Policy, Ethics and Life Sciences Research Centre

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PEALS strong presence at the World Congress of Bioethics in Bangalore

The World Congress of Bioethics (WCB) is the main gathering of the membership of the International Association of Bioethics, held every two years along with associated satellite congresses.

In December 2018 around 700 delegates assembled for the 14th WCB at St John’s Medical College, Bangalore, India, and PEALS had a particularly strong presence as individual researchers and as a research centre.

Executive Director Jackie Leach Scully arrived early for the two day meeting of the Feminist Approaches to Bioethics Network (FAB) which traditionally precedes the WCB. On Tuesday 4 December Jackie gave a plenary talk entitled “On strange ground: biomedical transformation, narrative suppression and identity” in the morning, and in the afternoon she spoke again on “Responding to disability in global health emergencies” as part of the Vulnerability and Justice in Global Health Emergencies research project, funded by the Wellcome Trust and based in Edinburgh University.  Meanwhile Simon Woods gave a parallel session paper in which he explored some of the findings from the Art, Authenticity and Citizenship in Care Homes project. Simon focussed on the concept of ‘authenticity’ and explored the potential of a feminist inspired ‘relational’ interpretation of the concept.  

The WCB itself got underway on Wednesday after a crossover morning session jointly with FAB.  Jackie joined again with other members of the Vulnerability and Justice in Global Health Emergencies to present in a panel on Wednesday afternoon, as well as enjoying an evening performance of classical Indian dance. Also on the first day, PEALS Visiting Researcher Vibeke Graven reported on her work with a presentation entitled “Total pain in hospice practice: ethical challenges.” On day two, 6 December, Simon gave a talk based on his involvement, together with Ken Taylor, in Newcastle University’s Portabolomics project. “Portabolomics and responsible innovation: Challenging potential inequalities of opportunity in benefitting from synthetic biology” raised a number of important societal issues from a socio-ethics perspective.

On Friday morning a PEALS20 panel was held, as part of a series of key presentations marking our 20th anniversary in 2019. This panel, on Genomic Empowerment, brought together our longstanding core research interests in patient/public engagement, and genomics. The talk by Research Associate Matthias Wienroth, “Patients & publics as asset? Valuation processes in recent NIHR clinical research recruitment campaigns”, presented ongoing research on clinical research valuation practices. In his presentation Matthias analysed campaigns since 2015 aiming to recruit patients and publics into clinical research against the backdrop of contemporaneous UK health policy discourse focused on innovation, growth, and ‘health and wealth’.

The location of the WCB in Bangalore meant that many more researchers and practitioners from India and South East Asia were able to attend than is usual. The PEALS team highly valued the opportunity to meet and talk with researchers about different perspectives, and also common areas of interest.

published on: 18 March 2019