News: Nuffield Council on Bioethics update

6 May 2016

May 2016 updates from the Nuffield Council on Bioethics:

Conference: Institute of Medical Ethics

28 April 2016

June 18th, 2016, Edinburgh, UK.
The conference is a one-day event, designed to give opportunities for academics, clinicians and students involved in biomedical ethics research to present their current work. We have the pleasure to announce that our keynote speakers for the 2016 edition will be  Ilina Singh, Professor of Neuroscience & Society at Oxford, and Richard Ashcroft, Professor of Bioethics at Queen Mary University.
Among the panelists at the conference we are delighted to announce that Julian SavulescuBettina Schmietow and Sarah Norcross will also be speaking in their respective roles as Editor of the Journal of Medical Ethics, Research Officer at the Nuffield Council and Director of Progress Educational Trust.
Delegate fees for the conference will be:
IME members; £25
Non-members; £55
Students; £15
Conference Venue:
The Royal Scots Club
29-31 Abercrombie Place
For further information please contact: Dr. Carwyn Rhys Hooper, Chair of the IME Research Committee and Senior Lecturer in Medical Ethics and Law, St George’s, University of London 
Follow IME on twitter for updates and news:

Symposium: Self-Knowledge In and Out of Illness

28 April 2016

3rd May, 9:00-5:30, with a reception to follow, Greenwood Lecture Theatre, Guy’s Campus, King’s College London.

4th May, 9:00-5:00, Harris Lecture Theatre, Hodgkin Building, Guy’s Campus, King’s College London.

Knowledge of oneself — skin, breasts, blood sugar, oxygen saturation, genetic profile, heart rate, weight, state of mind — plays an increasing role in health care as patients are encouraged to take charge of their own health. Self-knowledge can be useful, worthless, or even detrimental. How do we get self-knowledge? How do we learn to use it and what are the obstacles? We may use self-knowledge to avoid or treat illness, but can illness also teach us about ourselves?

Further information here.

The event is free, no registration, and everyone is welcome.


Seminar: The revolution of adult longevity

3 March 2016

March 16th, 2016, 3.30pm to 4.30pm in the 32 Lincoln’s Inn Fields Building, room G.24 (ground floor), London School of Economics.

The first seminar in a new series from the London School of Economics ALPHA research unit and the Institute of Gerontology and Department of Social science, Health and Medicine at King’s College London.

Speaker: Prof. Jean-Marie Robine, INSERM / Ecole pratique des hautes études.

Abstract: This seminar will discuss the current adult longevity revolution. The number of centenarians is doubling on average every ten years in developed countries, introducing a “fourth age group” and fundamentally changing the age distribution of OECD populations. What should we assume in our models for future life expectancy? Are there limits to growing older and if so where would they be?  Jean-Marie Robine will discuss the consequences and the dynamics of the emergence of new age groups and how this will affect societies which have traditionally been organized in three age groups (young people, working age people and the elderly people). What does ageing well mean in this context? Policy makers and researchers need to consider that the ageing process differs between men and women, between socio-economic groups and by other individual characteristics. Another challenge is to find ways to ensure that longer lives are not increasingly spent in bad health and disability. The seminar will also explore what a society based on four age groups could look like.

Jean-Marie Robine is  Research Professor at INSERM, the French National Institute of Health and Medical Research (, within the CERMES Research group in Paris and Unit 1198 in Montpellier where he heads the research team Biodemography of longevity and vitality. He is also a Professor at the advanced school Ecole pratique des hautes études ( in Paris. He is a leading demographer in the study of human longevity and the relationships between health and longevity. His research explores the impact that the increase in adult life durations may have on the health status of older populations. Prof. Robine has been instrumental in organising international efforts to study supercentenarian  and he is founder of the International Database on Longevity. He currently hosts the largest European supercentenarian dataset. He is coordinator of the International Network on Health Expectancy (REVES), which brings together more than 100 researchers worldwide ( He has been Principal Investigator in many international collaborative projects on life expectancies and he has more than 200 publications in peer-reviewed journals.

For enquires, please contact Emilie Courtin ( or Mauricio Avendano (

Briefing note: Zika – ethical considerations

1 March 2016

From the Nuffield Council on Bioethics Newsletter (March 2016):

The Council has published a briefing note on the ethics of public health interventions to manage infectious disease, with a particular focus on the current Zika epidemic.

The briefing note draws on previously published Council reports on public health ethicsresearch in developing countriessolidaritybiological and health data and the regulation of emerging biotechnologies.

The note was highlighted in a one-off evidence session held as part of the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee’s Zika Virus inquiry.

Lecture: Reproductive Labour – Exceptional for Whom? Notes from Mumbai

29 February 2016

Tuesday 22 March 2016, 18.30

Edmond J Safra Lecture Theatre, Ground Floor, King’s Building, Strand Campus

Wine reception to follow: Chapters, 2nd Floor, King’s Building, Strand Campus

In this lecture Professor Parry examines the recent expansion of commercial assisted reproductive services in India. In a country as populous as India it is surprising to note that the provision of such services to those who are unable to have children without such assistance had grown exponentially over the past decade with the number of clinics more than doubling over the past three years.  This expansion has been accompanied by a similarly explosive growth in populist narratives that assert that one of the services offered by such clinics, gestational surrogacy, in which usually poor women are paid to carry a foetus to term, is a form of labour that is exceptional(ly)exploitative and should thus be banned. Although superficially compelling, such arguments have only rarely been subject to critical review. Utilising insights from anthropology, the history of science and law Professor Parry takes up the challenge of  unpacking and complicating this narrative by posing the question “reproductive labour: exceptional for whom?”

In dissecting this argument she raises a number of queries: How and in what ways is reproductive labour distinguished from other forms of bodily or affective labour? What racial or gender dynamics have led Indian reproductive labourers to be so maligned and how might their work be more productively conceptualised? What role can regulation perform in this context and what might it hope to achieve? Bringing to bear the findings of her extended fieldwork in Mumbai and Jaipur she argues that such practices cannot be adjudged by simply applying universal ethical principles and norms, but must, rather, be assessed through nuanced conceptualisation based on grounded empirical research that takes account of the complexity of the lived experience of all the participants placed in their sociological and geographical contexts.

All are welcome. Register for this lecture here:  Bronwyn Parry Inaugural Lecture

Lecture: Pain – survival, science and suffering

29 February 2016

10 March 2016 – 18:30-20:00

K2.31, King’s Building, Strand, King’s College London

Lecture: Emma Briggs, Florence Nightingale Faculty of Nursing and Midwifery, KCL
Comment: Shawn Vigil, Philosophy, KCL

Our understanding of the nature, mechanisms and meaning of pain has evolved significantly over the last century but its complexity still presents many clinical, ethical and philosophical challenges. Pain is widespread; a universal human experience and the most frequent reason people seek healthcare. Pain has a demonstrable impact on the individual, the family and health and social care systems. This presentation sets the scene for the discussion by exploring the impact and role of pain and the unpredictable relationship between the science and suffering.

All are welcome, no registration. Further details here.


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