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Life-and-death dilemmas. New medical technologies. Controversial treatments. In playing god? we hear from the patients whose lives were transformed—and sometimes saved—by medical innovations and the bioethicists who help guide complex decisions.

Ventilators can keep critically ill people alive, but when is it acceptable to turn the machines off? Organ transplants save lives but when demand outpaces supply how do we decide who gets them? Increasingly, novel reproductive technologies can help people have babies in ways that are far beyond what nature allows. So, when should such “Brave New World” technologies be introduced and who should control them? 

playing god? is hosted by Lauren Arora Hutchinson, Director of the iDeas Lab at the Johns Hopkins Berman Institute of Bioethics. 

playing god? is a co-production of Pushkin Industries and the Berman Institute of Bioethics at Johns Hopkins University, with generous support from The Greenwall Foundation. New episodes drop every Tuesday.

The Berman Institute has created a guide for each episode where you can learn more about the guests, the history, and the ethics issues here.

Most Recent Episode

Prequel: The God Squad

Back in the 1960s, a committee of seven Seattle residents met regularly to decide which patients with chronic kidney disease were “worthy” of life-saving dialysis.  Whoever wasn’t selected by the…

The Future of Baby-Making

In this episode we head into the future to learn about a controversial technology that could change the face of reproduction. Researchers are developing a technology called in vitro gametogenesis…

Miracle Drugs, Million Dollar Price Tags

Cheryl Yoder’s son Jase, was born with an incurable rare disease called spinal muscular atrophy (SMA), which meant he was unlikely to live beyond two years old. Jase managed to…

An Off Switch For Depression?

For years Brandy Ellis had tried everything to treat depression but nothing worked. Then one day she heard about something called deep brain stimulation, a brain implant that treats some…

Creating One Life to Save Another

When Laurie Strongin’s son Henry was born with the rare, often fatal disease of Fanconi anemia, doctors told her that the best way to save his life was with an…

A Womb of One’s Own?

Jen Dingle yearned to get pregnant and have children, but there was one problem: she was born without a uterus. So when she was ready to have children she was…

Why Can’t I Buy a Kidney?

It can take years to get to the top of the waiting list for a donated kidney in the U.S. So when Sally Satel found out she’d need a kidney…

Need a new Liver? Drinkers to the back of the Line.

One day, when she was only 39, bar manager Jamie Imhof collapsed. While she lay in a coma, doctors told her family that they knew how to save her life:…

The Girl Who Died Twice

When a 13 year-old girl from Oakland named Jahi McMath was pronounced brain dead after a surgical complication in 2013, California issued her a death certificate. Five years later, she…

I Would’ve Let You Die, Too

While Andrea Rubin lay unconscious and severely burned after a car fire, her father told doctors to do everything they could to keep her alive. She would need many surgeries.…

Introducing: playing god?

A new podcast about the complex ethical questions that get raised with groundbreaking medical innovations. Brought to you by Pushkin Industries and the Johns Hopkins Berman Institute of Bioethics.

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