Category: 2018

2018, Journalistic Reporting

An Integrative Education: Georgetown’s Complementary and Alternative Medicine Program Sparks Debate

ALEX LEWONTIN

The Georgetown University Medical Center’s MS in Physiology focusing on Complementary and Alternative Medicine Program has come under fire from ‘science-based medicine’ advocates for teaching practices that they consider quackery and pseudo-science. This article investigates the arguments made by both proponents and opponents of the program. The article was originally published in print and online by The Georgetown Voice on February 9, 2018.

2018, Journalistic Reporting

Reflecting On My Grandmother’s Death

REBECCA ZARITSKY

This work was inspired by my grandmother, Luybov Kapuza, who recently ended her battle with Alzheimer’s. Through watching my grandmother suffer, I developed strong views on several bioethical topics, the most prominent of which was euthanasia. 

This work was explaining the way my grandmother lived and died, and presenting an alternative scenario. It makes the case that one cause is more ethical than the other. Doctors swear to uphold ethics—do no harm—but we still question when doing nothing is taking the most harmful path? For this reason, euthanasia is an essential issue to bring up in the case of medical or bioethics. What should doctors do when presented with a case that is sure to deteriorate and have no measurable quality of life?

I felt that presenting a real-life case—the case of my grandmother and her family as she deteriorated—would demonstrate best my argument that euthanasia is a humane decision for doctors to make, pushing the bioethical debate and also stressing its importance.

2018, Journalistic Reporting

Reconciling Drug Use With Ethics and Religion

WILLIAM LEO

As a Jesuit university, Georgetown has always had a strong connection to religious traditions and ethics. But the question of how drug use and religion intersect causes confusion for many young people on campus. This article interrogates different religious traditions and their views on drug use, in addition to interviewing students and presenting their experiences on the intersection between spiritual belief and recreational substance use.

2018, Journalistic Reporting

The American Canaries of WWI: How the US Conducted Fatal Chemical Weapon Tests on US Soldiers

MAYA JAMES

Since learning about Henrietta Lacks and the Tuskegee Experiments, I’ve always been interested in exploring the accounts of bad medicine, bad science, and at-risk communities. The power dynamics between doctors/scientists and their patient can have long-term effects on the health of an individual and their community (eg. black women’s pain is severely underestimated compared to their non-black counterparts). However, the American University Experiment Station (AUES) chemical weapons testing presented an interesting situation outside my typical interest, in which the uneven power dynamic was between commanding officers, scientists, and the soldiers (mainly male and white) who worked beneath them. None of these soldiers were ever forced into experimentation, but they volunteered seemingly unaware of the danger of these new chemical weapons. It was patriotic to volunteer, but the dangers of such experiments were made out to be underwhelming or less dangerous than they actually were. Perhaps the most chilling discovery of all my research was when one DC newspaper wrote that “The time for the ethical discussion of chemical weapons is now over”. It implied that during wartime, ethics could take a backseat until the danger had passed–ethical considerations seemed to hinder patriotic duty. I grew uncomfortable with this idea that ethical considerations could be suspended (even during wartime), and sought to reconcile this discomfort with thorough research about the former chemical weapons test site.

1st Place – Journalistic Reporting

2018, Academic Paper

Behind the Scenes of To Catch a Predator: Uncovering the Environmental and Genetic Factors that Lead to the Development of Phedophilia

SARAH MARTIN

Today we refer to scientific experts rather than exorcists to inform our understanding of the world around us. As a result, epilepsy is considered a medical condition as opposed to demonic possession. Nevertheless, there is an alarming parallel between society’s response to epilepsy in biblical times and society’s response to pedophilia in the 21st century. Modern science informs us that we are a product of our environment and biology. The justice system, however, punishes rather than treats those who do not win the genetic and environmental lottery. Scientific research transformed the climate around epilepsy; yet despite recent efforts to change how we view pedophilia, misconceptions surrounding this condition still exist. The public sees pedophilia as a conscious choice when in reality it is a complex condition which develops from a host of environmental and genetic factors that need to be analyzed to inform the public and our justice system.

