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IMMUNOCONTRACEPTION: Contraception using immunological barriers to contraception, e.g. anti-sperm antibodies. (DM)

IMMUNODEFICIENCY: The state of sub-standard expression of the immune system.

IMMUNOGLOBULIN: protein synthesized by the mature B lymphocytes to fight antigens. Immunoglobulins (Ig) are made up of two heterodimers, consisting of a light and a heavy chain. The assembly of these chains give rise to five classes of immoglobulins (IgA, IgD, IgE, IgG and IgM) and several subclasses of IgA and IgG. There are two types of light chains, called kappa ( ) and lamda ( ), and nine types of heavy chains. The IgG class comprises either gamma 1 ( 1 for the IgG1 subclass),  2 (IgG2),  3 (IgG3) or  4 (IgG4) chains; the IgA1 subclass has alpha 1 ( 1) and the IgA2  2 heavy chains. The other classes have delta ( ) (IgD), epsilon ( ) (IgE) and mu ( ) (IgM) chains. The variability of the recognition site for the diverse antigens lies in the N-terminal portion, also called the variable region, both of the light and heavy chains. The C-terminal region is called the constant region, since it is almost identical from one antibody to the other within the same class or subclass. (see also ANTIBODY) (GK)

IMMUNOSUPPRESSION: That state of inhibiting the expression of the immune system.

IMPACT: An effect or change caused by some factor, for example a social or environmental impact which improves or deteriorates the wellbeing of people or ecology. Impacts may be positive or negative, primary (direct) or secondary (flow-on effects), immediate, gradual or delayed, may produce feedback, reinforce each other’s momentum, act in combination (additive or multiplicative), may be dependent on limits or thresholds, be measurable or unknown, and be of varying magnitude and/or significance. (See CAUSATION, EFFECT, ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT) (MP)

IMPERIAL UNITS: The system of measurements based on the yard and the pound that is still used in the United States of America. (See METRIC UNITS). (IP)

IMPLANTATION: The process by which the fertilized oocyte (zygote) becomes attached to the wall of the uterus (endometrium). It commences in the seventh day or human embryo development, and is completed by day 14. (DM)

IMPRINTING: When an event or experience becomes fixed in someone's memory or marked in some way on their appearance. In genetics, the DNA may be marked in a particular way to turn the expression off. (DM)



IN UTERO GENE THERAPY: In the 1990s scientists developed a technique in mice in which foreign DNA was transported intravenously to the developing embryo in utero. It was found that the maternal blood flow effectively transported the DNA through the placenta, opening up the way for somatic in utero gene therapy. These advances are significant because they foreshadow the use of in utero gene transfer in humans where specific target organs; such as the lung in the case of cystic fibrosis, could be targeted for therapy with the advantage of arresting the genetic defect before it can severely damage target tissues and organs in affected children. The major hazard of somatic gene therapy, as with all experimental treatments, is that things could go wrong. The development of human fetal gene therapy, however, carries many more complex moral and ethical questions not least the issues of deliberate, or accidental, targeting of the germ-line cells with physiological/psychological consequences on future generations of children. Technical advances in germ-line genetic modification in unscrupulous hands raises the disconcerting issue of eugenics and designer babies. (See GERM-LINE GENE THERAPY, SOMATIC-CELL GENE THERAPY). (IP)

IN VITRO: Literally "in glass"; pertaining to a biological process or reaction taking place in an artificial environment, usually a laboratory. Referring to a process or reaction carried out in a test tube or culture disk Like carrying out fertilization in a test tube. (DM, JA)

IN VITRO EXPERIMENTS: Experiments carried out on tissue/cells/eggs/sperms samples separated from living animals. (Lit = in glass). (JA)

IN VITRO FERTILIZATION (IVF): A technique of medically assisted conception (sometimes referred to as "testtube" fertilization) in which mature oocytes are removed from a woman's ovary and fertilized with sperm in a laboratory. (See EDWARDS, EMBRYO TRANSFER, LOUIS BROWN, STEPTOE).(OPEN)

