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PARTHENOGENESIS: Egg cells develop into an individual organism without the input of the sperms from the male organism. Parthenogenetic stem cells in nonhuman primates have been artificially induced to undergo the early stages of development with the contribution from the sperm (Science-1.2.2002). It occurs naturally under some conditions in birds. (JA, DM).


PARTICLE GUN: A tool in getting through fragments of DNA through the cell membrane into the a cell. Ultra thin tungsten metal particles (fractions of a micrometer) are mixed with DNA and fired at a very high speed into a cell using a 0.22 cartridge. (See BIOLISTIC GUN, BIOLISTICS). (JA)



PASSIVE SMOKING: The inhalation by nonsmokers of other people’s smoke. Research indicates that exposure to others' ambient smoke aggravates respiratory illnesses and contributes to more serious disorders, such as cancer. Children whose parents smoke suffer more upper and lower respiratory tract diseases than children whose parents do not smoke, and as adult nonsmokers living in the company of smokers, exhibit an increased risk of both fatal and nonfatal cardiac events. Pregnant women exposed to other people’s smoke are also more likely to deliver a low birthweight infant with an increased risk of SIDS due to a combination of inadequate prenatal growth and the hazards of exposure to ambient smoke. (See SMOKING, SUDDEN INFANT DEATH SYNDROME, XENOBIOTIC). (IP)

PASTORAL CARE: Counseling or comfort given by members of the clergy to patients in stressful situations. (DM)

PATENT: A legal monopoly right tenable for a limited period of time, given to an inventor, an invention filed with a patent office detailing ones invention. A patent is a grant issued by different government through a Patent and Trademark Office that gives the patent owner the right to exclude all others from making, using, or selling a patented invention within the country for the term of the patent (e.g. in the USA this is for 17 years). Fulfillment of one of the criteria, namely details about the patent must be fully disclosed, can enable others and provides incentives to improve the process or develop alternative methods. The patenting system enables commercial enterprisers to invest in the production and application of knowledge by allowing the benefits to be accrued to the company.

There are about three essential categories: 1. A product patent which deals with the product (a chemical or a biological entity, a substance or composition) per se. It also covers its practical uses. It would cover an active ingredient. 2. A process patent – a patent on the methodology or the process by which a product is produced. It would cover the actual making of the ingredient or its formulation. 3. A use patent – it covers the specific practical use of a product for a specific purpose. It would cover a specific pharmaceutical product for a specific medical aliment.

An application usually has three sections:1. An abstract - gives the summary of the application. 2. Description – a detailed description of the invention as to ensure the reproducibility of the same by another skilled person. 3. Claims – a detailed statement over which rights are asserted. All claims must be self explanatory in the sense it must be clear and complete. (See PATENT CRITERIA). (DM+JA)

PATENT CRITERIA: In order to issue a patent, following criteria are considered. The claim for the invention must be eligible for patenting, 1. It must be novel, 2 it must be inventive or non obvious 3. It must be useful or have an industrial application, must be fully disclosed in the patent application. A mere discovery does not merit patenting . (JA).

PATENTING LIFE: Many patent offices have expanded patent rights to encompass not just microorganisms but gene sequences, expressed sequence tags (ESTs), proteins, cell lines, genetically modified plants and animals and even non genetically modified species. As on Nov 2002 6,000 patents on full length genes from human, animal, plants, bacteria and viral sources have been awarded, besides 20,000 gene patents. It is estimated that life patents cover 5,00,000 different molecular structures. There has been considerable controversy about patenting of life and genetic material. (JA, DM)

PATERNITY TESTING: In certain disputes involving multiple sex partners, a woman may declare that the father of her child is not her husband, then DNA identification is carried out. DNA fingerprinting is used in Paternity Testing. It involves legal questions like "support obligations". (JA)

PATERNAL NOTIFICATION: Informing the father. It is a contentious issue in some states regarding the question of whether paternal notification is required for legal abortion decisions by the mother. (DM)

PATERNALISM: The system of action in which one person treats another the way a father treats a child, striving to promote the other's good even against the other's wishes. The setting of limits on individual autonomy in an effort to benefit, or to prevent harm to, the person whose autonomy is limited . (DM)

PATHOGENIC: Able to cause disease; often utilized to express inactivation or lethality. (DM)

PATIENT ACCESS TO RECORDS: Access by patients to their own medical, genetic, or other health-related records. (DM)

PATIENT ADMISSION: Acceptance of a patient by a hospital or other health facility. (DM)

