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Otago bioethics conference to tackle “New Questions, New Answers”

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Wednesday 22 January 2014 4:39pm

Around 120 delegates from New Zealand and overseas are set to explore important and emerging issues at a major bioethics conference to be held at the University of Otago this weekend.

John-McMillan-imageProfessor John McMillan

The gathering, organised by the University’s Bioethics Centre, is titled “New Questions, New Answers”, and features a high-powered line up of national and international speakers.

Among the topics being explored at the conference, which runs from Friday 24 to Sunday 26 January at the Hunter Centre in Dunedin, are issues surrounding clinical consultation; clinical ethics and children; environmental ethics; ethics and the brain; primary care ethics; and methodology and bioethics.

Professor Alastair Campbell of the National University of Singapore, who led the Otago Bioethics Centre from 1990-96, is returning to give the introductory talk at the conference.

The conference includes two public lectures; one on the relationship between bioethics and human rights, which will be given by Professor John Arras of the University of Virginia, and another on biodiversity and the cost of extinction to be delivered by Professor James Maclaurin of the Otago Department of Philosophy. The first lecture will be held 5pm Friday in the Hunter Centre Atrium and the latter at 4.50 pm the following day at the same venue.

Around 60 presentations will be given at the conference, covering topics ranging from the ethics of selling kits for children to create live ‘cyborg’ cockroaches they can control with smartphones to whether all New Zealanders should have their DNA held on file in a universal forensic database. Issues such as banning direct-to-consumer drug advertising and the ethics of fluoridation will also be explored in other talks.

As well as public lectures, the other keynote speakers and topics are:

  • Dr Lynley Anderson (Bioethics Centre, University of Otago) on “Incidental findings in surgery”
  • Professor Dirk De Ridder (Surgical Sciences, University of Otago) on “Increasing free will by psychosurgery?”
  • Associate Professor Lynn Gillam (Royal Children’s Hospital and University of Melbourne) on “When parents and doctors disagree about medical treatment for a child: the ethics of decision-making”
  • Associate Professor Andrew Moore (Philosophy, University of Otago) on “Good methods for doing ethics”
  • Professor Julian Savulescu (University of Oxford) on “Freewill and moral enhancement”
  • Dr Hamish Wilson (General Practice and Rural Health, University of Otago) on “The challenge of whole person care”

Bioethics Centre Director Professor John McMillan says the conference provides a unique forum where researchers, ethicists, government officials and health practitioners can come together to debate and discuss thorny ethical questions in their fields.

For more information, contact:

Professor John McMillan
Director, Bioethics Centre
Tel 64 3 471 6135

Sally Boult
Conference organiser
Events 4 You
Tel 64 3 487 6622

About the University of Otago Bioethics Centre:

Established in 1988, the University of Otago Bioethics Centre recently celebrated its 25th anniversary. It was created in response to growing awareness of new ethical issues relating to law, medicine and technology; issues which touch the lives of everyone. The Centre’s role is to conduct and co-ordinate teaching and research, to stimulate informed public debate, and to provide a consultation and resource service for health professionals and others in the community.

A list of Otago experts available for media comment is available elsewhere on this website.

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