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Seminars & Events



All lectures take place at 3647 Peel, Don Bates Seminar Room 101 until noted otherwise.



Studies of Translation, Ethics and Medicine (STREAM) Seminar

May 13th, 2016 - 10:00 AM

Adelaide Doussau de Bazignan, MD, PhD

"Is it ethically justified to increase the number of patients treated with experimental drugs in cancer placebo controlled trials?"


Controversy and dialogue about conscientious objection in Clinical care

Held Monday, April 14, 2014 Jeanne-Timmins amphitheatre, MNI. The event provided an opportunity to raise awareness and stimulate reflection of the controversial aspects of conscientious objection and how to manage such challenges. The format was engaging with a short presentation on basic concepts of conscientious objection by Gry Wester followed by 2 case study role-plays and panel discussions. Daniel Weinstock provided wrap-up reflections on the morning discussion.

We share Dr Gry Wester’s presentation slides  …conscientiousobjectionoverviewgrywesterapril2014.pdf

The conference objective is to raise awareness of the controversial aspects of conscientious objection and to engage clinicians in dialogue on how to approach and manage such challenges.


Managing morality at the bedside: the frustrations of virtue

Dr. Eugene Bereza, Biomedical Ethics Unit


Conscientious objection: basic concepts

Dr. Gry Wester, Institute for Health and Social Policy


A case of pediatric pitfalls

Dr. Stephen Liben, Director, Pediatric Palliative Care Program, Montreal Children’s Hospital.

Panel: Dr. Carolyn Ells, Biomedical Ethics Unit; Dr. Carolyn McLeod, University of Western Ontario; Lucie Wade, Jewish General Hospital




Thursday, May 29, 2014 at 12:00pm - 1:30PM

Charles Meredith House, 1130 Pine Avenue West 

Room 101 (wheelchair accessible)

Jonas-Sébastien Beaudry

Boulton Research and Teaching Fellow in the Faculty of Law (2013-2014)

“Beyond (Models of) Disability?”

The strategy of developing an ontology or models of disability as a prior step to settling ethical issues regarding disabilities is highly problematic, for two reasons. First, key definitional aspects of disability are normative, and cannot helpfully be made value-neutral. Second, if we accept that the contested concept of disability is value-laden, it is far from obvious that there are definitive reasons for opting for an interpretation of the concept over another. I conclude that the concept of disability is better left ethically open-ended or broad enough to encompass the examination of various ethical issues (such as oppression, minority rights or physical discomfort). Alternatively, the concept of disability could be altogether abandoned in order to focus on specific issues without being hindered by debates about the nature of disability. Only political costs, rather than conceptual considerations internal to the models, could be weighed against such a conclusion.

Jonas-Sébastien Beaudry, Boulton Research and Teaching Fellow in the Faculty of Law for 2013-2014, is interested in social justice, disability studies, and human rights. He received his DPhil from Oxford University. He continued his work on disability ethics as a Visiting Adjunct Professor in the Philosophy Department at San Francisco State University, and this topic is the subject of his teaching at McGill.


Friday, March 14, 2014 at 12:00pm - 1:30PM

Daniele Fanelli

Visiting Professor at the Université de Montréal

Beyond the funding effect - the many facets of bias and misconduct

Public discourse on scientific bias and fraud is dominated by concerns for the distorting effects of financial interests within biomedical research. Old philosophies and new evidence, however, suggest that the picture is broader and more complex. I will present and discuss data that points to other sources of scientific misconduct and research bias, the prevalence of which is likely to vary across disciplines and countries.



Thursday, January 17, 2013 at 13:30 - 15:00PM

Erik Parens

Senior Research Scholar

On What Neuroscience Can -- and Can't -- Teach Us about the Self

In 1994, Francis Crick announced his "Astonishing Hypothesis," that human beings are "no more than a vast assembly of nerve cells and their associated molecules." In my talk, I will explain what I take to be deeply right - and deeply wrong - about that claim. Further, I will suggest that if we can get better at remembering the respects in which his claim is right and wrong, we can perhaps become more humane toward others and humbler about ourselves.


FALL 2012

Friday, September 28, 2012 at 1:00PM - 2:30PM

Jim Lavery, MSc, PhD
Research Scientist, Centre for Research on Inner City Health, and Centre for Global Health Research, St. Michael's Hospital, Associate Professor in the Department of Public Health Sciences and Joint Centre for Bioethics at the University of Toronto

Why should we engage communities in global health research?

In vaccine trials, HIV prevention trials, the introduction of controversial new health technologies, such as genetically modified mosquitoes for the control of vector-borne diseases, and other types of global health research, it has become widely accepted that engaging the host communities matters ethically. Yet there are no clear accounts of why. In this seminar, I will draw on our recent and current work to propose an explanation. The proposal, which reflects an interests-based account of research ethics, also has implications for how "community" should be understood in the context of research, and therefore who should be engaged, and how. Using several case examples from own work, I will then briefly explore the possible implications of this analysis for research policy, research ethics guidance, and research practices in global health.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012 at 1:00PM - 2:30PM

Gail Geller, Sc.D., M.H.S.
Professor, Johns Hopkins University
Department of Medicine and Berman Institute of Bioethics

The Impact of Uncertainty in Medical Training and Practice

Gail Geller, Sc.D., M.H.S. is a Professor in the Department of Medicine at Johns Hopkins University with joint appointments in the Department of Pediatrics and the Bloomberg School of Public Health’s Departments of Health, Behavior & Society and Health Policy & Management. She is a core faculty member in the Berman Institute of Bioethics (BI) and served as Co-Deputy Director of the BI’s Greenwall Fellowship Program in Bioethics & Health Policy. She also oversees the “social, behavioral and ethical” strands in the undergraduate medical curriculum. Gail received her B.S. in human development & family studies from Cornell University and her doctorate from the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health with concentrations in bioethics and social & behavioral science.

Dr. Geller’s research interests have focused on clinician-patient communication and informed consent under conditions of uncertainty, professionalism and humanism in medical education, cross-cultural variation in concepts of health and disease, and clinician suffering and moral distress. She has explored these interests in a range of health care contexts in which uncertainty looms large, including genetics and genomics, complementary & alternative medicine, and palliative care.

Dr. Geller has served on the Board of Directors of the American Society for Bioethics & Humanities, and the IOM Committee on the Review of Omics-Based Tests for Predicting Patient Outcomes in Clinical Trials. She was a Consultant to the Ethics Working Group of the National Children’s Study, the Informed Consent Working Group of the Secretary’s Advisory Committee on Genetic Testing (SACGT), and the Presidential Advisory Committee on Human Radiation Experiments. She is a Fellow of the Hastings Center.