PATIENT ADVOCACY: Promotion and protection of the rights of patients by an institutionally-appointed or self-designated person or group. (See PATIENTS' RIGHTS). (DM)

PATIENT CARE: Includes medical and nursing care. (DM)

PATIENT CARE TEAM: A multidisciplinary team in which each member of the team has specific responsibilities and the whole team contributes to the care of the patient (DM)

PATIENT COMPLIANCE: Cooperation of the patient in following a prescribed regimen. (DM)

PATIENT TRANSFER: Interfacility transfer of patients, usually for economic reasons. (DM)

PATIENT RECORDS: The medical records of patients. In some countries patients have a legal right to view them, and in others they do not. (See PRIVACY). (DM)

PATIENTS' RIGHTS: Fundamental claims of patients, as expressed in statutes, declarations, or generally accepted moral principles. (DM)

PAX: 1. Latin: pāx ‘peace’, or a binding together by treaty, associated with pacīscī ‘to agree; pact’. 2. A sacred item blessed by a Roman Catholic priest. 3. A colloquial appeal for truce or ceasefire. (See PAX AMERICANA, PEACE) (MP)

PAX AMERICANA: The ‘American Peace’, or peace imposed by the dominance of the U.S.A. (post World War II); from language of the Roman Empire (Latin: pāx ‘peace’), and in the lineage of Pax Romana (first centuries bce), Pax Ecclesiastes (first centuries) and Pax Britannica (nineteenth century). (See PAX, PEACE) (MP)




PEACE: (Latin: pax, French: pais, Spanish: paz, Arabic: salaam, Hebrew: shalom) Peace is not just an absence of war. Peace is the absence of any violence, hostility, threats, force, civil strife, conflict, bad intentions, mental disturbance or negativity. Peace is the presence of unity, agreement, security, sufficiency, calm, tranquility, freedom and wellbeing. (See AHIMSA, NON-VIOLENCE, PACIFISM, PEACE KEEPING, SALAAM, SHALOM, SHANTI, TRANQUILITY, UNITED, UNITY) (MP)

PEACE BUILDING: Strategies that create conditions which address the causes of conflict (pre-conflict peace building) and ensure non-recurrence of violence (post-conflict peace building). Methods include preventive diplomacy, peace making, arms control, dispute resolution, conflict analysis, and the introduction of democratic institutions and economic restructuring. Scientific analysis of international conflict uses quantitative methods to predict war-prone dyads (e.g. study of alliances, arms races, capability balance), war-prone states (e.g. national economic and political organization), war-prone regions (regional patterns, population pressure, contagion), and war-prone systems (heterogeneity, polarity etc). Prevention and peace building measures must include meeting people’s requirements for identity and quality of life, and using the ‘soft power’ of an ethically persuasive value system. (See DISARMAMENT, DOVE, FACILITATION, PEACE, PEACE MAKING, PEACE MOVEMENT, PREVENTIVE DEPLOYMENT, PREVENTIVE DIPLOMACY, SOFT POWER) (MP)

PEACE ENFORCEMENT: As well as ‘Peace Keeping’ mission, the United Nations in 1992 added ‘Peace Enforcement’, ‘Preventive Deployment’ and ‘Peace Building’ options to its official list for dealing with conflict. The enforcement option should be reserved as a last resort after diplomatic peace making and peace keeping attempts have demonstrably failed. Peace enforcement can be essentially the same pattern and process as a conventional invasion, only with United Nations mandate. Examples include the 1950 Unified Command in Korea, 1990 Gulf War coalition in Kuwait, 1992-3 UNPROFOR in Bosnia-Herzegovina and 1993 UNOSOM II intervention in Somalia. The differences between peace enforcement and war are perhaps in the justification for war (Jus ad bellum), but should also be in its conduct (Jus in bello). (See AGGRESSOR NATION, EUPHEMISM, JUST WAR THEORY, PEACE KEEPING, PEACE BUILDING, PREVENTIVE WAR, SANCTIONS) (MP)

