NUI Galway to Host UNESCO Bioethics Ireland Public Lecture on Humanitarian Work and Research Ethics

Dr Dónal O’Mathúna, Senior Lecturer in Ethics, Decision-Making and Evidence at the School of Nursing and Human Sciences, DCU. Photo: DCU
May 18 2017 Posted: 16:17 IST

NUI Galway will host a public lecture entitled, ‘Evidence-based humanitarian work and research ethics’, presented by Dr Dónal O'Mathúna from DCU on Thursday, 25 May. Dr O’ Mathúna is a Senior Lecturer in Ethics, Decision-Making and Evidence at the School of Nursing and Human Sciences in DCU, Director of the Center for Disaster and Humanitarian Ethics, Chair of the Disaster Bioethics COST Action and Convenor for Cochrane Ireland.*

The public lecture will focus on how humanitarian work and disaster responses are increasingly encouraged to be evidence-based and, as a consequence, more research and other evidence-generation activities are being conducted in disaster and humanitarian settings. This has led attention to the ethical issues in such research, and how they should be addressed. Questions have been raised about whether current research ethics governance is suitable for such research. Dr Dónal O’Mathúna will discuss these trends and report on initiatives he is involved with that attempt to facilitate appropriate research ethics engagement in disaster and humanitarian research.

The event is organised by UNESCO Bioethics Ireland, based in the Centre of Bioethical Research and Analysis at NUI Galway, and the NUI Galway Research Ethics Committee. UNESCO Bioethics Ireland is the recently established Irish Unit of the UNESCO Chair in Bioethics, held by Professor Amnon Carmi and under the European Division of the International Network of the UNESCO Chair in Bioethics.

UNESCO Bioethics Ireland at NUI Galway focuses on key concerns that include issues of safeguarding human well-being, ensuring fairness, safeguarding personal information and privacy, preventing harm, deeper questions of legitimate reach of biomedical intervention in shaping human beings in arguably new ways. Pressing issues include the regulation of development and research of new biomedical treatments and interventions; regulation of choosing traits for future offspring (via pre-implantation genetic diagnosis) - and who should decide; new developments in gene editing and assessing emerging international responses; ongoing issues in terms of surrogacy, the future of embryonic stem cell research, abortion, online security of sensitive personal health information, changing conceptions of traditional notions such as the family, genetic information, incidental findings and the rights to know and not to know, issues of asymptomatic conditions and the potential for discrimination in employment and insurance.

Dr Oliver Feeney, Head of the Irish Unit at NUI Galway, said: “The initiative will promote excellence in bioethics education and reflection on future bioethical directions, particularly with regard to ethical questions raised by new biotechnologies and its implications for society. UNESCO Bioethics Ireland will encourage and help coordinate interdisciplinary research in topical bioethical issues as well as cataloguing the current state-of-the-art of research in the Irish context. In its work, the Irish Unit will seek to reduce the distance between bioethical, medical and scientific experts and the wider society, and will seek to foster greater understanding and clarity on these pressing questions of our time.”

In addition to the public lecture, there will also be a roundtable workshop earlier in the day from 2pm-3.30pm featuring a mix of presentations and discussions to exchange information from the participants’ bioethical-related work and on the needs of the bioethics community in Ireland.

The public lecture will take place from 5pm-6pm on Thursday, 25 May in the Bridge Room 1001, First Floor, Hardiman Research Building and will be followed by a drinks reception. Attendance is free and no registration is required.

The roundtable workshop will take place in Room AM205 in the Hardiman Research Building. If you would like to attend this event, please contact

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