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Feeney photoDr Oliver Feeney

Head, Irish Unit of the UNESCO Chair in Bioethics, Centre of Bioethical Research & Analysis, NUI Galway.


Dr Oliver Feeney is the head of the Irish Unit of the UNESCO Chair in Bioethics (Haifa) based in the Centre of Bioethical Research and Analysis (COBRA), NUI Galway. In keeping with the UNESCO objectives, the Irish Unit seeks to promote and develop bioethics education and encourage and coordinate interdisciplinary research in topical bioethical issues facing Ireland, Europe and the world. Dr Feeney gained his PhD in political theory and bioethics from NUI Galway under the supervision of Dr Pete Morriss and the thesis was the winner of the 2009 Basil Chubb Prize. His primary research is on the ethical, legal and social justice implications of new biotechnologies, esp. genome editing in humans; human enhancement technologies; Biotech patents, ethical licencing and novel regulation of new technologies; Deliberative engagement and building trust in science and medicine (e.g. future technologies, genome editing, vaccines); ELSI analysis of migrant-centred electronic health records; New challenges in healthcare ethics – bridging theory and practice; and Non-ideal theories of distributive justice and multidisciplinary approaches. Between 2013 and 2017, he was a Management Committee member of COST Action IS1303 (CHIP ME) and served as Chair and Vice-Chair to one of the Action’s three Working Groups. In 2016, he was appointed as Head of Ireland’s Unit of the International Network of the UNESCO Chair in Bioethics and, in 2017, he was appointed as Vice-Chair for Research for the European Division of the UNESCO Chair in Bioethics. In 2016, he was also appointed as Vice-Chair of UNESCO Chair in Bioethics International Research Group ‘Bioethics and human rights, forced displacement in conflict scenarios’. Since September 2018, he has been member and secretary of the Royal Irish Academy’s Life and Medical Sciences Committee. Over 2019-2020, he contributed to the work of two H2020-funded European projects – SIENNA (Genomics) (under Heidi C. Howard) and Participatory Approaches to a New Ethical and Legal Framework for ICT (under Iñigo de Miguel Beriain) in addition to various UNESCO-based collaborations. Over the past number of years, he has lectured and researched throughout Ireland and Europe, has taken part in more than 40 talks, panel discussion and/or conference presentations, while being interviewed by national and international radio and national print media (RTE Radio 1 Drivetime, BBC Ulster Radio, The Medical Independent and The Irish Times). He is currently finishing a monograph on the evolution of the normative debate from recombinant DNA to CRISPR-Cas9.

Publications (last three years & forthcoming):

‘CRISPR-Cas9 Gene editing, genetic pluralism and ‘disenhancement’: the implicit Non-Identity condition’ [first author] with Vojin Rakic (Under review with Humanities and Social Sciences Communications).

‘Genetics and Justice, Non-ideal Theory and the Role of Patents: The Case of CIRSPR-Cas9’ [sole author] in Timo Minssen, Ana Nordberg & Jakob Wested (eds.) Synthetic Biology and Gene Editing: Legal Implications on a Social and Ethical Context. (Edward Elgar Publishing) (Accepted and forthcoming 2020/2021)

‘eHealth responses to crisis migration: some ELSI considerations’ [first author] with Gabriele Werner-Felmayer, Helena Siipi, Markus Frischhut, Silvia Zullo, Ursela Barteczko, Lars Øystein Ursin, Shai Linn, Heike Felzmann, Dušanka Krajnović, John Saunders, and Vojin Rakić. (for Eduardo Rueda, Juan Jorge Michel Fariña and Andrea Hellemeyer (eds) Bioethics and Human Rights – Accepted and forthcoming – 2020)

‘An EU comparative analysis of the regulation of clinical trials supervisory bodies in the aftermath of Regulation 536/2014’, Iñigo de Miguel Beriain, Theodora Chortara, Aliuska Duardo-Sánchez, Oliver Feeney, Heike Felzmann, Emma Fernández de Uzquiano, Elisa Lievevrouw, Luca Marelli, Titti Mattsson, Janne Rothmar Herrmann, Timo Minssen, Elisabetta Pulice, Vera Lúcia Raposo, Jürgen Robienski, Simone Penasa, Ine Van Hoyweghen. European Public Law 26(2), 307 – 330 (2020): [ISSN 1354-3725:

‘European electronic Personal Health Records initiatives and vulnerable migrants: a need for greater ELSI safeguards’, [first author] with Gabriele Werner-Felmayer, Helena Siipi, Markus Frischhut, Silvia Zullo, Ursela Barteczko, Lars Øystein Ursin, Shai Linn, Heike Felzmann, Dušanka Krajnović, John Saunders, and Vojin Rakić. Developing World Bioethics 20(1), 27-37 (March 2020):

‘Regulating germline editing in assisted reproductive technology: An EU cross-disciplinary perspective’, Ana Nordberg, Timo Minssen, Oliver Feeney, Iñigo de Miguel Beriain, Lucia Galvani, Kirmo Wartiovaara. Bioethics 34(1), 16-32 (January 2020):

‘Editing the gene-editing debate: re-assessing the normative discussions on emerging genetic technologies’ [sole author] NanoEthics: Studies of New and Emerging Technologies 13(3), 233-243 (December 2019):

‘Response to Open Peer Commentaries on “Patenting Foundational Technologies: Lessons From CRISPR and Other Core Biotechnologies”’, [first author] with Julian Cockbain, Michael Morrisson, Lisa Diependaele, Kristof Van Assche & Sigrid Sterckx The American Journal of Bioethics, 19(1) (January 2019), The American Journal of Bioethics, 19:1, W10-W13:

‘Commentary: enlightened democracy in practice’ [sole author] Cambridge Quarterly of Healthcare Ethics Vol. 28, No. 1 (January 2019), 89-92:

‘Patenting foundational technologies: Lessons from CRISPR and other core biotechnologies’, [first author] with Julian Cockbain, Michael Morrisson, Lisa Diependaele, Kristof Van Assche & Sigrid Sterckx The American Journal of Bioethics, 18(12) (December 2018), 36-48:

‘Perceptions of Students in Health and Molecular Life Sciences regarding Pharmacogenomics and Personalized Medicine’, Lejla Mahmutovic, Betul Akcesme, Camil Durakovic, Faruk Berat Akcesme, Aida Maric, Muhamed Adilovic, Nour Hamad, Matthias Wjst, Oliver Feeney and Sabina Semiz, Human Genomics, 12(50) (November 2018):

‘Genuine participation in participant-centred research initiatives: the rhetoric and the potential reality’ [first author] with Pascal Borry, Heike Felzmann, Lucia Galvagni, Ari Haukkala, Salvör Nordal, Vojin Rakić, Brígida Riso, Sigrid Sterckx and Danya Vears. Special Issue of Journal of Community Genetics Vol. 9, No. 2 (April 2018), 133-142:

‘The challenges of the expanded availability of genomic information. An agenda-setting paper’ Pascal Borry, Heidi Beate Bentzen, Isabelle Budin-Ljøsne, Martina C. Cornel, Heidi Carmen Howard, Oliver Feeney, Leigh Jackson, Jane Kaye, Deborah Mascalzoni, Alvaro Mendes, Salvor Nordal, Borut Peterlin, Emmanuelle Rial-Sebbag, Brigida Riso, Mahsa Shabani, Heather Skirton, Sigrid Sterckx, Danya Vears, Matthias Wjst and Heike Felzmann. Special Issue of Journal of Community Genetics, Vol. 9, No. 2 (April 2018), 103-116:

‘Response to Nuffield Council on Bioethics’ Genome editing and human reproduction: open call for evidence’ [response co-ordinator and contributor] with Ana Nordberg, Timo Minssen, Iñigo de Miguel Beriain, Kirmo Wartiovaara and Lucia Galvagni (Contribution acknowledged in the 2018 Nuffield Report on Genome editing and human reproduction: social and ethical issues). Available at:

‘The ethics of gene editing’, RTÉ Brainstorm (November, 2017) [Raidió Teilifís Éireann – Irish national public service broadcaster]. Available at:

‘Egalitarianism and the Parfitian Equality-Priority Framework’ [Spanish title: El igualitarismo según Derek Parfit: Una discusión] [sole author] Aesthetika: international journal of interdisciplinary research on subjectivity, politics and art Vol. 13, No. 2 (Sept. 2017), 65-75 ISSN 1553-5053. Available at:

For full list of publications, see:

Academia page

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For related-work in the Royal Irish Academy’s Life and Medical Sciences Committee, see here (RIA biography here)

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Dr Heike Felzmann

Co-Director of the Centre of Bioethical Research and Analysis (COBRA), National University of Ireland (Galway): Host Centre for the Irish Unit.
Vice-Chair of Irish Steering Group.

Dr Heike Felzmann is lecturer in Philosophy/Ethics in the discipline of Philosophy at the School of Humanities, NUI Galway and Co-Director of the Centre of Bioethical Research and Analysis (COBRA) at NUIG. Her area of specialisation is Bioethics, with focus on research ethics, health care ethics and most recently information ethics. She also works in moral theory, with focus on theory in/of Bioethics and has an interest in feminist ethics.
Dr Felzmann is currently involved in a number of European projects:  as Action Chair of the COST Action (CHIPME, IS1303) on Citizen’s Health through public-private Initiatives: Public health, Market and Ethical perspectives, as leader of ethics deliverables in a H2020 project (MARIO) on assistive robotics for elderly with dementia and as subject expert in research ethics on a capacity building project (UNIVERSITARIA) for Romanian Universities. She is also part of  a HEA funded project on digitally mediated interprofessional learning (IPL) in health care.

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Irish Unit Steering Committee

The Steering Committee is a multi-disciplinary team of researchers and practitioners who have expertise in bioethics, law, philosophy, education, religious studies, ethics and social justice.

  • Dr Oliver Feeney (COBRA, NUIG) – Chair
  • Dr Heike Felzmann (COBRA, NUIG) – Vice-Chair
  • Dr Dónal O’Mathúna (DCU)
  • Professor Deirdre Madden (UCC)
  • Professor Andrew Green (UCD; National Centre for Medical Genetics)
  • Professor David Smith (Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland)
  • Dr Louise Campbell (School of Medicine, NUIG)
  • Dr Gemma Moore (HSE)
  • Dr Tom Walker (QUB)
  • Dr Richard Hull (COBRA, NUIG)
  • Dr Vesna Malesevic (Political Science & Sociology, NUIG)
  • Dr Peter Morriss (Political Science & Sociology, NUIG)

The Committee will have regular meetings and discussions on the policy of the Irish Unit and the planning of its projects.

The Irish Unit is a member of the European Division of the UNESCO Chair in Bioethics.

The Irish Unit was established under the European Division of the UNESCO Chair in Bioethics (comprising 40+ European National Units) headed by Professor Vojin Rakić and seated in the Center for the Study of Bioethics (Belgrade). Prof. Rakić is the Founding Director of the Center for the Study of Bioethics, Head of the Serbian Unit of the UNESCO Chair in Bioethics and Chair of the Cambridge Working Group for Bioethics Education in Serbia. He has a PhD in Political Science from Rutgers University in the United States (1998) and was a senior research fellow at the Center for Higher Education Policy Studies at the University of Twente in the Netherlands (1999-2001). Between 2001 and 2003 he was a U.N. Special Adviser to the Government of Serbia and, since 2003, he works as a university professor in Belgrade. His publications focus upon bioethics and political philosophy (with articles in the Journal of Medical Ethics, American Journal of Bioethics, Cambridge Quarterly of Health Care Ethics, American Journal of Bioethics: Neuroscience, and Medicine, Health Care and Philosophy).

Council of the European Division of the UNESCO Chair in Bioethics.

The Council is a coordinating and research-orientated sub-unit of the European Division, headed by Professor Vojin Rakić and its members include UNESCO unit heads from Ireland (Dr Oliver Feeney),  Finland (Dr Susanne Uusitalo), United Kingdom (Baroness Ilora Finlay & Professor John Sanders), Austria (Professor Gabriele Werner Felmayer), Belgium (Professor Sigrid Sterckx), and Iceland (Dr Salvör Nordal).

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