IN VIVO: Literally "in the living"; pertaining to a biological process or reaction taking place in a living cell or organism. The process carried out in human body itself. (JA, DM)

IN VIVO EXPERIMENTS: Experiments that are carried out on living animals (Lit = in life) (JA)

INCOME: Money that is earned from doing work or received from investments. Income is a demographic factor that influences many social factors and health outcomes. (DM)

INDEPENDENT VARIABLE: In statistics, the variable or attribute acting as a reference and which is thought to affect or influence the dependent variable. (See VARIABLE) (MP)

INDETERMINACY: Indeterminacy is where the scientific or social context is not sufficiently understood to allow an answer to a problem to be determined. Knowledge may be conditional on the validity of uncertain assumptions or axioms, or the system may be too complex and have insufficient models and monitoring. (See IGNORANCE, UNCERTAINTY, UNKNOWABLE, VERIFICATION) (MP)

INDEX: 1. One of the most important sections of reference works, the index is an alphabetical listing at the back of the subjects, concepts and memes contained within and page references for easy access. (See READING) 2. In statistics, an index is a measure created from the combination of two or more variables. (See HUMAN DEVELOPMENT INDEX, SCALE, VARIABLE) (MP)

INDEX OF SOCIAL HEALTH: An aggregated measure of sustainable social well being and progress. The Index of Social Health was developed by Marc Miringoff at the Fordham Institute in New York (1996). It combines estimates of the following into a single score: infant mortality, child poverty, child abuse, teenage suicide, drug abuse, alcohol-related traffic fatalities, homicides, high school dropouts, unemployment, weekly wages, food stamp coverage, health cover, housing access, elderly health costs, elderly poverty and the gap between rich and poor. (See GENUINE PROGRESS INDICATOR, GROSS DOMESTIC PRODUCT, SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT) (MP)

INDICATOR: An element or measure which has additional interpretive meaning beyond the measurement itself. (See ENVIRONMENTAL INDICATORS, INDICATOR SPECIES) (MP)

INDICATOR SPECIES: A species which plays a fundamental role in the ecosystem and is able to be monitored as a proxy indicator of broader environmental health. The species must be ecologically appropriate and representative, including its abundance, distribution, taxonomy, habitat specificity and life strategy. Appropriate choices of indicator species also include those with known sensitivity to particular pressures, those with pre-existing information and cross-regional comparability, and those which allow practical non-destructive sampling. Major examples include the defining habitat vegetation and any keystone species. Over-emphasis on species-level indicators is warned against however, as biodiversity concerns a range of biological scales from genes, through species, and on to the most important unit for conservation management ecosystems. (See BIOLOGICAL SCALES, ENVIRONMENTAL INDICATORS, KEYSTONE SPECIES) (MP)

INDIGENOUS: belonging naturally in an area; native, intrinsic, innate, not introduced [Latin indigena in + gen be born]. (IP)

INDIGENIZATION: The process and trend of popular return to previous cultural practices or beliefs, including re-affirmation of indigenous values and resurgence of religious faith. Indigenization is often a reaction in counterbalance to perceived encroachment of Western values, consumerism, relativism and power. Religious resurgence, often urbanized, strong-minded and anti-secular, is sometimes expressed at the introduction of new democracy to a country. During times of change people want the emotional and social support religion provides. Indigenization is not a rejection of modernization or development, but rather resistance against the globalization of culture. (See COLONIALISM, GLOBALIZATION, MODERNIZATION, WESTERN DECLINE) (MP)



INDIVIDUALISM: Freedom, liberalism or the ethic of self-actualization. The idea that freedom of thought and action for each person is the most important quality of a society, rather than shared effort and responsibility. (DM)

INDUCTION: A form of reasoning from individual cases to general ones, or from observed instances to unobserved ones. For example, inductive reasoning may follow thus: 'if this species is not endangered, that species is not endangered ... therefore all species are not endangered'. Obviously, in this case the conclusion is not true even if the premises are. (See DEDUCTION). (IP)

