CALL FOR PAPERS: Synthetic Biology for Human Health: Bioethics Special Issue

Guest Editors: Nikola Biller-Andorno, Ruud ter Meulen, Ainsley J Newson
Closing date for submissions: October 1st, 2012

The Editors of Bioethics are pleased to announce a special issue in 2013 on the ethical and policy issues in synthetic biology for human health.  Synthetic biology is an emerging field with important potential applications for human health, such as innovative drugs, new vaccines, tissue regeneration, or even synthetic cells.  Synthetic biology aims to be able to design, engineer and build biological systems that do not occur in nature as well as re-engineer systems that already exist.  This raises fundamental ethical questions about the moral status of life, the conceptualization of risks and benefits as well as possible implications for future people.  Questions also arise about how we should approach these ethical issues and the moral grounding which ought to guide policy and regulatory issues in this area.

We invite submissions on all aspects of this topic. Questions include but are not limited to:

  • Is there anything inherently morally objectionable in creating or (re-)designing life?
  • What are appropriate methodological paradigms for ethical debates over synthetic biology for human health?
  • What questions does synthetic biology for human health pose with regards to justice
  • When should we consider the risks that may arise in the development of synthetic biology applications for human health as morally justifiable to take
  • How should we interpret contested concepts important to normative thinking about synthetic biology and human health? (e.g. life, risk, public interest, health and dignity).
  • What should be the moral grounds for any specific regulation of synthetic biology research and applications to human health?

The editors welcome early discussion of brief proposals and/or abstracts by email to:

Upon submission authors should include full contact details and a few lines of biographical information in a separate electronic file.  We discourage papers of more than 5,000 words.

For further submission requirements, format and referencing style, refer to the Author Guidelines on the Bioethics website:

Manuscripts should be submitted to Bioethics online at

Please ensure that you select manuscript type ‘Special Issue’ and state that it is for the “Synbio”, Special Issue when prompted.