Symposium to focus on Irish bioethics to mark World Bioethics Day 19 October, 2016

Oct 10 2016 Posted: 11:01 IST

UNESCO Bioethics Ireland established at NUI Galway

As part of a series of international events marking ‘World Bioethics Day’ on 19 October 2016 a one-day symposium is taking place at NUI Galway.

The event is being organised by UNESCO Bioethics Ireland, which has been established with approval by the UNESCO Chair in Bioethics, the international network of academics engaged with the issue.

Dr Oliver Feeney, of NUI Galway’s Centre of Bioethical Research and Analysis (COBRA), is heading up the newly formed UNESCO Bioethics Ireland. “In keeping with the objectives of the UNESCO Chair in Bioethics, the core aims of the Irish unit will be to promote bioethics education and research on key bioethical issues in the Irish context.

Bioethics is a field of multidisciplinary study concerned with the ethical, legal and social implications of biological and medical interventions, research in the human sciences, new biotechnologies, and healthcare practices.  Such bioethical issues can include new reproductive technologies (e.g. IVF, surrogacy), new directions in genetics and stem-cell research and end of life issues (e.g. assisted suicide) as well as issues related to fair resource allocation in healthcare.”

The planned events worldwide on ‘World Bioethics Day’ are to mark the adoption of the Universal Declaration on Bioethics and Human Rights by the 33rd Session of the General Conference of UNESCO on the 19 October 2005.

The Irish symposium will look at themes including:

  • The role of the National Advisory Committee on Bioethics: current challenges in the Irish context.
  • Bioethics in Northern Ireland: possible implications of Brexit on research and regulation on the island of Ireland.
  • Training needs for research ethics committees.
  • Ethical governance in healthcare.
  • The Cultural Context of Developing Science Policy; Embryonic Stem Cell Research in Ireland.
  • The Assisted Dying debate and the Marie Fleming case.
  • Genetics and society: ethics, justice and changing beliefs.
  • On human enhancement.

The event will be opened by Professor Pat Dolan (UNESCO Chair in Children, Youth and Civic Engagement, NUI Galway) and speakers will include: Professor David Smith (RCSI), Dr Tom Walker (Queens University Belfast), Dr Heike Felzmann (NUI Galway), Dr Louise Campbell (NUI Galway and Clinical Ethics Ireland), Dr Gemma Moore (HSE), Annie McKeown O’Donovan (NUI Galway), Dr John Danaher (NUI Galway) and Dr Oliver Feeney (NUI Galway).

Through this and other events, UNESCO Bioethics Ireland seeks to foster a sustained, positive engagement between academia, medical and scientific research professions and the wider public and to raise awareness and knowledge throughout Irish society on key bioethical debates.

The symposium will take place in Seminar Room 203 (the original Moore Institute seminar room located near the Geography department), NUI Galway from 10am to 4.15pm and will be open to all. The full programme is available here

Registration for the symposium is free, but numbers are limited, so those interested in attending should go to or contact

The event is supported by NUI Galway’s Centre of Bioethical Research and Analysis, Department of Philosophy and Moore Institute.


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