INDUCTIVE REASONING: The process of discovering a general principle by reasoning from a set of facts. (DM)

INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS: The relationships and agreements between workers, unions, management and employers, including wage agreements, collective bargaining and workers" rights. (MP)

INDUSTRIAL REVOLUTION: Originating in the wind and wheel-power of medieval times, the Industrial Revolution began in earnest with the invention of steam power in 18th century England. Using steam, coal, electricity and machines, the age of large-scale mechanized industry had begun. Industrialization and mass-production techniques spread across the globe transforming the way humans live, from concrete and conveyor-belts to manufactured goods and motor vehicles. The Industrial Revolution also brought into being mass-resource extraction, industrial warfare, factory labor and sprawling urban landscapes. (See INDUSTRIAL WARFARE, INDUSTRIALIZATION, INFORMATION REVOLUTION) (MP)

INDUSTRIAL WARFARE: The Industrial Revolution spawned production-line efficiency in the development of bulk weaponry. The resulting commercial distribution and large scale of "industrial warfare" led to the massive death toll of the two World Wars and most wars since. The folly of industrial warfare is epitomized by the nuclear bomb and other weapons of mass destruction. It seems obvious that industrial warfare can leave no real winners if belligerent nations are willing to exchange civilian death, psychological damage, economic loss and environmental destruction. Ironically, the warfare of the future will be aimed at stabilizing the proliferation of these dangerous industrial warfare technologies and methods. For us to survive our own technology, future wars must always have the aim of peace, with information the challenging-ground rather than physical bombing of societies and ecologies. (See INSTITUTION OF WAR, PEACEKEEPING) (MP)

INDUSTRIAL UNION: An organization that represents the people who work in an industry, protects their rights, and discusses their pay and working conditions with employers. (DM)

INDUSTRIALIZATION: Steadily increasing national development of industries such as resource extraction, processing, production, manufacturing and construction. Countries should be aware that extensive industrialization comes with environmental and cultural costs and may not be a sustainable or sensible long-term strategy. (See INDUSTRIAL REVOLUTION, NEWLY INDUSTRIALIZED COUNTRIES, URBANIZATION) (MP)

INFANT BIOETHICS COMMITTEE: A committee which prescribes guidelines neonates (new born) with disabilities are provided with comfort. Many neonatologists face had situations and make difficult and disturbing decisions. The committee provides ethical solace in such situations. Its other functions include: 1. "Education of staff and parents on relevant ethical principles and provision of literature and resources. 2. Policy development and establishment of ethical principles. 3. Prospective review through consultation in cases being considered for selective non-treatment and resolution of disagreements among staff and families, and 4. Retrospective review of relevant medical records to determine the appropriateness of hospital policies and whether these polices are being followed". (JA).

INFANT MORTALITY: the statistical rate of infant death during the first year of life expressed as the number of deaths per 1,000 live births in any specified geographical area in a given period. Neonatal mortality (death within 28 days of life) accounts for approximately 70% of infant mortality. (See SUDDEN INFANT DEATH SYNDROME). (IP)

INFANTS: In the USA the age designation for humans 1-23 months old. (DM)

INFANTICIDE: The crime of killing an infant child. Sometimes related to gender discrimination when it is one particular gender that is killed. (DM)

INFER: To imply, or draw a conclusion from assumptions based on the implications of the evidence. (See INFERENCE) (MP)

INFERENCE: Reasoning which relies on correlation between two things, such that characteristics or implications of one are assumed also in the other. For example, inference from the part to the whole. (See INFER, STATISTICAL INFERENCE) (MP)

INFERTILITY: Inability of a couple to conceive after a long period (e.g. 12-24 months) of intercourse without contraception. A condition in a beings where they are not able to bear a progeny, defective sperm/ovum/reproductive system (see social infertility). According to WHO a failure to conceive after at least two yeas of unprotected intercourse, it encompasses both sterility and sub-fertility, it is about 10% in industrialized countries (see SOCIAL INFERTILITY). (JA)

