Questions at the end of life

  • May 28, 2013
Questions at the end of life

Five Scholars will present their research in front of an audience including the Gates Cambridge Trustees this week.

Are doctors unnecessarily doing their patients harm when they resuscitate them?

End of life issues will form the basis of a talk by Gates Cambridge Scholar Liz Dzeng at a special Internal Symposium this week which spans subjects including genetic links to cancer, the historical roots of tension between China and India and widening access through internet learning.

In her talk, The Hippocratic Paradox: When is Resuscitating a Patient Doing Them Harm?, Dzeng [2007] will discuss how treatment decisions are influenced by many factors beyond medical pathology. Individual beliefs and values, family dynamics, economics, and culture play a role in these decisions, she says, and this is particularly true for end of life issues.  

PhD in Sociology candidate Dzeng, whose end of life research focused on comparisons between the UK and the US, says: “Physicians often struggle to balance the prioritisation between autonomy and acting in the best interests of the patient. Comparisons between the US and UK are especially fascinating since in the US, decisions to pursue a Do-Not-Resuscitate (DNR) order must be agreed upon with the patient or family. In the UK, CPR can be unilaterally withheld by the doctor if deemed medically appropriate.”

The presentation is one of five by Gates Cambridge Scholars which will be given on 30 May in front of Bill Gates Senior and the Gates Cambridge Trustees including the Vice Chancellor of the University of Cambridge, Professor Sir Leszek Borysiewicz.

Poetry

Alexandra Reider [2012], an MPhil candidate in Anglo-Saxon, Norse and Celtic, will talk about early medieval ‘wisdom poetry’ – a name modern scholars have given to a popular genre that attempts to order the world so as to make sense of it. It often uses lists to convey its ‘wisdom’. Reider will highlight interesting parts of the lists and talk about how they contribute to the larger works and the wisdom that they structure.

Timothy Kotin [2012], who is doing an MPhil in Engineering for Sustainable Development, will speak about E-Coach Solutions, a start-up he co-founded, which aims to harness the power of Information, Communication, Technology (ICT) and grow mobile connectivity to improve educational quality and access by addressing traditional barriers to access, empowering teachers to interact more effectively with students, and creating avenues for engagement with new audiences such as pupils in rural committees. The website has over 4000 registered users in Ghana’s capital Accra, where it began operations, and has ambitions to expand the service across several other countries as well. Kotin says: “Our goal is to reach millions of students across Africa within the decade. In this brief presentation, I will highlight a few innovative yet highly-scalable ideas through which E-Coach is pursuing its mission.”

In a presentation entitled Mirrors on the wall: Understanding China-India relations from below, Berenice Guyot-Rechard [2009] will look at Sino-Indian tensions, for instance, recent events when Chinese troops intruded into Ladakh in the Indian Himalayas,  — through an alternative lens which sees them as the symptom of a much deeper, structural antagonism between the two countries. Berenice, who is doing a PhD in History, says: “This antagonism stems from China and India’s persistent anxiety over having to exist side by side, when both of them are post-colonial entities attempting to build themselves into successful nation-states on their common Himalayan borderlands — a borderland whose inhabitants are not only very different from their core population, but retain a capacity to compare and choose between the two countries.”

Finally, Siddhartha Kar [2012], who is doing a PhD in Public Health and Primary Care, will talk about genes, network medicine and cancer. He says: “This April marked a decade since the completion of the Human Genome Project – a decade that has witnessed an astonishing decline in the cost of reading our genetic blueprint. We now have an unprecedented capacity to quickly and accurately scan markers across the entire genomes of tens of thousands of people to compare the DNA inherited by those with and without cancer.”

His talk will discuss his research, which uses tools from molecular biology and computer science. He says: “I seek to understand cancer not as a disease of linear changes in single genes, but as the perturbation of a network of genetic interactions of breathtaking complexity – a paradigm with profound implications for health in the community and in the clinic.”

The symposium runs from 11am-12 noon and takes place in the Gates Cambridge Scholars Room.

Picture credit: www.freedigitalphotos.net and Praisaeng.

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