It’s all about the blastoids

We have an organ shortage.

People are desperate for organs, but there is no easy way to make more. It would be awesome if we could use a summoning charm (accio membrum?) to create and distribute kidneys and livers, but unless we radically change our approach — or create human organs that we can harvest from animals — we’re shit out of luck.

Last month, a new milestone in attempts to advance medical treatment of humans by using animals, in this case a monkey, kicked off a barrage of commentary from ethicists and scientists. …

Yes, I started a Substack newsletter.

The weekly email covers issues around assisted reproduction, the pharmaceutical industrial complex, emerging biotechnologies, and everything in between! If you’ve been following for a while, you know my work sits that weird place where policy, academic scholarship, and journalism collide, and that’s what you’ll mostly hear about from me.

I started an email newsletter because I’d like to grow a respectful community where we can talk and write about the future of biotech in a fun and productive way. I’m asking for just $5 a month from subscribers.

Mostly you should subscribe if you…

When the End of Life Option Act went into effect in California in 2016, then-Gov. Jerry Brown commented that he felt the state shouldn’t deny anyone seeking a dignified death.

The pandemic has forced too many American families to consider what this means for their loved ones’ own contexts, as the virus ravages the bodies of a third of the country’s assisted living population, murderously left unchecked by a void in leadership at all levels, including in Orange County, Calif. …

An outdated law puts a 10-year storage limit on eggs that women froze to preserve their fertility

Credit: Mark Garlick/Science Photo Library/Getty Images

At first glance, Sharon Jones doesn’t seem like your everyday political activist.

The 34-year-old’s social media accounts depict the average life of an urban, Western woman: cocktails, sunsets, inspirational quotes, and weddings. She chatters animatedly in a Liverpool accent, sometimes referring to herself as “Shazza,” recounting stories about her life, her many sisters, and her search for a boyfriend.

But Jones’ quest to preserve her fertility has turned her into one of the loudest voices in a growing reproductive rights movement affecting thousands of British women. …

Illustrations: Seth Thompson

Inside the Transhumanist primaries, where the far-left and the far-right can only agree on one thing: living forever

Johannon Ben Zion joined the first debate wearing a gray tweed suit and an unfashionably wide tie. His shaggy brown hair and muttonchop sideburns curled out from underneath his large black headphones. The first official gathering of the three Transhumanist presidential candidates was to take place via Google Hangout, modered by Gennady Stolyarov II, a 32-year-old Belorussian actuary and the chairman of the U.S. Transhumanist Party, from his home office in Nevada. He greeted the candidates while framed by a collection of gold-plated plastic trophies, which dated back to childhood and represented wins in debate, speech, and math tournaments.



Beyond the reach of U.S. law, doctors are changing the way babies are made

Illustrations by Maria Chimishkyan

It’s 10:30 p.m. in Kyiv, Ukraine, and Dr. Valery Zukin is at the hospital with a patient who needs emergency surgery. The patient is 31 weeks pregnant and has intestinal obstruction — a rare complication that’s potentially fatal in pregnant women. Zukin says the situation is under control, but he’s exhausted, and the stakes are high.

Earlier that day, Zukin had been at a fertility conference in Barcelona, where his groundbreaking fertility treatments made him and his colleagues the stars of the show. Now he’s sitting in a pale-yellow room at the Leleka Maternity Hospital, where he is CEO. …

Future Human

A diatribe on the folly and privilege of the Transhumanist movement

Illustrations: Matt Huynh

The Transhumanist movement is made up of people of various political leanings. There are those who skew left-of-center, those with a more libertarian mindset, and there are even some who are archly conservative. But they all share a belief that science and technology can be wielded to cheat death. And they’re all completely tone deaf.

I first came to Transhumanism in my work as a journalist. In my career, which has spanned a decade of reporting and editorial writing on the intersection of human rights, policy, and science, nothing has raised my hackles as much as this movement’s quest for…

Well, moving has been hellish.

I’m now at the end of the second week of this process, and no closer to feeling “moved.” We are very much still in the thick of it, surrounded by unfamiliar things, in an unfamiliar house, in an unfamiliar neighborhood. And I’m not loving it.

I haven’t been able to do much cooking, obviously, and I knew that the last week we spent in the house in London wouldn’t lend itself to a lot of culinary flexibility. …

Banana bread muffins sans zucchini

This is getting really difficult to keep up with, especially as moving gets closer, and traveling back and forth with a baby across many time zones eats up two days on either end of the trip.

We spent the past eight days at a friend’s house on the South Shore of Massachusetts (thanks again, Selvaggis!), so there was no cooking from our own recipe books, despite the fact that we received a lovely copy of “The Elephant Walk” restaurant cookbook from our new landlord on our last day in town.

The week before that I have no excuse for, except…

All the fresh, local ingredients

We are moving to Boston in less than a month.

This is at once scary, exciting, relieving, sad, and stressful. I will miss Islington so much, if not London entirely.

As far as I’m concerned, our little corner of the north, and most specifically N1, is the best neighborhood of London’s many mini villages. It has been appropriately described by a Guardian columnist as “the spiritual home of Britain’s left wing intelligentsia” and as one Buzzfeed listicle put it simply, in North London, “Here be newspaper columnists.” Hey, how ya doin?

I have barely left Islington since Rowan was born…

Alex Pearlman

Reporter. Bioethicist. Publishing on the intersection of ethics and policy with emerging science and tech. Sorry for the recipes if you’re here for news.

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