PEACE KEEPING: Deployments of military forces to maintain order and control in situations of recent conflict. Limited to self-defense and non-coercive mandate, peace observers and peace keepers try to establish security and adherence to negotiated agreements, ceasefires and military withdrawals. Peacekeepers also try as best they can to protect civilians and humanitarian workers (e.g. Red Cross, Médicins Sans Frontières), and maintain order on the streets. Deployments may be the distinctive blue-helmeted United Nations troops, or other independently-organized national or multinational forces. The first United Nations peace operation to be deployed is likely still there (UNTSO 1948 in Israel). Other examples of Peace Keeping deployments have included UNGOMAP 1988 for the Soviet withdrawal of Afghanistan, UNIIMOG 1988 for Iran/Iraq, UNTAC 1992 in Cambodia, S-FOR in Bosnia-Herzegovina, and INTERFET 1999 in East Timor. The boundaries between ‘Peace Keeping’ and ‘Peace Enforcement’ may be blurred, for example UNIKOM 1991 on the Iraq/Kuwait border, UNPROFOR 1992 in Croatia and Bosnia, and UNOSOM 1993 in Somalia had Ch.VII Peace Enforcement mandate but were more like peace keeping in operational practice. (See CONFLICT RESOLUTION, NON LETHAL WEAPONRY, PEACE, PEACE BUILDING, PEACE ENFORCEMENT, PREVENTIVE DEPLOYMENT, PREVENTIVE DIPLOMACY) (MP)

PEACE MAKING: The use of diplomatic means to negotiate a peaceful settlement and cessation of hostilities, for example dispute mediation by a third country or personality of international standing such as the Secretary General of the United Nations. Peace making uses similar methods as preventive diplomacy, only after conflict has already taken hold. Neutral mediation in combination with facilitators from identifying cultural groups or civilizations may encourage trust and effective communication for negotiation and ceasefire. (See CONFLICT RESOLUTION, FACILITATION, MEDIATION, NEGOTIATION, PEACE, PEACE BUILDING, PREVENTIVE DIPLOMACY) (MP)

PEACE MOVEMENT: The peace movement is a worldwide collection of anti-war activists, philosophers of peace, and others committed in opposition to conscription, armed conflict, nuclear technologies, military-industrial complex, violent media, gun ownership, government oppression, terrorism and/or other abuses of human rights. Its ideologies have parallels to varying degrees with green politics, the civil rights movement, socialism, anti-nuclear, anti-globalization, anarchism, preventive diplomacy and peacekeeping. Elements of pacifism and peace activism can be seen for example in some of the words and philosophies of Jesus Christ, Gautama Siddhartha (Buddha), Mahavira, Lao Tzu, Bertrand Russell, Leo Tolstoy, Hermann Hesse, Mahatma Mohandas Gandhi (assassinated 1948), John F. Kennedy (assassinated 1963), Martin Luther King Jr. (assassinated 1968), John Lennon (assassinated 1980), Yitzhak Rabin (assassinated 1995), Princess Diana Spencer (1997), Sergio Vieira de Mello (assassinated 2003), Pope John Paul II, Nelson Mandela, Kofi Annan, Noam Chomsky, Aung San Suu Kyi, and Tenzin Gyatso (Dalai Lama). (See ACTIVISM, AHIMSA, ANTI-GLOBALIZATION MOVEMENT, CONSCIENTIOUS OBJECTOR, GREEN MOVEMENT, NONVIOLENT DIRECT ACTION, NONVIOLENT RESISTANCE, PACIFISM, PROTEST, UTOPIA, VIOLENT MEDIA) (MP)


PECKSNIFFIAN a. Archaic: a hypocritical parade of benevolence or high principle (after a character in one of Charles Dickens" novels, 1812-70). (IP)

PEDIGREE: An structured family tree showing relevant genetic characteristics. Eg. Albinism. (JA)

PEER REVIEW: The evaluation by professionals of the quality of work performed by fellow professionals. (DM)

PENAL SERVITUDE: Time spent in jail or a penal institution, that may include labour for community good. (DM)

PENTATEUCH: The Five Books of Moses, or the first five books of the Hebrew Bible ('Genesis' to 'Deuteronomy'). These books comprise the Torah, central teachings of the Jewish faith. (See OLD TESTAMENT, TORAH) (MP)


PER ANNUM: (Latin: ‘by the year’) A statistic referring to amount per year, e.g. number of births per annum. (MP)

PER CAPITA: (Latin: "by heads") A statistic referring to a proportion per person or for each individual; e.g. average annual income per capita. (MP)

PERCENTILE: The pth percentile is a value such that p percent of the data take on this value or less. It is a measure that locates values in the data set that are not necessarily central locations. It provides information regarding how the data items are distributed. (JA)