INFERTILITY TREATMENT: Many types (See ART) including hormonal, IVF, development of many embryos, one emplanted in uterus, others frozen/discarded/researched. (JA)


INFINITY: Endless. Among the entities thought of as infinite have been God, the universe, time, the points on a line, the set of all natural numbers, etc. The Indian philosopher, Sri Aurobindo, criticized monotheistic religions on the ground that they deny the infinity of God. By dictating only one concept of God, they actually limit God. Polytheistic religions, he argued, are more faithful to God's infinity by recognizing that God's greatness can only be approached through many gods, i.e. many different concepts of God, or many different ways in which God appears. (FL)

INFORMAL SOCIAL CONTROL: Restraints on behavior that are exerted through social pressure, for example, through mores, folkways, conventions, or public sentiment. (DM)

INFORMATICS: The study of the application of computer and statistical techniques to the management of information. In genome projects, informatics includes the development of methods to search databases quickly, to analyze DNA sequence information, and to predict protein sequence and structure from DNA sequence data. (See BIOINFORMATICS) (DM)

INFORMATION: Patterns or sequences of data organized in a way such that they have meaning in some system or process (e.g. DNA, computer programs). The opposite of information is "noise", or randomly sequenced data. (See DATA, INFORMATION THEORY, KNOWLEDGE) (MP)

INFORMATION OVERLOAD: A glut of information such that effective analysis and decision-making are made more difficult. Information overload is a typical characteristic of the internet. (MP)

INFORMATION SUPERHIGHWAY: A descriptive term whose usage has declined where instant access to information has become normal and commonplace. The information superhighway is a metaphor illustrating the vast volumes of data and information able to be summoned across the internet and other electronic media channels. (See CYBERSPACE, INFOSPHERE, INTERNET) (MP)

INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY (IT): Computer technology for the production, storage, manipulation and communication of information. Most commonly framed within a business context, information technology may also be usefully applied to environmental management. (See KNOWLEDGE ENGINEERING) (MP)

INFORMATION THEORY: Mathematical and other theories concerning the nature of information and its recognition from noise, and the carrying capacities of different channels of communication. (MP)

INFORMED CONSENT: Informed consent can be coerced, but the principle of Autonomy (q.v.) would demand that it be freely given by patients in all cases of treatment or medical experimentation. Hospitals frequently demand that patients sign informed consent forms before receiving treatment, but it may be questioned whether the purpose is to uphold the ethical rights of the patient, or rather to protect the hospital in case of legal proceedings for error. The right to informed consent can be overridden if the patient's life or health are in clear and immediate danger and the patient is temporarily or permanently incompetent to decide for oneself. There are many difficult borderline cases in pediatric, psychiatric, geriatric and emergency medicine. It can be questioned whether any patient in a state of pain, fear or emotional pressure can really give free informed consent. The devices of advanced directives and living wills (q.v.), have been legalized in some countries in order to allow one to give or deny informed consent in advance of becoming incompetent. (FL)

INFOSPHERE: (Information + Sphere) The infosphere is the collected data and information in cyberspace and different forms of media from which resources for research, decision-making and human knowledge can be drawn. It is ultimately information which illustrates and determines how energy acts upon matter in the course of the Earth’s progress. (See ANTHROPOSPHERE, BIOSPHERE, COLLECTIVE MEMORY, CYBERSPACE, INTERNET, NOOSPHERE) (MP)

INFRASTRUCTURE: The basic systems and services, such as transport and power supplies, that a country or organization uses in order to function. (DM)

INHERITANCE: Genes that you receive from your parents. Also money or objects that someone gives you when they die. (DM)


INHIBITORY: In biochemistry, compounds which block the action of enzymes. Inhibition may be either reversible or irreversible. (IP)

INJUSTICE occurs when some benefit to which a person is entitled is denied without good reason or when some burden is imposed unduly. (JA)

