Coming Full Circle: In Search of The Good Corporate Citizen

In general, I have the belief that most ethics courses whether they be medical ethics or business ethics tend to be taught from too theoretical of a standpoint.  Scenarios are often defined to have black and white answers, and thus the students never actually deal with true moral dilemmas until they are actually on the job.  This is especially true for those who spend their lives in consulting and/or academia, with no real understanding of the pressures that actually happen in an operational environment.  Having gone through some particularly stressful board meetings, I was quite excited when I heard about a new PBS production that will attempt to showcase some of the moral complexity involved:

Banner: In Search of the Good Corporate Citizen

Everyday we hear about business people who gamble on ethics to meet business goals. The ongoing stream of scandals begs the question, “Why does this keep happening?” From an Emmy-winning team of producers, “In Search of the Good Corporate Citizen” weaves together expert panel discussions with personal accounts from real-life white-collar criminals and whistleblowers.

Unable to catch the show on the air, I contacted Light On Production to try and get a copy of the DVD. After several phone calls, Denny Swenson, the producer of the show sent me a *free* copy of their first show, “Hitting the Numbers”!

I think the show is quite well done, and the stories that they showed were truly remarkable. The show leveraged a small panel to discuss each story after they were presented.   The panel was moderated by Thomas Donaldson from the Wharton School of Business and was composed of:

  • William W. George, the former chairman and CEO of Medtronic
  • Ben Heineman, General Counsel of General Electric
  • Donna C. Boehme, former chief compliance officer of BP

Given the show was filmed in 2008, one can reasonably assume that Boehme did not lose her job over the oil scandal.  However, just from the body language of the panelists, it was quite obvious that they were quite dismissive of the idea of having a chief compliance officer and frankly I am as well.  Perhaps such a role is indeed necessary in many large institutions, but it was not clear from the panel discussions how a CCO as described by Boehme would have in anyway contributed to ethical behaviors in an organization.  What was truly disappointing with this panel was that they never really acknowledged how much pressure there was in middle management and how sometimes the decisions are actually not that black and white.  Even with Donaldson offering up truly gray and realistic scenarios, the panel always converged on black and white solutions.  I would assume that the panelists themselves were at least somewhat worried about their professional image if they had mention doubts.  Perhaps true ethical discussions involving business executive can never happen in front of a camera?

Coming Full Circle: Interesting statistics about sexual relationships and their implications on the spread of HPV

College campuses are increasingly turning into hubs for the spread of STDs as college students take on an increasing number of sexual partners. On average, college students now have around 3 sexual partners a year (Martens et al).

It turns out that male students in general would like to be much more promiscuous than their female counterparts. Undergraduate men expressed a desire for a significantly greater mean number of sex partners than did undergraduate women, over a 1-year period, women, on average, were interested in a single sex partner, whereas the average man expressed a desire for about seven partners (Fenigstein et al, 2007). This result did not change in a statistically significant way for those in serious relationships. What was particularly surprising to me is that males are actually successful in being more promiscious, even among the supposedly more conservative asian subgroup (Arliss 2008). As one can observe from the graph below, males have a much higher percentage of being sexually active with more than 3 partners than females.

The implications above are particularly disturbing for the spread of Human papillomavirus (HPV) infections. HPV is mostly harmless in men but might develop into cervical cancer in women. HPV is estimated to be the most commonly transmitted STD. A recent paper from Sexually Transmitted Disease: Influence of Partner’s Infection Status on Prevalent Human Papillomavirus Among Persons With a New Sex Partner included some extremely surprising statistics.

Women attending university or college in Montreal, Canada, and their male partners (N = 263 couples) were enrolled in 2005–2008. HPV was detected in 56% of women and men. 44% have a type that can lead to cancer. New relationships are when HPV transmission is most likely.

The overall prevalence rate of HPV in the US has never been firmly established, with rates ranging from 14% to 90% being published in peer-reviewed literature (Dunne et al, Revzina et al). Studies however, agree on the trend that a much higher incident rate of HPV is being reported on college campuses than in the general public.

The highest prevalence of HPV was identified among women attending sexually transmitted diseases (STD) clinics and college students, identifying them as target populations for prevention interventions. Conversely, the lowest HPV prevalence was among women in the general population.

With the recently released and much publicized HPV vaccine, many women might be lulled into a false sense of security. For one, the vaccine is only mildly effective on a few strains of the HPV virus, and only particularly effective PRIOR to exposure to the virus (Sawaya et al, 2007).

