Seminars & Events


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


Wednesday 17 April 2019 at 10 AM

Fareed Awan, University of Minnesota

Connecting Exploitation and Injustice in Research Ethics

Exploitation is a central topic of biomedical ethics, but remains contentious. In this talk, I will present a relational account of exploitation, where the wrong of exploitation is defined as a failure of a relationship dynamics, contra views of exploitation that take maldistribution as the primary concern. My view is that corroding the ability to resist the causes of exploitation, namely oppression and degradation, is unjust, at least within the context of biomedical research, where power, knowledge, and authority imbalance is particularly ingrained. Research that (a) exploits or (b) corrodes the ability of vulnerable groups to avoid exploitation are both sources of injustice, even if the relationship is mutually beneficial and consensual.

PDF icon fareed_awan.pdf

Thursday 25 April 2019 at 4:30 PM

Book Launch of "Ethical Issues in Women;s Healthcare: Practice and Policy"

Edited by Lori d'Agincourt-Canning & Carolyn Ells

In the foyer of 3647 Peel Street

PDF icon carolyn_ells_3.pdf



Past Seminars

Tuesday, January 29 @ 2:15 PM

Saskia Hendriks, National Institutes of Health

Stem cell therapies for infertility and the importance of genetic parenthood

Emerging stem cell therapies may help increasing numbers of infertile couples become genetic parents. Considering the potential implications of such therapies, experts have called for a debate on responsible clinical introduction.

In order to summarize the current state of the field, Dr. Hendriks will provide an overview of the biological progress of the field as well as the results of a series of consultations with patients, physicians, and the general public. Topics cover patients’ interest, implications of potential clinical introduction, potential patient groups, and appropriate oversight.

Stem cell therapies for infertility are being developed under the presumption that patients value genetic parenthood. Based on a series of studies, Dr. Hendriks will show that although infertile patients do prefer genetic parenthood, long-term outcomes of non-genetic parenthood seem equal to genetic parenthood. Furthermore, patients may not value genetic parenthood enough to accept therapies with unfavourable risk-benefit profiles.

PDF icon saskia_hendriks.pdf

Friday, February 1st @ 3:15

Phoebe Friesen, University of Oxford

Is Schizophrenia Research Under Threat?: How funding structures and patient groups shape scientific knowledge

Two significant shifts are taking place within psychiatry. The first shift involves the replacement of the DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual) criteria with RDoC (Research Domain Criteria), in research funded by the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), the world’s largest funder of psychiatric research. Moving away from the discrete diagnostic categories of the DSM, RDoC prioritizes basic science research and refrains from drawing a line in advance between pathological and non-pathological experiences. The second shift has been taking place in schizophrenia research over several decades and involves the adoption of wider outcome measures related to quality of life in place of narrow measures such as symptom scales. This change is largely a result of the influence of patient groups. It is argued that this second shift has been successful in bringing to light several explanatory models of schizophrenia that are likely to bear fruit in terms of both understanding schizophrenia and developing tools and treatments for those living with the condition. In light of this, this presentation asks whether the shift to RDoC will threaten the gains associated with research related to quality of life in schizophrenia. In response, it is suggested there is both reason to be wary and reason to be hopeful when it comes to schizophrenia research and funding based on RDoC.

PDF icon phoebe_friesen.pdf

Tuesday, February 5th @ 3 PM

Madison Kilbride, University of Pennsylvania

The New Generation of Direct-to-Consumer Genetic Tests

Direct-to-consumer (DTC) genetic testing companies now offer tests that, until a few years ago, were only available in the clinical setting. For example, Color Genomics—one of the leading DTC testing companies—offers a test that analyzes sixty genes for mutations that are associated with an increased risk of cancer and cardiac disease. Modern DTC tests differ from earlier offerings along two key dimensions. First, they have more significant health implications. Whereas early tests focused on mutations that are only weakly correlated with diseases, current tests analyze genes for mutations that are associated with a high risk of disease. Second, modern tests are sold under an entirely new business model. On this new model, genetic tests are advertised to consumers but ordered by licensed physicians, in many cases by a company-provided contract physician who has no existing relationship with the individual seeking testing. In this talk, I address the potential risks associated with this new DTC testing model and explain how current practices contravene existing professional recommendations for genetic testing. I then consider the possibility that, insofar as current recommendations were developed for a clinical population, they may not be applicable to DTC users. I argue that, in order to assess the permissibility of these DTC practices, research is needed to study the outcomes of individuals undergoing DTC genetic tests for serious disease risks. I conclude by outlining my proposed research to evaluate whether the new generation of DTC genetic tests poses unacceptable risks to consumers.

PDF icon madison_kilbride.pdf

Friday, September 28

Mark J. Ratain, M.D., University of Chicago

Interventional Pharmacoeconomics: A Strategy to Reduce Prescribing Costs of Modern Cancer Therapeutics

Co-sponsored with the Lady Davis Institute Cancer Axis

Abortion Beyond Bounds: Self-Management and the Circulations of Knowledge, Technology and Care

Download abbposter.jpg (115.63 KB)

Ulf Schmidt, University of Kent
Co-sponsored with the Department of Social Studies of Medicine

Secret Science: A Century of Poison Warfare and Human Experiments

PDF iconulf_schmidt_3.pdf

Science and Skepticism: Critiquing Bad Research in an Anti-Science Era

If you missed the Science and Skepticism Symposium, you can watch the whole thing on Youtube:

A symposium sponsored by McGill University’s Biomedical Ethics Unit and Dept. of Epidemiology, Biostatistics, and Occupational Health

Monday, March 19, 2018; 1:00pm-4:00pm

McGill University Faculty Club, Billiard Room


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