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HIGH CHOLESTEROL - A NEW RISK?
The Artemesia Foundation has been established by a Group of Concerned Women Academics who feel strongly that the male-dominated scientific establishment does not permit the concerns of women to be adequately studied. Over the several years that the fund has operated, much of the funding has been geared to projects of a sociological nature. However, the Directors have asked for submissions from basic scientists as well.
Dr. Helmut Schwarzberg has proposed to study the relationship between serum cholesterol levels and serotonin receptors on platelets in battered women. He argues that studies have indicated that "a low cholesterol level among violent offenders in the younger age groups is a good and easily measured indicator of dangerousness," and that habitually violent tendencies and impulsiveness correlate with low concentrations of serotonin metabolites in CSF. Also recent animal studies suggest that "the aggressivity is related to reduced central serotonergic activity" (Biological Psychiatry 19: 435,1984; Ann.Med.22:327,1990; Lancet 339: 727,1992). He thus wishes to test the possibility that the converse may be seen in victims of violence.
This submission has been received with mixed feelings by the board. The external reviewers of the complete proposal have been critical of the methodological details though they have recommended funding. Several members are, however, uneasy about the tenor of such approaches to the problem.
This problem, again written in the standard format, raises another important set of issues for study. These include the nature and relevance of basic scientific research to solving social problems, the ethics of conducting such research and the role of special interest groups in funding research that appeals to them.