With grade 2 or 3 cervical intraepithelial neoplasia or adenocarcinoma in situ as the outcome, the difference in risk so far appears to be modest: 219 of 6087 vaccinated women (3.6%) received this diagnosis over an average of 3 years, as compared with 266 of 6080 unvaccinated women (4.4%). The absolute risk difference of 0.8% indicates that 129 women would need to be vaccinated in order to prevent one case of grade 2 or 3 cervical intraepithelial neoplasia or adenocarcinoma in situ occurring during this period. If grade 3 cervical intraepithelial neoplasia or adenocarcinoma in situ were the most relevant outcome, evidence was insufficient to infer the effectiveness of vaccination.

This does not mean that girls should not be given the HPV vaccine, rather that they should still be careful (condoms) and should still have regular screenings, even when vaccinated.

Coming Full Circle: 2009 as “A Turning Point for Personal Genomes”

The Human Genome project was completed at the start of the last decade, and only in the last two years have we really begun to reap the fruits of the immense undertaking. I talk about some of commercial players and legal issues surrounding the wide spread adoption of personal genomic technology in medicine at the First AMA-IEEE Conference on Individualized Healthcare blog.

Incidentally, I’m also on the organizing committee for the conference mentioned above. Consider attending the conference if you are interested in Individualized Healthcare!

First AMA-IEEE EMBS Medical Technology Conference on Individualized Health Care
23-23 March 2010, Renaissance Mayflower Hotel, Washington, DC

Coming Full Circle: Elevator Advertising on Campuses

In the interest of anti-stealth, I’m going to publicly announce one of the for profit ventures that I am currently working on. Incidentally, what exactly happened to the NextNY anti-stealth movement? There was a lot of activity at the end of October, and then the whole movement seemingly collapsed.

Anyway, a friend and I have started exploring the idea of a new campus based venture. Many of you who are students are probably familiar with the few awkward minutes that you spend every few hours in an elevator traveling to and from class. While you are in the elevator, wouldn’t it be nice to have a nice LCD displaying current campus events that might be of interest to you, or perhaps an ad telling you about the discounted food at Chipotle down the block this week?

Our idea is exactly that, we would like to create a network of LCDs in campus elevators that would stream both campus events as well as advertisements. A well established player, Captivate Network, currently does this in the office building market. We would like to stay away from office buildings at the moment, and focus purely on college campuses (Facebook vs LinkedIn analogy?).

Captivate Network

Since both of us are current Columbia students, in fact both BME PhD students, we have decided to use Columbia University as a pilot site. I haven’t had time to put together a powerpoint presentation yet, but I will definitely post it in the next few days. For now we are tackling several thorny issues:

  • Is it even possible to do it in NY? We are currently checking the New York Fire Code. Safety code for elevators and escalators : an American national standard by the American Society for Mechanical Engineers will be our guide. Looks like I won’t need sleeping pills tonight.
  • We have done some back of the envelope calculations to see whether the idea is sustainable and scalable. If we intend to get more funding, we will have to produce a full financial projection. The projection itself is of course of no great importance to either investors or us, since reality almost always deviate significantly from the projections. Though it’s important to have one anyway, if nothing else than to show that due diligence was performed.
  • To start campus based businesses that depend so much on campus infrastructure, we are clearly going to need a faculty champion. We have started approaching various members of the engineering faculty, the business school faculty, as well as Columbia’s Science and Technology Ventures group to begin soliciting feedback and buy-ins. We’ve had a lot of success getting people excited about the concept, but haven’t found a champion of the project yet. If you know of a Columbia faculty who might be interested, please let me know!
  • I will also begin to approach NYU and CCNY about the idea as well, in case Columbia falls through as a pilot site.
  • We will clearly need a powerpoint presentation down the line. I’ll put up version 1.0 of the presentation in a few days.

Since we are still very early in our planning stages, we are open to all suggestions and ideas. Let me know if any of you have any feedback or have seen existing implementations on college campuses! If you happen to be a college student / faculty, and are interested in joining our team, shoot me an email: mail @ jackpo dot org.

Coming Full Circle: HATE MATHEMATICS

I really really hate math.. I don’t know if I’ve told this to anyone.


That is all. (Emo post of the month).

all posts

18A long way home

27AI analysis of my blogging style
13In Search of The Good Corporate Citizen
13Installing Rails, Apache, MySQL and Passenger on Snow Leopard with MacPorts
8Our Salt Intakes
26Gallery2 to Flickr Migration
16Interesting statistics about sexual relationships and their implications on the spread of HPV
152009 as “A Turning Point for Personal Genomes”
3HBR’s Top 100 Best-Performing CEOs in the World

1Blogging Break!