INSANITY: (Latin in 'not' + sanus 'sound'). Unsound or disturbed mental functioning - mental illness. Was formerly equated with psychosis but is now a medico-legal term signifying a person who is unfit to plead in a court of law. Causes if insanity maybe twofold or a combination of both: 1. Organic disorders of degenerative or hereditary etiology; such as schizophrenia, forms of dementia and 2. affective disorders which include psychoneurosis characterized by severe depression, anxiety and drug abuse. Insanity is not a simple condition or concept because the etiology is almost always multifactorial; that is, part genetic part socio-cultural where the individual's metabolic-hormonal characteristics adversely interact with environmental factors. (See DEMENTIA, PSYCHOSIS). (IP)

INESECURITY: Insecure people lack confidence and are uncertain about their own abilities and about whether other people really like them. People may also have financial insecurity when they are not sure they will have the money for the future. (DM)

INSECTICIDE: A poison that kills insects. Include inorganic salts arsenicals, DDt- organochlorines and organophosphates hormones/pheromones and biological control, Integrated Pest management measures. (JA)



INSTINCT: An innate (inborn) usually stereotyped behavioural response to one or more environmental stimuli. So, for example, even blind babies smile when pleased. In fact, though, practically all human behaviour, even if it has an instinctive component, is at least partly under its owner's control. (MR)

INSTITUTION OF WAR: a form of collective, institutionalized violence driven by planned strategies that maintain the structure of war. Aggression during wartime is termed institutionalized violence because, unlike individual aggression, it is driven by a diversity of carefully planned strategies that maintain the structure of war. By institutionalizing war the hideousness of military conflict is not legislatively forbidden, as is infanticide, child abuse, torture, murder, rape and other forms of barbaric aggressive behavior during peacetime. On the contrary, these acts become pervasive cultural factors influencing the acceptability and aggrandizement of war. All cultures have sanitized war atrocities in fiction, art, film and the Internet; and warriors have always been glorified in secular and religious propaganda. Proof of the short-term profitability of war is everywhere, for example, the 1990s have seen more than 20% of the world’s qualified scientists and engineers engaged in military research, while annual global military expenditure had exceeded world spending on health by 28% (see ETHNIC CLEANSING, NUCLEAR WINTER, POST TRAUMATIC STRESS DISORDER). (IP)

INSTITUTIONAL BIOSAFETY COMMITTEE (IBSC): A committee in an institution to examine biosafety concerns. A competent authority constituted by an occupier or any person including research institutions handling microorganism/genetically engineered organisms. The committee shall be comprised of the Head of the Institution, Scientists engaged in DNA work, a medical expert and a nominee of the Department of Biotechnology. The committee shall prepare an up to date on site emergency plan according to the manuals/guidelines of the RCGM and make available copies to the District Level Committee State Biotechnology Co-ordination Committee and the Genetic Engineering Approval Committee. (See BIOSAFETY, ETHICS COMMITTEE). (JA, DM)

INSTITUTIONAL REVIEW BOARD: Sometimes called "IRB" or "Helsinki Committee", this is a body established by an institution -- a university, hospital, ministry of health or of science, a private or corporate industry, etc -- to review activities and proposed activities within the institution and to ensure that they meet certain ethical, scientific, or professional standards. A committee which supervises ethical and scientific quality of activities, especially research, within an institution. They usually deal mainly with human and animal experimentation, but environmental IRB's might also be considered. In order to avoid conflict of interest the committee should have members from outside the institution.

Sometimes hospitals and other institutions appoint people whose job it is to approve or disapprove proposals to conduct research within the institution, where the purpose is ensure that embarassing facts are not discovered and published. Such people simply protect the self-interest of the institution and are not to be confused with IRB's. Hospitals and medical schools might have one IRB to oversee experimentation with human subjects, and another one to oversee animal experimentation.

It is difficult to establish an IRB with no conflict of interest whatsoever, because people who have sufficient scientific expertise to serve on the committee might naturally have an interest in seeing research proceeding unhindered. It is important, therefore, to include at least some non-professionals on the committee. (See HELSINKI DECLARATION) (FL)

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