Ben Shepard
Ben Shepard

Science & Society News

Learn what is happening inside the Duke Initiative for Science & Society. Stay up-to-date on our research, events, and student activities.

Wed, Nov 22

4 ways Tesla’s electric truck announcement could change our roads

SciPol lead editor and senior research scientists with Duke Robotics, Dr. Michael Clamann, weighs in on Tesla’s reveal of their new electric semi-truck. How will this technology change the truck driving industry and are there regulatory and security concerns that need to be addressed?

Read the Full Article

Fri, Nov 17

Book Review: A History of Humanity Told Through Genetics

A BRIEF HISTORY OF EVERYONE WHO EVER LIVED: The Human Story Retold Through Our Genes, By Adam Rutherford.
Review by Dr. Misha Angrist.

A recent and, even by its own lofty standards, especially hilarious and cringingly tasteless episode of “South Park” features the passionate and petulant schlimazel, middle-aged dad Randy Marsh, watching TV, when a commercial for a fictional consumer genetics company comes on the screen. “Wouldn’t you like to know the story of you?” the unctuous announcer asks. “What makes you you?” We then see a parade of white people doing entitled white people things — biking, painting, jogging — as they give testimonials about their DNA test results. All are thrilled to find out that their genomes have revealed them to be not just plain vanilla boring Caucasians, but rather to have some fraction of exotic — and more important, persecuted — ancestry. “I’m 21-percent victim!” exclaims one satisfied customer.

Thu, Nov 09

An Interview with Bob Lefkowitz, Five Years After His Nobel

In order to succeed, you need to be able to tell a good story.

Five years after sharing the 2012 Nobel Prize in Chemistry with his former student, Stanford’s Brian Kobilka, Robert Lefkowitz of the Duke University Medical Center continues lab work. At age 75, he’s still building on the groundbreaking discoveries that reveal the functions of G protein-coupled receptors which drive the effects of half of all medications. He also contemplates issues as timeless and conventional as the importance of mentors and as topical and controversial as the danger of the anti-science attitudes of the current presidential administration. At the fifth anniversary of his becoming a Nobel laureate, Lefkowitz sat with Emilia Chiscop-Head, an internationally awarded journalist now working at Duke University Initiative for Science & Society, for a wide-ranging discussion.

Read the full interview on Duke Today.

Mon, Oct 23

Health Policy Career Advice from the Private Sector

Duke alum Andrew Barnhill returned to campus to discuss his career path and current responsibilities as the Director of Federal Policy for GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), a multinational pharmaceutical and consumer healthcare giant whose drug portfolio includes Advair and Flovent.

At GSK, Barnhill provides healthcare policy thought leadership and strategy to advance business processes. His tasks change from day-to-day but may begin with conversations with public officials discussing a particular piece of legislation that may alter the company’s business processes. Barnhill then translates his discussion internally to his team at GSK, who must craft a plan of action in response to the legislation. Soon after, the company releases its stance on the policy issue to officials on Capitol Hill.

Though Barnhill’s education and work experiences are diverse in scope–he holds a JD, an MA of Divinity, and a BA in Political Science and Rhetoric–he attributes much of his success to his time spent on Capitol Hill as a congressional staffer. He offered advice on starting a career path in health policy, recommending experiences working with legislators as first steps. Barnhill suggested entry-level policy analyst roles for Master’s students interested in careers at the intersection of science and policy. Specifically, in the pharmaceutical industry, a policy analyst identifies implications of legislative policy and projects outcomes affecting business processes. Barnhill also advised students interested in medical careers to consider work in medical affairs policy after some time practicing in the field of medicine.

Regardless of what career path a person chooses, “[work in the] private sector has to push the boundaries of government,” said Barnhill, as he described healthcare as “fundamentally human” and “imperfect”. His discussion was informative and provided insight into the private sector, and characterized his work in the pharmaceutical industry as challenged with the need to balance the interests of patients, an individual company, and the industry at large.


Chelsey Pitts

Chelsey PittsChelsey is a student in the Duke Bioethics & Science Policy Graduate Program. She is interested in studying bioethics and healthcare policy as it relates to healthcare disparities in gender, religious and ethnic minority communities, and socio-economically disadvantaged areas.

Sun, Oct 08

Will assisted suicide always provide a quick and gentle death?

Sean Riley, MA Bioethics & Science Policy ’16 and end-of-life researcher, reviews the patchy record of the drugs used in executions and physician-assisted suicide.

Read Article Summary | Link To Full Paper

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