International symposium brings insight on healthcare access to Kenan

Experts from across research and industry fields within healthcare gathered May 22 at the Kenan Institute for Ethics for a special symposium, “Access to Medicines: Policy and Practice.”

Vishy Pingali, Kenan’s 2016-2017 George C. Lamb, Jr. Regulatory Fellow, presents during the “Access to Medicines” symposium.

Hosted by Kenan’s Rethinking Regulation program, about 25 scholars and entrepreneurs took part in discussing topics that addressed the role governments, nonprofits and private entities can play to ensure more people have the ability to care for illnesses – especially due to rising prices and lack of access in developing economies.

Conversation was built around results from the United Nations High Commission’s Special Panel on Access to Medicines, which found that countries must find new approaches to health technology and ensuring access so that all people can benefit from medical advancements.

The event was spearheaded by Kenan’s 2016-17 Lamb Regulatory Fellow, Vishy Pingali,and Julia Barnes-Weise, Executive Director of Global Healthcare Innovation Alliance Accelerator. Experts in attendance work in fields ranging from international intellectual property to public-private global health partnerships and ethics.

Deborah Drew, CEO of Drew Quality Group, Inc. talks about the non-profit organization that is looking to provide generic drugs.

According to Pingali, the group found three main issues emerged as a goal for our future work after hearing from economists, legal scholars, public policy experts and practitioners in medicine. Pingali, who presented research on how government regulation can increase access to medicines, was among a dozen speakers who offered insight on topics that ranged from intellectual property and innovation to policy.

“We need to develop business models for better incentivizing parties to make medicines more affordable and create new paradigms to consider healthcare holistically to answer bigger questions around affordable healthcare and pharmaceuticals,” he said. “We need to have robust public policy frameworks for policy making in this space.”

Kenan-supported project investigates auto repair health hazards in Ghana

Used motor oil gets dumped into the ground in large quantities every year in Ghana. Photo courtesy of Bass Connections.

Studying the environmental and societal impacts of the disposal of motor oil in Ghana was at the center of a recently completed project supported by the Silver Family Kenan Institute for Ethics Fund in Support of Bass Connections.

The effort, which was led by faculty from Duke’s Pratt School of Engineering, School of Medicine and Kenan Institute, included six undergraduate and graduate students, as well as two community team members from the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology in Ghana.

During work abroad and on campus, students analyzed the health and wellness of Ghanaians who may be impacted by exposure to chemicals that include lead, chromium, iron and manganese. The results will provide a basis for an education and awareness campaign in Ghana to prevent health risks and ecosystem damage.

Learn more about the project and meet team members in a video on the Bass Connections website.

Apply for new Human Rights Faculty Fellows program

Kenan is now soliciting proposals for two new, year-long faculty fellow positions within the Duke Human Rights Center at the Kenan Institute for Ethics.

Two-page proposals should detail a new research project the fellow plans to pursue over the coming year. Proposals should also provide a timeline of activity, expected year end outcomes and a budget.

Faculty fellows will receive $7,500 each. Funds can be used for research expenses, to support research assistants, or for summer salary or course buyout. Fellows must be in residence throughout the academic year, are expected to participate in DHRC@KIE events and, where appropriate, provide intellectual leadership for the Center. Work may be collaborative or independent.

Preference is for fellows whose research focuses on international institutions, business and human rights, women’s rights or forced migration.

Proposals can be sent to kie@duke.edu and are due at noon May 8. Awards will be announced by May 12.

One-of-a-kind field research culminates seniors’ four years with Kenan

“What in the world are we doing here?”

Lily Doron remembers thinking those words after a near 15-hour travel day in July 2016 after she and classmate Olivia Johnson arrived in Athens, Greece. The Duke undergraduates were about to start a six-week project to travel the Balkan route, interacting with refugees in transit along a 1,500-mile trip that stretches across a collection of European countries.

Olivia Johnson, left, and Lily Doron, right, at the gallery opening of their “Seeking Refuge” capstone exhibit, on display in the Keohane-Kenan Gallery.

The answer was straight forward, but the reality of how the pair got to that starting point was still a bit incredible to them. With support from the Kenan Institute for Ethics to make the journey happen, the two then-rising seniors were about to begin a life-changing academic experience.

“We wanted to better understand the dehumanization of these people,” Doron said. “How does a person turn into a number?”

To find out, Doron and Johnson interviewed about 20 people in six countries during their trip, stopping between Greece and Germany to meet refugees from Mali, Afghanistan, Iraq and more. As one of their defining experiences at Duke, the time spent abroad acted as a source of inspiration for a senior capstone project, an audio-visual exhibit displayed in the Keohane-Kenan Gallery in West Duke. The project includes several recorded interviews and written stories of refugees like Amir, an Afghan translator who worked for the U.S. Army, but was denied a Special Immigration Visa to move to America. He fled his home country after being kidnapped and freed by the Taliban.

