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Yale Bioethics


Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a source of clinical and theoretical concern in military personnel, victims of child abuse, rape, and disasters as well as in certain aspects of health professionals’ training and practice. The Center began work on some of the ethics issues in research and clinical treatment for PTSD and was led to a wider set of related issues touching on research aimed at identifying biomarkers of resilience that can be useful in screening, early detection, diagnosis, and treatment of various mood and stress disorders, as well as the potential for pharmacological interventions to blunt the impact of traumatic memories. The topic is timely; it is paradigmatic of issues in the field of neuroscience research and the translation of medical research from the laboratory to the bedside.

The Center’s goal is to create a written report and produce a collection of essays about the moral and social issues raised by research on and treatment of PTSD and related clinical problems. To this end we have convened a small working group to meet a total of five times. At each meeting, two or three members of the group present draft papers and at the end of the work period, we will publish a report on the overall project and a collection of the essays received. Participants include Deane Aikins, Steven Berkowitz, Susan Lederer, Eric Parens, and Barry Schaller. The Center is just over half way through the 30 month process and the working group has met three times, presenting drafts of their work.  The fourth meeting will take place on November 16th, after which the writing period will begin in earnest, and at the fifth and final meeting the results will be presented to peer reviewers. The Center is excited about the level of work produced thus far by the participants.

This project is generously supported by the Patrick and Catherine Weldon Donaghue Medical Research Foundation.