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Syllabus for 2010
Focus: Synthetic Biology

Sunday, July 11 - University Square Residence Hall, corner of University Avenue and Central Avenue, Newark

5:00–6:30 PM - Registration and Check-In, University Square Residence Hall, multi-purpose room

6:30 - 9:00 PM: University Square Residence Hall multi-purpose room
Dr. Jeff Buechner (Institute Director; Department of Philosophy, Rutgers University–Newark)
Ms. Linda Hostelley (Vice President Merck Research Laboratories Compliance)
Pizza Supper.
Laura Cardona's documentary of the 2009 Rutgers-Merck Summer Bioethics Institute
Film: “Architects of Fear,” followed by a discussion of ethical issues in synthetic biology raised by the film.


Monday, July 12 - Hill Hall, Room 115

9:00–9:30 AM - Dr. Jeff Buechner (Institute Director; Philosophy, Rutgers University–Newark)
A short tour of synthetic biology and of some of the ethical, social, and cultural issues it raises.

9:30 - 10:30 AM - Dr. Jeff Buechner
Critical Thinking Workshop I.
Introduction to the fundamental tools for critically assessing arguments.

10:30 - Noon - Dr. Ken Richman (Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences)
Introduction to ethics and ethical reasoning with examples of ethical problems that arise in synthetic biology.

Noon–1:00PM - Lunch (Robeson 231)
1:00–2:00 PM - Dr. Miguel Cervantes-Cervantes (Federated Departments of Biology, Rutgers University-Newark and NJIT) The basic structure of DNA and RNA, how DNA replicates, the transcriptional process, the synthesis of proteins from amino acids at the ribosome, gene regulation, and epigenetic factors.

2:00–3:00 PM - Dr. David Perlman (University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing and Eclipse Educational Technologies)
Ethical Decision Making, using examples of ethical problems in synthetic biology to test various theories of decision making.

3:00–4:00 PM - Break-out groups: Students will be assigned to groups and will begin to consider and write about six different ethical issues arising in the context of synthetic biology that will form the basis for their final presentations on Saturday. Students will employ the tools of critical thinking from the critical thinking workshop and will be assisted by  Ms. Vonetta Hunter (who is a teacher at the Newark Essex technical High School), Ms. Melissa Harris (Newark Public High School System) and Ms. Kara Wilson (Rutgers University-Newark philosophy major)

4:00–5:00 PM - Dana Library - Electronic Classroom, Room 021 - Dr. Robert Nahory (Rutgers University-Newark). Ann Watkins (Rutgers University Libraries) Introduction to Information Literacy: using library resources for projects.

5:00–6:30 PM - Dinner (Robeson 231)

6:30-9:00 PM - Rutgers Law School, 123 Washington Street, Baker Court Room 125
Interning with law students to prepare for Thursday’s mock trial. Pizza party.


Tuesday, July 13 - Hill Hall, Room 115

9:00–10:00AM - Dr. Treena Arinzeh (Department of Biomedical Engineering, NJIT)
Dr. Arinzeh is a world famous biomedical engineer who has worked on scaffolding for stem cells. She will discuss her own work, and what the future holds for biomedical engineering.

10:00–Noon - Akoma Ntoso Cultural Center (www.oiadainti.org), 191 Central Avenue, Newark
Ms. Diane Hill, (Director, Office of Campus Affairs, Rutgers University—Newark) and Dr. Lorna K. Johnson (Director, Akoma Ntoso Cultural Center)
Teleconference with high-school and college students in Ghana on ethical and business issues in synthetic biology, especially the manufacture of anti-malarial drugs.

Noon–1:00 PM - Lunch (African food—of central Ghana—at the Akoma Ntoso Cultural Center)

Hill Hall, Room 115
1:00 PM–2:00 PM - Dr. Trip McCrossin (Department of Philosophy, Rutgers University–Newark) and Mr. Ralph Jenkins (Department of Philosophy, Rutgers-University-Newark)
The philosophical issues involving in defining personal identity and in defining human identity and how these are important in assessing whether uses of synthetic biology in human beings can transform us into an entirely new species. The metaphysics of identity conditions for objects.

2:00–3:00 PM - Mr. James Wooster (Robotics Engineer)
Standardization of computer software and hardware made the digital revolution possible. In synthetic biology standardization of cellular components is the goal of current research efforts—the payoff will be greater efficiency in synthesizing gene products and greater predictability.

