Focusing on the Future of Medicine

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December 10 Student Medical Ethics Society Event Delves Into Risks and Rewards of New Medical Technology

Yeshiva University’s Student Medical Ethics Society (MES) will present its 11th annual conference on Sunday, December 10. This year’s event, titled “Breaking Down the Firewall: A Jewish Perspective to Future Technologies in Medicine,” will take place from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on the Wilf Campus in Furst Hall, Room 501 at 500 West 185th Street, New York City.

Discussions at the conference will wrestle with the social and ethical implications of technologies capable of re-designing human life. Speakers include Rabbi Dr. Edward Reichman, professor of emergency medicine and professor in the division of education and bioethics at YU-affiliated Albert Einstein College of Medicine; Rabbi Dr. J. David Bleich, professor of Talmud and Rosh Yeshiva at YU-affiliated Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary (RIETS); Dr. Edward Burns, executive dean of Einstein; Dr. Ana Maria Cuervo, professor at Einstein; Rabbi Ozer Glickman, rosh yeshiva at RIETS; Dr. Matthew Liao, director of the Center for Bioethics and affiliated professor in the Department of Philosophy at New York University; and Dr. Neville Sanjana, core faculty members at the New York Genome Center and assistant professor in the departments of biology, neuroscience, and physiology at NYU.

The conference is sponsored by the Community Synagogue of Monsey in honor of Rabbi Dr. Moshe D. Tendler, the Rabbi Isaac and Bella Tendler Professor of Jewish Medical Ethics at Yeshiva University as well as the rav of the Community Synagogue of Monsey. He is the leading expert on medical ethics as it pertains to Jewish law and the author of Practical Medical Halakhah, a textbook of Jewish responsa to medical issues, and Pardes Rimonim, a book about the halachot of taharat mishpacha [family purity].

The program was developed with input from a board of 20 Yeshiva College and Stern College for Women students with guidance from Rabbi Yaakov Glasser, The David Mitzner Dean of Yeshiva University’s Center for the Jewish Future (CJF); Rabbis Menachem Lewin and Aryeh Czarka of the CJF; Paul Glasser, associate vice president, Institutional Advancement at YU; and Rabbi Dr. Reichman, who mentors the MES program.

The conference will focus on how technologies like CRISPR gene editing and neuro-artificial intelligence programming have changed the conversation about medical ethics. “We chose the word ‘firewall’ deliberately,” said Elisheva Nemetz, co-president of MES. “A firewall is a part of a computer network designed to block unauthorized access. For us, the firewall is a metaphor for the stigma and ignorance around recent technologies and by breaking down the firewall we can approach these groundbreaking and earth-shattering technologies with informed scientific and Jewish perspectives.”

“This is my fourth year on the Medical Ethics Society,” continued Nemetz, “so I have had a chance to see the impact that MES has had on the student body and the greater Jewish community at large. MES is a clear example of Torah Umadda, allowing us to combine the intricacies and importance of science and medicine in congruence with Torah and Jewish values.”

MES co-president Gav Sturm said that the Society gives him the chance to “share my passion for science and philosophy with my fellow students as we work together to bring some of the most important topics, speakers, and conversations around ethics and medicine to the student body.” He added that “this year’s conference topic resonates with me personally because it touches on the work I am doing as a part-time research assistant studying human aging. Artificial intelligence, genetic engineering, anti-aging therapies—these fascinate me, and I am overjoyed to be able to bring them to the larger community with the MES team.”

For more information and to register, visit http://yumedicalethics.com/conference-2017/.

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