A lot of research goes towards medicines that prolong life in various ways. It's not too hard to agree on some of those efforts, such as trying to find a cure for Ebola
or other horrible diseases. But arguably, the quality of life should be considered when drastic medical procedures are about to be performed on patients with terminal illnesses. Not too many people want to be kept alive with machines without regard to the amount of pain and suffering that may accompany such a state. Here are just a few links about knowing when death will arrive.
If you'd like to read more awesome and interesting stuff, check out this unrelated (but not entirely random!) Techdirt post