3:00–4:00 PM -Dana Library - Electronic Classroom, Room 021 - Dr. Robert Nahory. Ann Watkins. Computer lab. Compile notes for the day and work on projects. Apply concepts in library searches.

4:00–5:00 PM - Rutgers Law School, 123 Washington Street, Robert N. Wilentz Appellate Courtroom 122
Interning with law students to prepare for Thursday’s mock trial.

5:00–8:30 PM - Dinner.
Dr. Karina Schaefer (Department of Biology, Rutgers University-Newark)
Dinner, film: “Outbreak,” and discussion. Dr. Schaefer is a well-known ecologist, who will talk about the dangers to the environment and to human beings of ignoring risks. Pizza party to follow the discussion.


Wednesday, July 14 - Hill Hall, Room 115

9:00–10:00 AM - Dr. George Collins (Department of Biomedical Engineering, NJIT)
Dr. Collins is an internationally known research scientist in biomedical engineering; he will discuss the relation between biology and engineering, focusing on important work he has done, and observing the ethical dimension of his work.

10:00–11:00 AM - Dr. Alex Rodriguez (Federated Department of Biological Sciences, Rutgers University-Newark and NJIT)
Dr. Rodriguez will provide a tour of his biology laboratory and will begin an experiment in molecular biology that will conclude on Friday morning. The experiment involves the transfection of E. coli so that it manifests bioluminescence in the form of a green color.

11:00–Noon - Mr. Wayne Gilman (formerly Director of News and Public Affairs for WLIB-AM and WBLS-FM)
Critical thinking workshop II: “The dumbing down of American media” How does media filter and doctor scientific and political information for the general public? How does this filtering affect how the general public understands science? Mr. Gilman will discuss his first-hand experiences in how the public mind is shaped and controlled by the media and relate this to biotechnology, especially synthetic biology.

Noon–1:00 PM - (Lunch Robeson 231)

1:00–2:00 PM - Hill Hall, Room 115
Mr. Dominic Sisti (University of Pennsylvaniua Bioethics Center)
How to use critical thinking tools to analyze case studies in bioethics. Mr. Sisti will discuss the Jesse Gelsinger case, and several other important cases in bioethics and provide connections to synthetic biology.

2:00–3:00 PM - Dana Room, John Cotton Dana Library
Dr. Anastasia Pease (Department of English, Union College)
Many aspects of synthetic biology have important literary, cultural and social dimensions, especially in science-fiction and in horror; Dr. Pease will provide an interactive discussion of this material in this teleconference seminar.

3:00–4:00 PM - Break-out groups. Students will work in groups on the ethical issues they will present on Saturday.

4:00–5:00 PM -Dana Library - Electronic Classroom, Room 021 - Dr. Robert Nahory (Rutgers University-Newark). Ann Watkins (Rutgers University Libraries) Students will compile notes for the day and work on their projects.

5:00–6:30 PM - Dinner (Robeson 231)

6:30–8:00 PM - Rutgers Law School, 123 Washington Street, Robert N. Wilentz Appellate Courtroom 122
Interning with law students to prepare for Thursday’s mock trial


Thursday, July 15 - Hill Hall, Room 115

9:00–10:00 AM - Ms April Grier (Department of Music and the Institute Of Jazz Studies, Rutgers University-Newark)
Ms Grier will talk about the evolution of different jazz styles, and their dynamic relationships with current hip-hop music. She will discuss the cultural, social, and political contexts in which jazz styles and hip-hop are situated

10:00–11:00 AM - Ms. Dana Bochna and Ms. Judy Young (Institute for Ethical Leadership, Rutgers Business School)
There are many ethical dilemmas that arise in the business world, and some of these dilemmas also arise in commercial applications of synthetic biology. Ms. Bochna and Ms. Young will introduce students to the dilemmas and discuss how they might be resolved. Studnens will use critical thinking tools from the critical thinking workshop to try to steer between the horns of the dilemmas.

11:00–Noon - Ms. Debbie Warner (Newark Public High School System)
Issues in biotechnology will occupy the public attention in the years to come. Public policy makers and leaders need to be able to teach the public about science. Ms. Warner will show students how to be teachers who teach science—how science is taught and how science is understood by the lay public.