2018, Academic Paper

A Third Definition of Death? An Investigation into the Implications of Advanced Medical Technology on Death in the Islamic Tradition

HASAAN MUNIM

Muslims are not in agreement about when death is. Human judgment is inherently flawed, so Muslims defer to Islamic texts on issues of ethics. Medical technology has advanced so fast, and the universe of Muslims and Islamic thought is so wide, that there is no agreed upon standard for death. Determining the time of death is of utmost importance from an Islamic legal perspective. The death of an individual triggers many different legal processes and creates an obligation for a community to bury the body. Physicians with ulterior motives, such as organ transplantation, have entered the discourse on the Islamic definition of death in lieu of Islamic scholars. A return to classical Islamic rulings on responsibility for murder reveal that Muslims have confronted complex issues of death before, and are directly analogous to current biomedical issues. Although there is no consensus definition of death in the Islamic tradition, adopting a third category of life and death based on accepted historical rulings wherein one is “alive but legally dead” shows promise as an Islamic definition in light of recent advances in medical technology.

2nd Place – Academic Paper

2018, Academic Paper

The Role of Gospel in the South African AIDS Epidemic

RADHIKA SAHAI

The Role of Gospel in the South African AIDS Epidemic investigates how Black South Africans combined historical musical traditions with gospel styles imposed upon them during colonization to create a musical style that is distinctly political. This paper investigates the existence and development of this style in HIV activism during the era of AIDS denialism in South Africa. The piece sheds light on effective activism and artistry as well as grounds analysis within the context of the HIV epidemic, an epidemic which continues to impact largely marginalized communities today.

2018, Academic Paper

Addressing the Narratives in Health-Centric Data Collection A Case Study of Chicago and Johannesburg

MARINA SMITH

How we think about social and health problems depends upon data: data informs what those problems are and whom those problems affect. Health-centric data collection often occurs at a national or international level; however, large scale data collection fails to adequately express inequities that occur at local levels. Within cities, inequities in quality of life, environmental exposure, and socioeconomic factors impact traditionally cited health metrics, such as disease prevalence disease or mortality rate. Global cities do not have a standardized method, or even conceptual framework, for collecting small-scale data that measures a holistic set of indicators. This lack of framework precludes local actors from making pragmatic and effective public health decisions. This study will employ a geospatial analysis of two cities with comparatively rich data—Chicago and Johannesburg–to highlight the potential of localized data to inform local health decisions regarding allocation of health resources. The project aims to contribute to an increasingly standardized model for localized urban data collection in order to increase the capacity of cities to reduce urban health inequities.  

3rd Place – Academic Paper

2018, Multimedia + Performance

On Open Access, Euthanasia, And Mental Health

REBECCA ZARITSKY

This podcast was a discussion on my pieces, “On my Grandmother’s Death” and “On the Aftermath of My Grandmother’s Death.” The piece was inspired by my grandmother, Luybov Kapuza, who recently ended her battle with Alzheimer’s. Through watching my grandmother suffer, I developed strong views on several bioethical topics, the most prominent of which was euthanasia.

This work was explaining the way my grandmother lived and died, and presenting an alternative scenario. It makes the case that one cause is more ethical than the other. Doctors swear to uphold ethics—do no harm—but we still question when doing nothing is taking the most harmful path? For this reason, euthanasia is an essential issue to bring up in the case of medical or bioethics. What should doctors do when presented with a case that is sure to deteriorate and have no measurable quality of life?

This piece also discusses financial incentives for caretaking and financial penalties for failure to meet standards of care. This is an important topic as it dictates medical care of the most vulnerable members of society.

I felt that presenting a real-life case—the case of my grandmother and her family as she deteriorated, and in the aftermath of her eventual death—would demonstrate my argument best and push it into the spotlight of bioethical debate.

2018, Multimedia + Performance

Creating a Children’s Book for Chronically Hospitalized Children

RADHIKA SAHAI

Chronically ill children spend extended periods of time in hospital and healthcare settings; they rely on books to engage their imaginations. These children do not have typical childhood experiences (consistently attending school, playing outside, being surrounded by family) as well as having atypical childhood experiences (experiencing pain and isolation from a very young age). Children’s storybooks typically depict a life very unlike that of a chronically hospitalized child and thus, cause many chronically ill children to see their own lives as abnormal, and their experiences isolated. I want to create a children’s story book that follows the narrative of chronically ill children, creates characters and a storyline that children can identify with, and serve as a medium to address the more difficult issues surrounding hospitalization (pain, isolation, etc.). The book will focus on addressing the patient experience and ensuring that chronically hospitalized children do not feel defined, constrained, or isolated by their experiences in the hospital. The book will not only affect patients but will hopefully also encourage healthcare workers to be more aware of the importance of these issues.

2nd Place – Multimedia + Performing Arts