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We Need Neuroethicists Present Before the Holy Shit Moments in Neuroscience

By Karen Rommelfanger

In a recent Vox article reporting on the Nature paper from Dr. Nenad Sestan’s lab at Yale University, “Restoration of brain circulation and cellular functions hours post-mortem," the title summarizes the encounter between the scientist and ethicist as follows, Scientists: We kept pig brains alive 10 hours after death. Bioethicists [upon reading the article]: “Holy shit.”
The reporting on the paper had numerous stories, some better than others, with attention-grabbing headlines, but mostly accurate depiction of the study and the ethical implications. To be clear, the findings were a “holy shit” moment for science not because radical life extension is now possible, but because Sestan’s work suggests exciting new possibilities for science and discovery in brain tissue that is unprecedented.
But what none of these stories captured was that the neuroethicists weren’t mere observers of the science upon its publication. Rather, they were present at early stages o…

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