Blissful Ignorance: How Environmental Activists Shut Down Molecular Biology Labs in High Schools

Posted 10 November 2015 by Jalees Rehman

Hearing about the HannoverGEN project made me feel envious and excited. Envious, because I wish my high school had offered the kind of hands-on molecular biology training provided to high school students in Hannover, the capital of the German state of Niedersachsen. Excited, because it reminded me of the joy I felt when I first isolated DNA and ran gels after restriction enzyme digests during my first year of university in Munich. I knew that many of the students at... Read more

Feel Our Pain: Empathy and Moral Behavior

Posted 14 October 2015 by Jalees Rehman

"It's empathy that makes us help other people. It's empathy that makes us moral." The economist Paul Zak casually makes this comment in his widely watched TED talk about the hormone oxytocin, which he dubs the "moral molecule". Zak quotes a number of behavioral studies to support his claim that oxytocin increases empathy and trust, which in turn increases moral behavior. If all humans regularly inhaled a few puffs of oxytocin through a nasal spray, we could become more compassionate and... Read more

The “Invisible Web” Undermines Health Information Privacy

Posted 29 July 2015 by Jalees Rehman

"The goal of privacy is not to protect some stable self from erosion but to create boundaries where this self can emerge, mutate, and stabilize. What matters here is the framework— or the procedure— rather than the outcome or the substance. Limits and constraints, in other words, can be productive— even if the entire conceit of "the Internet" suggests otherwise.          Evgeny Morozov in "To Save Everything, Click Here: The Folly of Technological Solutionism"   We cherish privacy in health matters... Read more

Moral Time: Does Our Internal Clock Influence Moral Judgments?

Posted 20 October 2014 by Jalees Rehman

Does morality depend on the time of the day? The study "The Morning Morality Effect: The Influence of Time of Day on Unethical Behavior" published in October of 2013 by Maryam Kouchaki and Isaac Smith suggested that people are more honest in the mornings, and that their ability to resist the temptation of lying and cheating wears off as the day progresses. In a series of experiments, Kouchaki and Smith found that moral awareness and self-control in their study subjects decreased... Read more

The Road to Bad Science Is Paved with Obedience and Secrecy

Posted 8 July 2014 by Jalees Rehman

We often laud intellectual diversity of a scientific research group because we hope that the multitude of opinions can help point out flaws and improve the quality of research long before it is finalized and written up as a manuscript. The recent events surrounding the research in one of the world's most famous stem cell research laboratories at Harvard shows us the disastrous effects of suppressing diverse and dissenting opinions. The infamous "Orlic paper" was a landmark research article published in... Read more

To Err Is Human, To Study Errors Is Science

Posted 21 May 2014 by Jalees Rehman

The family of cholesterol lowering drugs known as 'statins' are among the most widely prescribed medications for patients with cardiovascular disease. Large-scale clinical studies have repeatedly shown that statins can significantly lower cholesterol levels and the risk of future heart attacks, especially in patients who have already been diagnosed with cardiovascular disease. A more contentious issue is the use of statins in individuals who have no history of heart attacks, strokes or blockages in their blood vessels. Instead of waiting... Read more

Neutrality, Balance and Anonymous Sources in Science Blogging – #scioStandards

Posted 24 February 2014 by Jalees Rehman

This is Part 2 of a series of blog posts in anticipation of the Upholding standards in scientific blogs (Session 10B, #scioStandards) session which I will be facilitating at noon on Saturday, March 1 at the upcoming ScienceOnline conference (February 27 – March 1, 2014 in Raleigh, NC - USA). Please read Part 1 here. The goal of these blog posts is to raise questions which readers can ponder and hopefully discuss during the session. 1.       Neutrality Neutrality is prized... Read more

Should Doctors ‘Google’ Their Patients?

Posted 15 October 2013 by Jalees Rehman

Here is an excerpt from my latest post on the 3Quarksdaily blog:   Beware of what you share. Employers now routinely utilize internet search engines or social network searches to obtain information about job applicants. A survey of 2,184 hiring managers and human resource professionals conducted by the online employment website revealed that 39% use social networking sites to research job candidates. Of the group who used social networks to evaluate job applicants, 43% found content on a social networking site that caused them to... Read more

Prescribing Male Contraceptives: Ethical Considerations

Posted 1 August 2013 by Jalees Rehman

There have been a series of interesting comments on Twitter about the ethical dilemma involved in prescribing male contraceptives, prompted by my recent essay for Aeon Magazine. Here is the relevant excerpt from the Aeon essay: The discontinuation of the WHO/CONRAD trial was a major setback in bringing male contraceptives to the market. It also raised difficult ethical questions about how to evaluate side effects in male contraceptive trials. Since all medications are bound to exhibit some side effects, what... Read more

Male Contraception

Posted 31 July 2013 by Jalees Rehman

My recent essay for Aeon Magazine discusses the development of newer male contraceptives which may offer a degree of reliability and reversibility similar to that of female contraceptives. Male hormonal contraceptives have been tested in small clinical trials since the 1970s, but none of them have been approved for general use. Research funding agencies and pharmaceutical companies need to make the necessary investments and forge partnerships so that the stalled research in male contraception can be revitalized. It is a... Read more