Centre for Research Ethics & Bioethics (CRB)


ETHICS BLOG: Online research ethics: A pedagogic challenge

[2015-05-19] Researchers, scientists and professionals Stefan Erikssonwho are somehow involved in research, need to develop an ability to detect ethical problems. But we also need to learn how to do something about them. – How can we learn?

ETHICS BLOG: Risks are not just about numbers

[2015-05-12] On a daily basis, we are informed about risks. The media tell us that obesity Jessica Nihlén Fahlquistincreases the risk of cardiovascular diseases and that we can reduce the risk of Alzheimers by eating the right kind of food. We are confronted with the potential danger of nanoparticles and mobile phone radiation. Not to mention the never ending discussion about nuclear power. Some news are more serious than others, but we cannot avoid risk information as such.

ETHICS BLOG: Neuroethics: new wine in old bottles?

[2015-04-07] Neuroscience is increasingly raising philosophical, ethical, legal and social problems Michele Fariscoconcerning old issues which are now approached in a new way: consciousness, freedom, responsibility and self are today investigated in a new light by the so called neuroethics.

Neuroethics was conceived as a field deserving its own name at the beginning of the 21st century. Yet philosophy is much older, and its interest in “neuroethical” issues can be traced back to its very origins.

Find out what Michele Farisco and other writers have to say on the the Ethics Blog.

What it is like to be an animal

[2015-04-08] It is one thing to say that humans are animals, but a different one to actually say "I am an animal". What happens to us when we make this realization about ourselves?

Pär SegerdahlWhen the line between who is human and who is animal is blurred, we can experience a kind of metaphysical vertigo. In a recent article, Pär Segerdahl takes us on a philosophical exploration of the dizziness we experience when we talk about ourselves as animals. His starting point is a personal experience. Pär Segerdahl shares the dizziness he felt about his own humanness when an ape told him to be quiet and later called him a monster.

Data protection update – one step forward, two steps back?

[2015-02-24] The new European data protection regulation has moved through the administrative and political process last year. This spring, negotiations continue within the Council. Here, Anna-Sara Lind comments the process.

Anna-Sara LindThis autumn, the Council of the European Member States met continuously to discuss the European Commission's suggestions for a new Data protection regulation. The regulation will replace the old directive.

Teen mental health: Adults don't understand

[2015-02-19] Have you ever heard a teenager say you don't understand what he or she feels? It is probably true. A recent study shows that adults underestimate how feeling worried, sad or annoyed can impact a teenager’s mental health.  

Terry FlynnIt looks like there might be systematic differences in how adults and adolescents value different health states. A group of health economists and paediatricians recently published the results of an online survey in Health Economics.

Open MIND – access to the latest work in philosophy, cognition and neuroscience

[2015-01-22] An open access collection of the latest work in philosophy, cognitive science and neuroscience is now available online. Kathinka Evers from the Centre for Research Ethics and Bioethics (CRB) is one of the authors.

Kathinka EversIn her contribution, Kathinka Evers proposes the possibility of being epigenetically proactive. According to her, that means adapting our social structures to benefit, influence and interact with the neuronal architecture of our brains.

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Online training: Research ethics for medicine and the life sciences

Genetic risk: do people want to know?

[2015-05-04] Biobank studies and genetic research aim at finding out the relationship between our genetic code and our diseases. Sometimes researchers find unexpected information about a participant. Asking people if they want this kind of risk information returned to them seems like a good idea. But is it fair to leave them to make that decision?

Jennifer VibergEthicists, regulations and researchers have struggled with whether or not to disclose incidental findings. There has been a shift in the discussion on incidental findings. In recent years, the focus has shifted from discussing what kind of information researchers should give participants, to asking participants what they want to know. In a recent paper in Bioethics, researchers from the Centre for Research Ethics & Bioethics (CRB) claim that shifting the responsibility from researcher to participant comes with a number of problems. Read more

Regulating biobank research: new book

[2015-02-24] Biobank research and genomic information are changing the way we look at health and medicine. So how can we regulate it? A recent book published by Springer shows us how the regulatory systems work and raises a critical voice.

Deborah MascalzoniDeborah Mascalzoni is Senior Researcher at CRB and the editor of Ethics, Law and Governance of Biobanking that was recently published by Springer. According to her, we can't keep clinical applications and research separate anymore.

But when we start blurring the lines we start challenging existing regulations and ethical frameworks. The book gives an overview of the existing regulatory landscape for biobank research in the Western world. But it also raises some critique of how regulations and ethical frameworks are developed and work.

