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Undergraduate researchers take on women’s health issues

This summer, the Kennedy Institute welcomes undergraduates Lizzie Gromet and Joe Liotta as Research Associates.

Lizzie Gromet ’14

Major: Neurobiology with a minor in Theology

Hometown: Greenwich, CT

This summer, KIE director Maggie Little and Lizzie will be researching the ethics underlying abortion. “Specifically we are attempting to define an ethically consistent ‘pro-life with exceptions’ perspective, with regard to both ethical thought/theory and policy,” says Lizzie.

“When I began researching this topic for Professor Little’s Bioethics class, I was struck by the complexity of the ethical arguments and I feel that through that project, I only just began to get a grasp on the complicated arguments and opinions; thus, I am excited to more thoroughly research the topic this summer. I am also very interested in topics relating to autonomy and bioethics, such as voluntary active euthanasia.”

Outside of bioethics, Lizzie enjoys neurobiology and psychology. She has also taken personally engaging courses that overlap between religion, science, and philosophy, and hopes to take at least one or two more this coming year.

She is very involved with GERMS, where she serves as president. She also tutors high school students in the Math SATs, does yoga, cooks, and occasionally contemplates starting a food blog.

Joe Liotta ’14

Major: Philosophy with a concentration in Bioethics

Hometown: Andover, MA

This summer Joe will be assisting Professor Little with the Second Wave Initiative, an academic effort that advocates for and helps locate ethically responsible solutions for increasing knowledge of the medical treatment of pregnant women.

“Pregnant women bring a unique set of challenges to physicians and clinical researchers,” says Joe. “In the United States, pregnant women are often excluded from clinical trials out of fear of potential harm to the fetus. As a result, there is very little data on how medications affect pregnant women. This is problematic because pregnancy affects both pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics. And even more basically, sick women still become pregnant and pregnant women still become sick. I think it is imperative that we find ethically responsible models for including pregnant women in research in order to better understand how to treat them safely and effectively.”

Joe is also interested in other areas of bioethics—he is currently working with Madison Powers on a thesis on genetics and human enhancement.

Besides studying philosophy, Joe works at Uncommon Grounds and is the captain of Georgetown University Club Rock Climbing.