Both Doron and Johnson were inspired by participating in Kenan programs that focused on educating about migration and displaced people, including DukeImmerse, Focus and Bass Connections. Doron incorporated ethics classes into a personalized major that included documentary studies, while Johnson earned an Ethics Certificate. Both said Kenan faculty and staff – notably director Suzanne Shanahan – shaped their interests and they saw the opportunity for field research as a chance to put learning to practice.

“Everything felt connected,” Johnson said. “Our project felt like a culmination of all our work.”

A refugee walks back to Moria, a closed refugee camp on Lesvos. The image was one of many captured as part of the “Seeking Refuge” exhibit.

“Seeking Refuge: Stories of Resilience Along the Balkan Route” debuted in April, bringing to campus the voices and experiences from Doron and Johnson’s 2016 trip. The people they met during their research varied from connections made through local NGOs and random encounters while visiting cities in Serbia, Hungary, Macedonia and more.

“The community that we’ve fit into at Kenan has helped us personally and academically,” Doron said. “Developing trust and mutual respect to do this kind of senior project is a testament to how much time we spent at Kenan.”

Johnson said she felt the same way.

“The most incredible opportunities I’ve had at Duke have been at Kenan, whether here or abroad,” she said. “We were learning so much, but if we didn’t have Kenan’s support, we would have never been able to make this kind of project happen.”

Kenan program connects students and refugees, gives senior new perspective

Michelle Khalid began volunteering with the Supporting Women’s Action program her first year at Duke and has remained a part during her four-year career, co-directing the program her junior and senior years.

Among all the lessons Michelle Khalid has learned during her time at Duke, one of the most important came from outside the classroom.

“Conversations have value,” said Khalid, a graduating senior.

Since first expanding her world view as a freshmen doing field research with refugees as part of a Kenan Institute for Ethics’ DukeImmerse program in Nepal and Jordan, Khalid has found personal and global perspective through the simple act of one-on-one interaction. Music, food and chatting – sometimes only through hand gestures and laughter – have created life-altering friendships through Kenan’s Supporting Women’s Action (SuWA) program, a program that empowers local refugee women through education, small business development, and community building.

“Sitting next to a random stranger who might not speak the same language was terrifying, but doing SuWA showed I don’t need a buffer,” Khalid said. “I don’t think I would have gotten as much out of Duke if I didn’t have SuWA.”

Khalid volunteered with the program her freshman and sophomore years, spurred on by interactions with refugees abroad through DukeImmerse and Bass Connections. She’s acted as co-director the past two years, organizing activities and building relationships with herself, other Duke students and almost 40 local refugees from Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq, Sudan and more. The group celebrates holidays from across the world, shares food from different cultures and even uses music videos as a form of cultural exchange, all with the purpose of making global ideas and issues feel more tangible. Khalid said her involvement with the program, which has more than doubled in size since she became co-director, has helped create unique opportunities on campus where undergraduates gain perspective not readily available elsewhere. Connecting the Duke and refugee communities through Kenan moves an education beyond the classroom.

“I’ve found it’s a really unique way to have a positive impact on a community I spent so much time learning about,” Khalid said.

After graduation, Khalid plans to work with Venture for America, a fellowship program that connects recent graduates with companies in cities trying to build startup cultures outside of obvious spots like New York or Silicon Valley. She hopes to live and work in Detroit or Philadelphia, utilizing skills honed through Kenan.

“SuWA showed me how to put myself out there, start a conversation and see where it takes you,” she said. “I’ve seen how important building relationships and understanding can be through SuWA.”

Kenan launches new student-run podcast, Audible Ethics

The Kenan Institute for Ethics has now made it easier to explore complex ethical questions wherever you go.

In coordination with Team Kenan, the Institute has launched a new podcast, Audible Ethics. Hosted by Duke sophomore David Wohlever Sánchez, episodes will explore areas of science, politics, psychology and more, with help of scholars and thought leaders at Duke and beyond. The podcast is available now through iTunes.

In its first episode, Audible Ethics chats with Walter Sinnott-Armstrong, the Chauncey Stillman Professor in Practical Ethics in the Department of Philosophy and the Kenan Institute for Ethics, to talk about the future of artificial intelligence. Upcoming conversations include David Toole, a Senior Fellow with the Kenan Institute for Ethics and Senior Research Fellow at Duke Divinity School and Arts & Sciences, and Barry Lam, a Humanities-Writ Large Fellow visiting with Kenan as part of work with Sinnott-Armstrong.

In a recent recording, Wohlever Sánchez spoke with John Hood and Leslie Winner, two North Carolina political leaders visiting campus as Kenan Practitioners-in-Residence.

Get a behind-the-scenes look at Audible Ethics with Wohlever Sánchez in the video below and subscribe to the podcast here.