"There are many questions that still need resolving, for example how researchers should share samples and data across borders. But we also need to figure out some of the basics. Like how we design an ethical informed consent. These are some of the questions that this book addresses", Deborah Mascalzoni explains. Read more

Whole genome sequencing of newborns

[2015-04-23] It is faster and cheaper than ever to sequence a person’s entire genome. Perhaps genomic information could be useful for health care? Then it might be a good idea to sequence the whole population just after birth. Or is it?

Heidi C. HowardNewborns are already being screened for some conditions that require treatment from infancy, so perhaps whole genome sequencing of newborns is the next step? And if we think it is a good idea, we need to ask ourselves if we should use our publicly funded health care systems to pay for it.

A group of researchers from a number of influential organizations published a policy statement in the European Journal of Human Genetics recently. According to them, we shouldn’t sequence the entire genomes of newborn babies.  At least not right now. The primary reason for newborn screening should be targeted analysis and identification of gene variants that confer a high risk for conditions that we know to be either preventable or treatable: If we start treatment when the child is newborn. Or at least in early childhood.

Heidi C. Howard, geneticists and bioethicist from the Centre for Research Ethics & Bioethics (CRB) is one of the authors. According to her, it is too soon to conduct whole genome sequencing on newborns. But it is also a question of money. Read more

Meet a PhD Student: Michele Farisco

Contrasts between animals and humans

[2015-04-27] Philosophers often use the contrast between animals and humans as a rhetorical figure. It is easy to assume that this is because they are anthropocentric. But is this really why?

Pär SegerdahlPär Segerdahl has examined the tendency in philosophy to portray humans as positive beings that “have” some important capacity (like reason), while animals are portrayed as negative beings that “lack” what humans have. In a recent paper he tries to demonstrate that this schematic plus/minus opposition does not necessarily stem from anthropocentrism.

According to Pär Segerdahl, the contrast between animals and humans has a rhetorical function. Philosophers have ideals as thinkers. They have used the contrast to make people sensitive to those ideals. The philosophers write as educators of humankind. Read more

ETHICS BLOG: Where is consciousness?

[2015-05-26] Would it be possible to use brain imaging techniques to detect consciousness and then “read” directly in people’s brains what they want or do not want? Could one, for example, ask a severely brain injured patient for consent to some treatment, and then obtain an answer through a brain scan?

Michele FariscoTogether with the philosopher Kathinka Evers and the neuroscientist Steven Laureys, I recently investigated ethical and clinical issues arising from this prospective “cerebral communication.”

Our brains are so astonishingly complex! The challenge is how to handle this complexity. To do that we need to develop our conceptual apparatus and create what we would like to call a “fundamental” neuroethics. Sound research needs solid theory, and in line with this I would like to comment upon the conceptual underpinnings of this ongoing endeavor of developing a “fundamental” neuroethics. Read more

Want to hear more of what Michele Farisco and colleagues have to say? Visit the Ethics Blog!



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Facilitate deliberation. Towards a professionalization of the bioethical expert in the public arena

Virginia Sanchini, PhD Student, University of Milano
When: 10:30-12:00
Where: BMC, Öbrinkrummet

Public disseration defence: Participation in oncology trials
Tove Godskesen, RN, PhD Student
When: 09:15 
Where: BMC, A1:107a

Half time defence: How should incidental findings in biobank research and genome sequencing studies be handled?
Jennifer Viberg, PhD Student, CRB
When: 13:00-14.30
Where: BMC, Boströmrummet

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Newsletter on current issues in biobanks ethics and law

CRB's legal experts guide you through the recent implications and updates on biobank ethics and law. Number 3 was published in September 2014.

Books and reports

Most of our research is published in peer review articles and books, but we also publish the occasional project report or popular science book.

Want to visit CRB?

Our international profile has developed the last few years and we have decided to start welcoming visiting scholars for shorter or longer stays. Subject to external funding we offer office space, a dynamic and interesting research environment and extended international networks to senior researchers, post-docs and PhD students.

Rules and Guidelines for research

CODEX is a gateway to various research ethics guidelines. It is run in collaboration between CRB and the Swedish Research Council.


Our international research collaborations

CRB is part of several large international research collaborations. We work in several EU-projects with biobank and registry research. We are part of the EU Flagship Human Brain Project and other international collaborations on neuroethics. We are also active in working networks on family ethics and culture, health and bioethics.