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UNESCO Bioethics Ireland: An overview

The UNESCO Chair in Bioethics (held by Prof. Amnon Carmi) was established in order to coordinate and stimulate an International Network of Institutes for Medical Ethics Training, associating higher education institutes in both developed and developing countries, and to develop an up-to-date syllabus for medical ethics education which will satisfy the requirements of medical schools in the world. Working through an international network of Regional and National Units, the Irish Unit was established in 2016 to be headed by Dr Oliver Feeney (NUIG) under the European Division of the UNESCO Chair in Bioethics.

In keeping with the UNESCO objectives, the Irish Unit 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. It will encourage and coordinate interdisciplinary research in topical bioethical issues as well as cataloging the current state-of-the-art of research in the Irish context. Such bioethical issues are varied and growing, including issues related to abortion, new reproductive technologies (e.g. pre-implantation genetic diagnosis, in-vitro fertilisation, surrogacy), new directions in genetics and stem-cell research and end of life issues (e.g. assisted suicide and emerging research on life extension).

Although the primary focus will be the higher education sector, this will extend to education at all levels as well as journalists, policy-makers, politicians and the general public. Throughout, the central work will be orientated by the Universal Declaration on Bioethics and Human Rights which UNESCO is committed to guide its application in a variety of socio-cultural-legal contexts. 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.

Upcoming event

Dr Oliver Feeney will be joining Dr Siobhán O’Sullivan (Chief Bioethics Officer, Dept. of Health), Dick Ahlstrom (author and former Science Editor of The Irish Times), Suzanne Campbell (author, journalist and reporter for RTE Radio) and Dr Derick Mitchell (Chief Executive of the Irish Platform for Patient Organisations, Science and Industry) on a discussion panel regarding the ethical issues to be considered in the context of emerging gene editing technologies. For more details, please go to:

Upcoming international event

banner_380x150px[1]The International Conference ‘Medical Review Auschwitz: Medicine Behind the Barbed Wire’ will take place on 9 May 2018 in Kraków, Poland. There are no registration fees for the conference but registeration is required due to limited availability. Please visit: for more information, including the program and accompanying events (a special visit to the Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial and Museum and to the Oskar Schindler’s Factory Museum).





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Header image: DNA by Caroline Davis2010 (some rights reserved: source here)