The deVeber Institute for Bioethics and Social Research conducts and disseminates research on topics connected to human life in its biological, social and ethical dimensions. These topics are selected for study depending on emerging medical, technological and social developments. In undertaking this work the Institute believes that a sense of the inherent value and dignity of human life and of the human person as an end and not a means is a foundational perspective to bring to bear on its work.

The Institute's research may be original or may consist of reviews of existing literature. In each case the Institute's work is to be of the highest academic quality, though accessible to the general public.

From the Director's Desk

Don't spread false hope about stem cell research

Paul Ranalli, in the National Post, Tuesday April 21, 2009, wrote:

The hype generated around embryonic stem cells continues to grow out of control, judging by the National Post's front-page placement of the announcement of new British research study on age-related macular degeneration (AMD). Perhaps to counter the ethical darkness in using cells from aborted fetuses, the fawning publicity supporting embryonic stem cells has always far exceeded the reality.

In fact, there are exactly zero successful human treatments using embryonic cells. Despite the "huge step forward" headline, this news item is no exception. It merely announces that the multinational drug giant Pfizer has agreed to finance research trials which might lead to a human application "within seven years." Normally this would be covered in a one-paragraph item tucked back in the first section. Instead, the above-the-fold splash is sure to excite thousands of Canadian patients who might reasonably conclude that the Post would not make such a placement unless real patients had achieved real success. While one does not wish to dim anyone's hope, especially in this age of Obama, it must be tempered by reality. There are many, many hoops to go through, not least of which is the great difficulty in translating animal research on vision to a human therapy, especially one involving so delicate and precise a function as central vision.

Barbara Farlow in the CMAJ

Barbara Farlow, Advisor to the deVeber Institute, is featured in the Canadian Medical Association Journal (CMAJ) article:

Prenatal DNA test raises both hopes and worries

"I feel that the genetic testing ultimately determined her fate," says Farlow, who lives in Mississauga, Ontario. "She was treated as a syndrome. She wasn't treated as a child."

Read the complete article

Profile: Keith Cassidy, PhD

On Validity in Research

Keith Cassidy, a professor of history at the University of Guelph in Ontario, Canada, and board member of the deVeber Institute, had this to say about research on life issues:

“The life issues which have in large measure engaged the attention of the deVeber Institute – abortion and euthanasia – have a particular fascination for an historian. Proponents of abortion rights have stressed the evolution of both religious and secular law’s treatment of abortion and argued that there is no warrant for asserting that there is an unvarying “pro-life” tradition in Western culture. Indeed the pro-choice account of the historical record played an important role in the U.S. Supreme Court’s justification for its decision in Roe v. Wade.

How accurate is that account? Recent scholarship throws it into very serious question. Thus Joseph Dellapenna’s monumental (1283 pages) study, Dispelling the Myths of Abortion History, (2006) demonstrates that the protection of fetal life was in fact a concern of law from the earliest period, and that much of the historical writing relied upon by the Supreme Court is erroneous. As he puts it “the prohibition of abortion was always viewed as the protection of emerging, yet real, human life.”

Is the 'Abortion & VERY Preterm Birth Risk' Real?

If a woman has a surgical abortion, does she increase her future risk of a premature delivery or, more importantly, does she boost her later odds of a very preterm birth (under 33 weeks' gestation)?  Preterm newborn children have a higher risk of the 'MACE' disorders (Mental retardation, Autism, Cerebral palsy, Epilepsy) and other risks (blindness, deafness, lung injury, 'gut' problems, serious infections, etc.).

The average doctor can not be expected to keep track of the over 130 published studies of the abortion-preemie risk, but he/she can read abortion-preemie extensive review studies.  In the 21st century there have been three such studies.