PERCEPTION: Human awareness and understanding of the environment, both physical and social, perceived elements and relationships that surrounds them, meaning/importance understood by different groups of people in different times and places. (See SENSES). (JA)



PERMACULTURE: ("Permanent" + "Agriculture"). The design and maintenance of agriculturally productive ecosystems which have the diversity, stability and resilience of natural ecosystems. Permaculture is based on the observation of nature rather than its domination, and allows the co-existence of natural systems within the cultivated agricultural system. Instead of the conventional monocultural practice of "mining the land" of its fertility and ecology for the purpose of providing a single product, permaculture is a combination of ecology, agriculture, forestry, energy, architecture, animal husbandry, traditional wisdom and scientific technology. The term was coined in 1974 by Bill Mollison of Australia and is spreading to become a global grassroots initiative. (See MONOCULTURE, SUSTAINABLE AGRICULTURE). (MP)

PERMACULTURE ETHICS: Planning for long-term sustainability by the use of a diverse polycultural mix of species, cultivation of the smallest possible land area, the use of species native to the area, the use of renewable resources and energy, reafforestation, the incorporation of subsistence agriculture into urban areas, promotion of self-reliance, community, recycling, reduced consumption, ethical and environmental education. (See PERMACULTURE, POLYCULTURE, SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT) (MP)

PERSISTENT ORGANIC POLLUTANTS (POPs): These dangerous chemicals remain in the environment for long periods, are highly toxic in small doses, undergo bioaccumulation, and have been implicated as carcinogens (e.g. breast cancer) and endocrine disruptors (e.g. reduced sperm counts). The "dirty dozen" POPs identified by the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) include the dioxins, furans, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), DDT, dieldrin, aldrin, endrin, mirex, toxaphene and chlordane, but others also of particular concern include endosulfan, halogenated chemicals and volatile organic compounds such as toluene and benzene. Such poisons must be phased out at their industrial sources to prevent export to the less regulated world, accumulation in the environment or damage to human health. (See POLLUTION, POLYCHLORINATED BIPHENYLS, SYNTHETIC HORMONE DISRUPTORS) (MP)


PERSONAL PILLS: Knowledge about the details of Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms (SNIPs) can indicate genetic variations, which may dictate how drugs are prescribed for a particular person. (JA)

PERSONHOOD: Descriptively, the status of being self-aware, capable of rational thought and of moral agency; normatively, the status of being accorded moral and/or legal rights. (DM)


PET SCAN: short for positron emission tomography - a computerized radiographic technique that employs radioactive substances, typically labeled glucose, to examine the metabolic activity of various body structures. The labeled substance is inhaled or injected where it emits positively charged particles which, on combining with negatively charged cellular electrons, result in the creation of gamma rays that are then converted into color-coded images that indicate the intensity of the metabolic activity of the organ, or body part involved. The technology is particularly useful for the study of blood flow, metabolism of the heart, diagnosis of cancer and the biochemical activity of the brain (see MRI). (IP)



pH: ("potential of hydrogen") The acid-base measurement, a logarithmic scale across which a pH of 0 is the most acid, pH 7 is neutral, and pH 14 the most basic (alkaline). Pure water is pH 7.0 and blood is about pH 7.4. (MP)

PHARMACEUTICAL CHEMISTRY: (Greek pharmakon 'drug'). Engaged in the application, composition, preparation and sale of medicinal drugs used in diagnoses and therapies. (See DRUG, PHARMACOLOGY, PHARMACOPOEIA). (IP)


PHARMACOGENOMICS A term that describes the use of advanced genetic tools to elucidate how variations in patients" DNA may diminish or amplify drug effects or render a pharmaceutical toxic. (JA)

PHARMACOLOGY: (Greek pharmakon 'drug' + logos 'science'). The science of the actions, properties, preparation and uses of drugs on living systems. (See DRUG, PHARMACEUTICAL CHEMISTRY, PHARMACOPOEIA). (IP)

PHARMACOPOEIA: (Greek pharmakon 'drug' + poiein 'to make'). A book listing drugs that describe their standard preparation, recommended administration, clinical uses, toxic effects, and fate (if known) in the body. National pharmacopoeias are published in many countries; for example, the French Codex, European Pharmacopoeia and United States Pharmacopoeia. These reference texts are reviewed regularly. (See DRUG, PHARMACEUTICAL CHEMISTRY, PHARMACOLOGY). (IP)


PhD: Doctor of Philosophy.

