What is human? Can the promise of great scientific discoveries be reconciled with traditional notions of God and ethics? Are we capable of using biotechnology to better the human condition? How can science, religion, and ethics be used to inform our decisions? What will an increasingly sophisticated understanding of genetics mean for health care or our understanding of free will?
Advances in 21st-century biomedicine raise these and other fundamental questions. Our answers will profoundly shape national policy, science, health care, and our notions of right and wrong. Stem cell research, cloning, nanotechnology, chimera creation, genetic medicine, and other initiatives give humans an unprecedented capacity to heal and influence our lives.
Now, for the first time, you can explore these important issues from three perspectives - scientific, theological, and ethical - through this unique 24-lecture series. Presented by Kevin T. FitzGerald, Catholic Priest, PhD in molecular genetics, PhD in bioethics, you will gain a level of multidisciplinary understanding held by remarkably few people. Whatever your view on or understanding of biomedical discoveries, you will profit from this course.
Beginning with the seemingly simple question "what is human?" Fr. FitzGerald investigates the implications of modern science. Several lectures are devoted to stem cells. What are they, where do they come from, and how are they used? Does it matter if a stem cell comes from an embryo versus bone marrow, the placenta, or skin? Examine the promise and dangers of stem cell research.
The world marveled at Dolly, the first cloned sheep, and now cloning is widespread. What is cloning, how is it done, and are humans being cloned now?
Nanotechnology has captured the world's imagination; tiny technologies one hundred thousandth the width of a human hair can fit into cells like small machines. How do they work? What can go wrong? What social justice issues arise regarding the availability of potentially powerful but costly individualized treatments?
Did you know that chimeras - "genetic blends of different animals that create new species" - are a reality? Can a part-human, part-animal chimera be created? Are they 'persons' in spiritual, ethical, or legal terms?
The study of genetics is rapidly advancing to map genetic codes of humans and animals with ever greater precision. How are genes changed and manipulated? What does this mean for our food supply and for future generations of humans?
Fr. FitzGerald examines each issue with sensitivity and perspective. Looking into the future, he gives you the tools you will need to determine which way is forward. If we gain more power over our biology, how can we use this power for good? Where are the limits? How can faith, ethics, and science come together to help us make the right choices?