The Risks And Rewards Of New Medical Technology

The Risks And Rewards Of New Medical Technology

Yeshiva University Medical Ethics Society will hold its 11th annual conference on “Breaking Down the Firewall: A Jewish Perspective to Future Technologies in Medicine.”

On Sunday, December 10, the Medical Ethics Society (MES) will hold its 11th annual conference, “Breaking Down the Firewall: A Jewish Perspective to Future Technologies in Medicine.” Seven speakers – Rabbi Dr. Edward Reichman, MD; Rabbi Dr. J. David Bleich, PhD; Dr. Edward Burns, MD; Dr. Ana Maria Cuervo, MD, PhD; Rabbi Ozer Glickman; Dr. Matthew Liao, PhD; and Dr. Neville Sanjana, PhD – will wrestle with the social and ethical implications of technologies capable of re-designing human life.

The conference is sponsored by the Community Synagogue of Monsey in honor of Rabbi Moshe D. Tendler shlita. Rabbi Tendler is the Rabbi Isaac and Bella Tendler Chair in 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; the author of Practical Medical Halakhah, a textbook of Jewish responsa to medical issues; and Pardes Rimonim, a book about the halachos of Taharas HaMishpachah (the laws of Jewish Family Purity).

Elisheva Nemetz and Gav Sturm, co-presidents of the MES, described how the planning for the conference began in May and involved a board of 20 Yeshiva College and Stern College for Women students along with mentorship and guidance from Rabbi Yaakov Glasser, Rabbi Menachem Lewin, and Rabbi Aryeh Czarka at the Center for the Jewish Future; Paul Glasser of Institutional Advancement; and Rabbi Dr. Edward Reichman, a professor in the Division of Education and Bioethics at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine and the MES’ official mentor.

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 Nemetz. “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 that 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.”

For Sturm, who joined MES two years ago, 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.”

“Breaking Down the Firewall” will take place on Sunday, December 10, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Wilf Campus, Furst Hall Room 501, at 500 West 185th Street, New York, NY. For more information and to register, please visit yumedicalethics.com/conference-2017.

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