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The role of Irish Bioethics: (re)building trust and reasonable discourse in medicine, science and technology

22 April 2021

If you missed our RIA Life and Medical Sciences Symposium on the need for a sustainable framework in Ireland for deliberating on bioethical responses you can watch it now.

The Life and Medical Sciences committee hosted a symposium entitled 'The role of Irish Bioethics: (re)building trust and reasonable discourse in medicine, science and technology’ online on Thursday 15 April.

This event brought together Irish bioethicists, academics, patient and industry representatives, policymakers and the public to discuss key bioethical questions facing Ireland at this time across three crucial contexts:

  • The public health response to the COVID-19 pandemic
  • The challenges and opportunities of genomic medicine
  • Trust in vaccines and vaccination programmes

Over the past year the challenges of the pandemic have precipitated major adaptation and innovation in public health responses, rapid scientific developments and an increased focus on scientific advice to government and public health communication. The relationships between science and society have undergone a transformation. Against this backdrop the event was a timely opportunity for public bioethical discourse in these fast-evolving areas and reflection on possible frameworks for deliberating on bioethical responses in Ireland.

Panel 1

Ethics and public health - from infectious diseases to pandemics: the case of Covid-19

Chair: Deirdre Madden, MRIA, Professor of Law at UCC and Deputy Chair of the HSE Board.


  • Ms Jacqui Browne, Disability equality activist and consultant
  • Professor Francesco Della Corte, Director of Centre of Research and education in Emergency and Disaster Medicine, Università del Piemonte Orientale
  • Professor Siobhan O'Sullivan, Chief Bioethics Officer, Department of Health
  • Dr Gabriel Scally, President of the Epidemiology and Public Health section, Royal Society of Medicine


  • Dr Louise Campbell (NUIG),Lecturer in Medical Ethics, NUI Galway
  • Professor Mary Horgan, Chair of the National Research Ethics Committee and President of the RCPI

Panel 2

New genomic opportunities and challenges in Ireland

Chair: Dr Derick Mitchell, Chief Executive of The Irish Platform for Patient Organisations, Science and Industry


  • Orla Hardiman, MRIA, Professor of Neurology and Head of the Academic Unit of Neurology, TCD and Consultant Neurologist at the National Neuroscience Centre of Ireland at Beaumont Hospital
  • Dr Heidi Howard, Senior Researcher at the Department of Public Health and Caring Sciences, Centre for Research Ethics & Bioethics, Lund University
  • Dr Sarah McLoughlin, Research Scientist at the School of Biology and Environmental Science, UCD
  • Professor Cathal Seoighe, Professor of Bioinformatics, NUI Galway, and Scientific Director of the SFI Centre for Research Training in Genomics Data Science


  • Professor Owen Smith, Professor of Paediatric and Adolescent Medicine, UCD, and Chief Academic Lead, UCD Children’s Hospital Group
  • Ms Lora Ruth Wogu, Chief Operations Officer, European Sickle Cell Federation and CEO/Patient Representative, Sickle Cell and Thalassaemia Ireland

Panel 3

Healthcare ethics, vaccines and public trust

Chair: Bert Rima, MRIA, Professor of Molecular Biology, QUB


  • Maria Baghramian, MRIA Professor of American Philosophy at UCD and member of the ALLEA Working Group on Trust and Expertise
  • Professor Sam McConkey, Associate Professor and Head of the Department of International Health and Tropical Medicine, RCSI
  • Kingston Mills, MRIA ,Professor of Experimental Immunology, School of Biochemistry and Immunology, TCD and Head of the Centre for the Study of Immunology at Trinity Biomedical Sciences Institute
  • Dr Dónal O'Mathúna, Associate Professor at the College of Nursing at Ohio State University and Founding Director Center for Disaster and Humanitarian Ethics


  • Dr Simon Mills, S.C., Barrister at Law, Irish Bar Council
  • Dr Nick Flynn, G.P., Senior partner at My Cork GP

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