PHENCYCLIDINE HYDROCHLORIDE: An anesthetic drug used in veterinary medicine, it is also known as PCP (perhaps from PeaCe-Pill) or "Angel dust" (perhaps from the Hell’s Angels), and has been used as an illegal recreational drug since the 1960s. Symptoms include loss of pain response, distortions of perception, increased pulse and blood pressure, potential hallucinations, seizure, ataxia and respiratory depression risking death. (See KETAMINE HYDROCHLORIDE). (IP+MP)

PHENOTYPE: The characteristics of individuals that result from the interaction of their genotypes and their environments. The external appearance of an organism -controlled by genes and environment. (See GENOTYPE). (JA, DM)

PHILOSOPHY: Philosophia, in Greek, means love of wisdom. The great philosophers, before the nineteenth century, at least, almost always developed their philosophies out of their attempts to grapple with tension between science and spirituality. It is hard to find a great philosopher who was not deeply learned both in science and mathematics, and in the theology of at least one religion. Since philosophy became an academic profession, some professional philosophers still fit this description, but not all do.

One of the greatest of all philosophers was Plato.. Over the gate of his Academy in ancient Athens were the words: "Let no one enter who has not studied mathematics." Philosophy in Plato's day was largely inspired by wonder at the spiritual implications of mathematics. From the 17th Century revolution in physics of Descartes and Newton, through the days of Einstein and Heisenberg, physics was the inspiration of philosophical thought, and those not learned in it might have been forbidden entry to philosophical academies. The sciences, which inspire wonder today, are the health and biological sciences. But only a minority of members of university philosophy departments is learned in health and biological sciences. Nor are a majority of professional philosophers sufficiently learned in the theologies of any religions to grapple adequately with spiritual implications of science. So there is a vacuum. Bioethics is a new, interdisciplinary, co-operative endeavour, which attempts to fill this vacuum by bringing together people from several disciplines (each complementing the others) to grapple with questions of the kinds which philosophers used to address. (FL)

PHLOEM: Plant conductive tissue involved in the transport of organic materials. (See PLANTAE, XYLEM) (MP)

PHOBIA: (Greek: phobos 'fear') Irrational dread or abnormal anxiety resulting from a specific subject or situation. Awareness of the irrationality of the fear is usually not enough to prevent it, and the trigger for the phobic response may spread or generalize in some sufferers. Phobias may arise from repetitive emotional conditioning in childhood or as a result of some specific shocking or fearful event. Predisposition to certain phobias may have been selected for by evolution, but in the modern day most phobias are negative preoccupations maladaptive to normal living. The most commonly existing phobia is social-anxiety disorder; the extreme case of phobia is the panic attack. Phobias may be managed and reduced using cognitive-behavioral therapy involving progressive desensitization to the stimulus of the fear. Examples of specific phobias include fear of pain (algophobia or odynophobia), death (necrophobia), sinning (peccatophobia), nudity (gymnophobia or dishabiliophobia), homosexuality (homophobia), sex (erotophobia or malaxophobia), marriage (gamophobia), childbirth (tocophobia), children (pedophobia), strangers (xenophobia), clowns (coulrophobia), spiders (arachnophobia), germs (mysophobia), crowds (ocholophobia), enclosed spaces (claustrophobia), open spaces (agoraphobia), heights (acrophobia), technology (technophobia) and fear (phobophobia). (See ANXIETY, DESENSITIZATION, FEAR, SOCIAL ANXIETY) (MP)

PHOTOCHEMICAL SMOG is a major local or regionalized air pollution phenomenon characterized by oxidants, irritants, and visibility-obscuring particles occuring in urban areas where the combination of pollution-forming emissions, sulfur dioxide from vehicle exhaust for example, and atmospheric conditions are suitable for its formation. Photochemical smog is highly injurious to health and quality of life. Photochemical smog has a long history, for example, in 1542, Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo named San Pedro Bay in southern California "The Bay of Smokes" because of the heavy haze that covered the area (see NUCLEAR WINTER). (IP)

PHOTON: A quantum of electromagnetic radiation; the smallest indivisible unit, or "particle", of light, having zero charge and inertial mass. (See QUANTUM) (MP)

PHOTOSYNTHESIS literally "synthesis out of light" - metabolic processes carried out by green plants where water and carbon dioxide is synthesized to form oxygen and organic compounds such as ATP and glucose. The process is enabled by trapping the energy from sunlight. (See AUTOTROPHS, BIOGEOCHEMICAL CYCLE, RESPIRATION). (IP)

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