Noon–1:00 PM - Lunch (Robeson 231)

1:00–3:30 PM - Rutgers Law School, 123 Washington Street, Baker Court Room 125
A mock trial concerning the following case. A new synthetic biology product, artemisinin (created by inserting three different kinds of genomic material into the bacteria E. coli) is used to treat malaria. The standard treatment using quinine is no longer effective, since the malaria parasite is now resistant to quinine. Amyris Biotechnologies manufactures the drug.
Artemisinin is also found in an herb that can be grown and harvested. A large farming company in rural Alabama grows and harvests the herb. It contends that Amyris has an unfair share of the market and sues Amyris under federal anti-trust laws.
Vice Provost Marcia Brown, Professor Alicia Guichard, Toni Kelich and several students at Rutgers Law School will help prepare students for, and conduct, the trial.

3:30–4:00 PM - Break-out groups. What do you think of the mock trial? What could have been done to improve the argument of the plaintiff? Of the accused?

4:00–5:00 PM  Dana Library - Electronic Classroom, Room 021 - Dr. Robert Nahory. Ann Watkins. Computer lab. Students compile notes of the day and work on their projects.

5:00–6:30 PM - Dinner (Robeson 231)

6:30–9:00 PM - Work-out with the men’s and women’s Rutgers-Newark basketball teams. Pizza party.


Friday, July 16 - Hill Hall, Room 115

9:00–10:00 AM -Dr. Barry Komisaruk (Board of Governors’ Professor of Psychology and Associate Dean of the Graduate School, Rutgers University–Newark).
Could insertion of bacterial factories into the human nervous system alter its basic structure? What would such alterations mean for the quality of one’s mental life? The lecture will include basic material on neuroanatomy and neurofunctioning.

10:00–11:00 AM - Dr. Alex Rodriguez (Department of Biology, Rutgers University-Newark) and Dr. Salenna Ghanny (Senior Research Associate, DNA Microarray Facility, Center for Applied Genomics, Public Health Research Institute and Institute of Genomic Medicine, UMDNJ-NJ Medical School at the International Center for Public Health)
Professor Rodriguez and Dr. Ghanny will show how a modern laboratory microscope is used in the study of cellular processes. Students will have a hands-on opportunity to carry out direct observations of cell activity using this microscope and will continue the experiment in which a genomic segment is inserted into the bacterium, E. coli.

11:00 - Noon - Dr. Eric Silverman (Christopher Newport University)
How to use the critical thinking tools students have learned in the past week in application to problems in how to live, how to reason about morality and values, what to do with one’s life and finding what is important and what is most valuable for one’s life plans.

Noon–1:00 PM - Lunch (Robeson 231)

1:00–1:30 PM - Ms. Frances Teabout (Rutgers University-Newark Pre-College Program) and Mr. Kevin Davis (Rutgers University-Newark Pre-College Program)
Ms. Teabout will talk about Rutgers University-Newark—the most ethnically diverse campus in the United States and its world-renowned programs in business, law, public administration, and the neurosciences. Mr. Davis will talk about enrichment opportunities (such as this very program)—how to find them and how to use them to maximum advantage

1:30–2:00 PM - Dr. Jeff Buechner (Institute Director; Philosophy, Rutgers University–Newark)
The infection game—a graphic demonstration of a simple fact: there are more than 30, 000 species of bacteria (trillions of bacteria in all) that live on the surface of one’s skin and most of which cannot be removed by even a thorough hand cleaning.

2:00–5:00 PM - Break-out groups.
Students will work in groups on the ethical issues they will present on Saturday

5:00 –6:30 PM - Dinner (Robeson 231)

6:30–10:00 PM - Students continue work on their projects for the Gala Dinner on Saturday.


Saturday, July 17 - Paul Robeson Campus Center, 350 Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd, Room 255-257

Gala Dinner for students of the Institute and their parents.
Introduction by Dr. Jeff Buechner (Institute Director; Philosophy, Rutgers University–Newark)
Jacqueline E. Brevard  (Vice President Chief Ethics Officer, Merck & Co., Inc.) will discuss Merck’s role in the Merck-Rutgers Summer Bioethics Institute.
Alex Plinio (Director of the Institute for Ethical Leadership, Rutgers Business School, and Professor of Business, Rutgers Business School) will discuss the partnership between the Department of Philosophy and the Institute for Ethical Leadership at Rutgers, and Merck Pharmaceuticals.
Student groups will present their ethics projects.
Award ceremony and farewell: Closing Address by Mr. Kamaal Bennett (Executive Director, New Jersey Educational Consortium)l.

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