee Co-Chair at the USC Institute for Integrative Health, Keck School of Medicine
Debu Tripathy, MD, Professor of Medicine, Priscilla and Art Ulene Chair in Women’s Cancer, and Clinical Committee Co-Chair at the USC Institute for Integrative Health, Keck School of Medicine
Samantha Myers, Fourth-year Medical Student, Keck School of Medicine
Kristen Roehl, Second-year Medical Student, Keck School of Medicine

Pictured (from left): Samantha Myers, Debu Tripathy, Pavitra Krishnamani, Murali Nair, Armaity Austin, and Julia Boravay (not pictured: Kristen Roehl)

AUTHORITY TO KILL: The Human Choice to Euthanize Humans and Other Animals

Friday, March 28, 2014, 12:30-2 PM | The Fishbowl (URC)

In both research and veterinary medicine, humans have been given the right to decide when it is humane for an animal to be put down. However, it is not the same with other human beings, as evidenced by the debate about human euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide (PAS). While some countries have legalized PAS, the United States remains in doubt about giving patients the “right to die” and doctors the authority to euthanize them as per their wishes. It is out of this debate that legal documents such as the advanced directives have arisen. This seminar will seek to explore the perspectives on both animal and human euthanasia and discuss if, and under what circumstances, human beings have the authority to kill.

Moderator: Isabella Wu, ZYGO Program Manager, Levan Scholar and Dornsife Undergraduate

Panelists:
Alex Capron, University Professor, USC Gould School of Law, Scott H. Bice Chair in Healthcare Law, Policy and Ethics, Professor of Law and Medicine, Keck School of Medicine, Co-Director, Pacific Center for Health Policy and Ethics
Ilanit Brook, MD, Assistant Professor, Pediatrics and Palliative Care, Keck School of Medicine
Jim Burklo, Associate Dean, USC Office of Religious Life
William DePaolo, Assistant Professor, Molecular Microbiology and Immunology, Keck School of Medicine

HOLOCAUST EXPERIMENTS’ EFFECTS ON MODERN MEDICINE: Looking Back to Move Forward

Friday, February 28, 2014, 12:30 PM | Doheny Memorial Library G28

Co-sponsored by the USC Shoah Foundation – The Institute for Visual History and Education

Human experimentation was a major war crime during the Holocaust and cruel experiments resulted in the death and disability of many, but yielded medical research. USC Libraries hosts a copy of “Pernkoph atlas” – a highly controversial Nazi medical publication. This seminar will discuss questions about this resource, such as:  If USC Libraries hosts a copy of this book do Nazi experiments become an accepted part of medical history? What can we learn from these experiments?  From a broad perspective, questions will be asked, such as:  What are the conceivable uses for these types of texts? How have we used other ethically questionable medical or psychological experiments to inform us ethically and academically?

Moderator: Pavitra Krishnamani, ZYGO Director, Levan Graduate Fellow and Harman Academy Fellow

Panelists:
Wolf Gruner, Shapell-Guerin Chair in Jewish Studies and Professor of History
Sari Siegel, USC Graduate Student studying Nazi medicine
Megan Rosenbloom, Head of Metadata & Content Management for the Norris Medical Library

Pictured (from left): Megan Rosenbloom, Pavitra Krishnamani, Sari Siegel, and Wolf Gruner