19Collapse of the Economy
27Jack’s Philosophies on life – Part I (Effort)
17Tools for small Organizations
19Elevator Advertising on Campuses
9New Blog Design!
16Heading off to UCSB Conference

26Bubble 2.0
222007 Credit Card Satisfaction Survey
22Startup Camp – Wednesday November 28th, 2007
18Coming back out of hibernation…. again
28Princeton Review Hemorraging Money
21Canadian Dollar reaching parity with US Dollar
20Amherst College replaces financial aid with scholarships
17Sunrocket bankrupt and royally screws customers
16Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows now definitely leaked
11McCain and the White House both falling apart
2The perfect storm at the White House
3Penn State ARML 2007 Recap
25Viagra to help travellers adjust to jet lag?
25Azia Kim is my hero
24Domain name squatters are assholes
21I am a covert: Vista & HDTV
17Aswin Chandrasekaran – Ruler of India!
13Korean Children Festival 2007 @ Fresh Meadows
10Celebrities gone wild, Paris Hilton and Jane Fonda
8Globalization, hackers too?
4AACS declaring war on bloggers
17Heroic acts amidst Virginia Tech tragedy
16Condolences to the Virginia Tech community
14ARML’s financials questionable
6Right to privacy and Vonage both lose in US court system
31Coworking convert
20Experian Group – Credit Reporting Pricks
12New Direction in life
17No calculators on AMC 2008 and beyond
29Michael Crichton’s Next
27University of California vs Intelligent Design
24Where is the knowledge age?
18Apple’s iPhone has no 3rd party application support
15Helper Applications
6Happy New Year and have a very hungry 2007!

17Transparency and accountability needed in government
15Scientists fighting back against the Bush administration
9MP3 players and headphones
23New York Magazine: The bastion of Journalism Idiocy
22What it takes to be great
16Computer Spam increasing in both quantity and complexity
6Scandals Abound – Indecision 2006
25NYU Psychology Department violating the spirit of IRB approvals and crossing ethical boundaries
20Faking Terrorist Attacks in Order to Graduate
18Apple Computer report preliminary fiscal fourth-quarter earnings
18Confident students do worse in math; bad news for U.S.
10Where is our Peter Wiggin?
8World of Warcraft meets South Park
7New web quiz: “Generous Inventor”
5Seamless Pictures – Robert Gonsalves
27Electronics Disaster
28Think you’ve gone on bad dates?
24My life as told through
25Sticks of Hope
12Slight Hiatus
31Heart doc halts surgery to donate blood
24IPO Frenzy! – Go Daddy, et tu?
17Illegal Immigration – US v.s. Mexico
15Vonage proposes IPO
6In Search of Excellence & Capital One
29DC Film Fest – A World without Thieves
23DC Film Fest – Hard Candy
17Foam Chair
15Fedora Core 5 – MythTV Adventures
11NYSML 2006
7Following Geoff
6Fedora Core 5 – Ouch…
31Legacy of Baltimore County Math Team
29SezenGate 2006 – Academic Scandal
27Netgear WGR101 – Review / False Advertising
22Random Survey
20Digital Media Consumers’ Rights Act
16Transparency into AMC’s operations

14Scientific Jargon
27Stunning triumph by math students gets short shrift
12Warez Crackdown
28Supreme Court Cleansing Needed
9Personality Quiz (Because of Jeff and Jennie)
12NYSML 2005
2Living Will
30The sad state of the world
18Tiananmen Square

11Incompetence in the Board of Elections
20A letter by Terry Jones (of Monty Python fame) to The Observer
6The I Shing @ Slashdot
3Stolen from Darren’s profile
13Glossary for Men | Words women use
8McDonald Coffee lawsuit not baseless
8The Trouble With Licensure
7Sis’s description… so true..
6Messed up Vendors
6Top 10 reasons for committing seppuku @ Slashdot
5HMMT 2004
3Woman uses sex act as manslaughter defense @ CNN
3Personality Test for Relationships
1Passion tickets bear ‘mark of the beast’ @ CNN
1Young Programmer, Stop Advocating Free Software @ Slasdot
29Billy Crystal @ Academy Awards 2004
29Jami Bernard @ New York Daily News
26New Lab… again
26THIS IS YOUR PRESIDENT TALKING!!!! – The first three years…can the English language survive?
26As God Told Me [Andy Rooney]
24Confessions of a Harvard Delinquent [Peter Cummin]
24This guy has balls [Michael Francis]
24Sarbuze @ TribalWar

28Wei Wei!

14Disaster Strikes
14First REAL encounter with Diane
14First Encounter with Diane
28Math Team…..
28First Rejection

28Blast from the past via Papa Smurf!
28First Love
27Probability @ TCI