We are bioethicists, science communicators, and science policy experts with the Duke University Initiative for Science & Society here to answer your questions related to the pandemic. AUA!
[CLOSING EDIT] Thank you all for so many phenomenal questions. Your response was greater than we ever expected and it has been encouraging to see so many people asking the right questions! This was a new experience for most of our experts and they had blast.
Special thanks to the members of our SciPol.org team, Sarah Rispin-Sedlak, Brian Langloss, and Andrew Pericak for jumping in last-minute to field a few questions of their own. They were not listed in our original post below. Definitely check out the work they are doing to track and make accessible current science policy movements in our government.
If you are interested in learning more about what we do, visit our YouTube channel where we share events and other discussions centered around a wide variety of issues in bio/tech ethics and science policy. You can also find us on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.
One last plug, if you are very passionate about solving these complex questions and so many more facing society, check out Duke's Master of Arts in Bioethics & Science Policy Program where we are training students to not just analyze the hard issues, but also how to create actionable policies that will make a difference in our lives.
This pandemic has put bioethics, tech ethics, and science policy front and center in many of our minds as governments and citizens around the world struggle to respond to these unprecedented circumstances.
Whether it’s deciding who gets tested and which patient gets a ventilator when supplies are short or how personal cell phone data should be used by federal, state, and local governments to fight the spread of the virus, difficult decisions are being made on micro and macro scales that affect every corner of our present and future lives.
The answers are rarely simple. So how do we leverage science and technology to maximize benefits and reduce harms to create actionable policies that not only see us through our present crisis, but better prepare us for the future as well?
Here to Answer Your Questions:
Nita Farahany, PhD, JD – I’m a scholar on the ethical, legal, and social implications of emerging technologies. I was appointed by President Obama to the Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues and served until 2017. I established the Bioethics, Tech Ethics, and Science Policy Graduate Program at Duke to prepare students to identify, analyze, and propose solutions to issues like those we are seeing during this global health crisis. Twitter @ NitaFarahany
Thomas Wilson Williams, JD - I’m currently following FDA action, including human challenge trials, and have a pretty nuanced understanding of the federalism structure with respect to public health powers and the division of that power between the states and the federal government.
Ariana Eily, PhD - I’ve been paying careful attention to the communication aspects both from the scientific side as well as from the government, and comparing different channels of information to find ones that are very comprehensible. I’ve also been watching the different reactions across the board to try to find avenues of communication that could be effective as we move forward. Twitter @ Ari_Eily
Jory Weintraub, PhD - I’m happy to answer any questions about science communication, including specific questions about effective science communication during the pandemic and ways to talk about uncertainty in science (of which there is plenty, right now) and how to discuss controversial science topics in non-confrontational ways. Twitter @ JoryWeintraub
Michael “Buz” Waitzkin, JD – I practiced law in the District of Columbia for 35 years and have extensive experience in advising the biomedical research community on issues relating to legal and regulatory strategy and ethics. I now teach on those topics at Duke.
Ben Shepard – I’m a staff member with Duke Science & Society and a Master’s student in Duke’s Bioethics, Tech Ethics & Science Policy program. I’m interested in how big data, digital epidemiology, and data privacy are helping and/or harming the effort. But I’m mostly here to facilitate the Q&A with our experts : )
What ethics and policy questions have touched your lives? We’ll be back at 4pm (ET) to answer your questions!
Our answers are our own and do not represent the views of Duke University.