Category Archives: IJHS 3 (1)

IJHS volume 3, issue 1

Role of estrogen receptors in male reproductive physiology

Authors: Richard R. LEE & Karen PHILLIPS


Canonical estrogen receptors (ER α/β) have a genomic mechanism of action, functioning as nuclear transcription factors for estrogen-dependent genes.  Estrogen receptors are well established within the male reproductive tract with estrogen playing an essential role for male fertility.

The recent characterization of novel G-protein coupled estrogen receptor GPR30 (alternatively known as GPER1), depending on non-genomic intracellular signaling pathways to transduce estrogenic signals, requires a re-examination of the roles of estrogen receptors in male reproduction.  Further, the affinity of environmental estrogens (xenoestrogens) for estrogen receptor subtypes may provide additional understanding of the reproductive effects of these chemicals on male fertility.

Here we review the structure and functions of each estrogen receptor within the context of male reproduction, with special consideration of the reproductive implications of xenoestrogen exposure.

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The ethics of pre-implantation genetic diagnosis: An opinion piece examining the moral distinction between positive and negative selection of traits using PGD

Author: Helena BLEEKER


Pre-implantation genetic diagnosis (PGD) follows in vitro fertilization (IVF) of several ova. Negative selection (NS), or the discarding of embryos containing undesirable alleles, is currently being performed in IVF clinics. Conversely, positive selection (PS) is the discarding of embryos that do not contain a desirable allele. In other words, PS keeps an embryo because it contains a desirable genetic profile.

There are many groups that support NS but there are far fewer who support PS. The bioconservative philosophy, led by philosophers such as Leon Kass, opposes PS and bioliberalism in general. Conversely, NS (and PS) of embryos resonates best of all with the bioliberalism philosophy. More specifically, a subset of bioliberalism, called transhumanism.

In order to find NS morally permissible and PS morally unacceptable, one must support one’s position by making a moral distinction between the two types of selection. The major claims against PS include that it is not medically serious, that it propagates eugenics, that it propagates sex selection and that it elicits a moral repugnance which proves its immorality. In analyzing these arguments, I hope to show that none of them are consistent in their application, and that their inability to be applied universally significantly weakens their case.

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Commentary: Obamacare and American National Identity

Author: Raywat DEONANDAN

On March 23, 2010, US President Barack Obama signed into law the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) (United States of America, 2010), commonly called “Obamacare.”  Representing the most significant revision of the American health care system in over four decades, PPACA is aimed primarily at decreasing the number of uninsured Americans and reducing the overall out-of-pocket costs of individual health care.

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Access to maternal health care for native Canadians on reserves in Northern Canada

Author: David M. Beking


The history of abuse and isolation of Native Canadian populations has created a gap in maternal health care, resulting in infant mortality rates (IMRs) of 12 per 1000 births for on-reserve populations compared to 5.8 per 1000 births for the general Canadian population. This discrepancy is deemed a population health issue, as Native Canadian people constitute roughly 3% of the Canadian population, but have infant mortality rates similar to other third world countries. Currently, there are multiple government and non-government organizations in charge of providing maternal health care for on-reserve populations. A lack of a unified communication system linking these organizations creates a gap in the delivery of services and compromises the prenatal care in Native Canadians. The current method of caring for high risk pregnancies on Northern Canadian reserves is to fly the mothers out of their home community to a hospital that is both far away from their families and completely foreign to them. This practice contrasts with the cultural norms of the Native Canadian population, where expecting women receive antenatal care from elder women within their community. New models of care, in which midwives are the primary providers of antenatal care within a given community, have recently been implemented in Northern Quebec and other isolated areas of Canada. The midwives work with women elders of the community to provide a full system of maternal care. These new models show great promise in improving our current system of maternal health care for Native Canadians by providing more efficient and accessible antenatal care while also incorporating cultural norms of the communities.

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Under-reporting of adverse drug reactions: the need for an automated reporting system

Author: Benjamin R. Pearson


Although upwards of 32,000 adverse drug reactions are reported to Health Canada annually, this represents only approximately 5% of cases experienced by Canadians every year. This gross display of underreporting not only results in unrepresentative data in regards to adverse drug reactions, but further discredits databases used by healthcare professionals and in turn compromises the health and safety of Canadians. Major causes of underreporting seen in the literature are ignorance, diffidence and lethargy displayed by healthcare professionals. While Health Canada relies on these professionals to voluntarily report adverse drug reactions, the potential exists for an automated reporting system to remove causes of underreporting. Through integrating such a system with current health informatics technologies such as the electronic health record and utilizing existing health system communication technologies, healthcare professionals will be provided with representative data of adverse drug reactions in Canada and in turn be able to better serve their patients.

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Transnational trafficking of hazardous waste from developed to developing nations: policies and recommendations

Author: Melissa A. MACLEOD


Transnational trafficking of e-waste has become a rising problem over time as the amount of waste produced in developed countries increases. Over time, the focus has moved from traditional industrial waste disposal to e-waste disposal. This acceptance of hazardous waste often leads to adverse health effects in the importing nation. As a case study, the history, consequences, current policies, and recommendations for hazardous waste trafficking are considered in the context of West Africa. Following the analysis, it is clear that despite strong policies on the importers part, there are confounding factors, such as economic expansion and corruption, which continue to drive the import of e-waste. Therefore, the recommendations are addressed to exporting nations which generally have well-developed economies, political systems, and technology thus increasing the likelihood of control over the situation.

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Foreword – Volume 3, Issue 1

Dear Reader,

It is with great pride that I present to you the third volume of the Interdisciplinary Journal of Health Sciences (IJHS).

This year, the journal has enjoyed continued success with its recent expansion to disciplines beyond the Faculty of Health Sciences at the University of Ottawa.  In keeping with its objective, the IJHS continues to provide a forum in which students can showcase their original work to the scientific community in the official language of their choosing.  On behalf of the IJHS team, I would like to congratulate the authors who have been published in this issue and who are only just embarking on their journey into the exciting realm of research.

I would like to thank the peer review panel whose members consistently volunteered their time and expertise to help authors cultivate and refine their skills.  Without them, the journal would have no means of guiding the students that it aims to serve.  Furthering this end, I would like to thank Mirhad Loncar who generously provided translation services to ensure that all published abstracts received equal representation in both English and French.

Many thanks are also owed to Dr. Raywat Deonandan, whose concern for the growth of the journal extends not only to the editorial board but also to its volunteers and its readership.  As my team and I can attest, Dr. Deonandan has played a critical role in bringing the journal’s key objective to fruition.

Lastly, the release of this issue would not have been possible without the assistance of the IJHS editorial board, which for the first time in its history was made up of both senior and associate editors.  The dedication that each of them has shown has undoubtedly contributed to the journal’s professional achievements this year.

My involvement with the IJHS has left me with many invaluable lessons about the intricacies and idiosyncrasies of the publication process. I hope you too become enriched reading this issue.


Selam Ogbalidet
BHSc, University of Ottawa