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.

WORKSHOP – Teleological Organisation: Organisms, Ecosystems, and Artifacts

University of Copenhagen, August 23-24, 2012

Rapid progress in fields such as synthetic biology, genetic engineering, nanotechnology, and environmental engineering are expected to result in a historical increase in the ability of humans to understand and intervene in human nature and the natural world. While the developments provide exciting ways of dealing with global problems in relation to energy, climate, health, and agriculture, they also elicit calls for caution.

In order to fully understand the ethical dimensions of these technologies, a variety of investigations must be undertaken. One such investigation concerns the nature and status of the biological and ecological systems subject to manipulation. This workshop will bring together philosophers of biology, science, and engineering, bio-, and environmental ethicists as well as other experts to investigate fundamental theoretical questions concerning the nature and value of organisms, artifacts, and ecosystems in the context of current developments in biotechnology and environmental engineering.


  • Karen Neander (Duke)
  • Samir Okasha (Bristol)
  • Jay Odenbaugh (Lewis & Clark College)
  • Frédéric Bouchard (Montreal)
  • Wybo Houkes (Eindhoven)
  • Elselijn Kingma (King’s College London)
  • Simon Rippon (Oxford)
  • John Basl (Bowling Green)
  • Sune Holm (Copenhagen)

Free, but please e-mail Sune Holm
( by August 1, 2012 if you would like to attend.

JOB – Postdoc @ University of Washington (Seattle), Biological Futures in a Globalized World

We invite recent PhDs with expertise in research ethics to apply for a teaching postdoctoral fellowship in “Biological Futures in a Globalized World” (a “Research Associate” appointment) beginning in September 2012.  Biological Futures in a Globalized World” is a cluster of projects hosted by the Simpson Center for the Humanities at the University of Washington, initiated in 2011 in collaboration with the Center for Biological Futures at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center.  The Biological Futures Postdoctoral Fellow will be appointed in the Program on Values (Department of Philosophy), and will report to the Principal Investigator responsible for the University of Washington components of the Biological Futures program.  The Biological Futures Postdoctoral Fellow will play a pivotal role in developing an integrated, cross-campus research ethics training initiative in the (non-medical) natural and social sciences at the University of Washington.  In this second year of the Biological Futures project our priority is to pilot several undergraduate courses and graduate seminars in research ethics that complement and integrate existing ethics training resources on campus.  The Postdoctoral Fellow will be responsible for coordinating one undergraduate lecture course that will showcase the work of UW faculty involved in research ethics (Fall 2012), teaching one broad spectrum undergraduate introduction to research ethics in the sciences (Winter 2013), and one graduate seminar on a selection of key research ethics issues (Spring 2013).  The Postdoctoral Fellow will also assist the Biological Futures PI in identifying best practices and areas of need in research ethics education at the University of Washington, and will collaborate with Biological Futures faculty in developing plans for a sustainable program in research ethics.  Finally, the Postdoctoral Fellow will assist in convening a colloquium series on Research Ethics through the academic year.

While this position is open with respect to discipline, a strong background in analytic value theory is necessary and experience teaching practice-grounded (non-medical) research ethics is an asset.  We especially encourage applications from scholars who have a demonstrated ability to work collaboratively across disciplines, and experience convening academic events.

This appointment is for nine months – 16 September 2012 through 15 June 2013.  Candidates must have their PhD degree in hand by the time they take up their appointment, and must have received their PhD within the last six years.  The fellowship carries a monthly salary of $4292 plus benefits, and includes relocation support and/or travel funds.

The deadline for applications is June 15, 2012.  To be considered for this position please submit the following materials electronically, in one PDF or Word file, to Suzanne Long (Biological Futures Program Coordinator) at the Simpson Center at  Please provide the following:

  1. A cover letter that states your interest in the Postdoctoral Fellowship and outlines how your interests and qualifications are suited to this position.
  2. A curriculum vitae.
  3. One writing sample of no more than 20 pages.
  4. A sample syllabus for a course, or seminar, on research ethics in the non-medical sciences, and evidence of teaching excellence.

We also request three letters of recommendation, to be e-mailed directly by the recommenders or sent from a portfolio management service to the Simpson Center for the Humanities:  We will consider applications on a rolling basis and expect to make a hiring decision by July 20, 2011.

–Biological Futures in a Globalized World:
–Principal Investigator (UW): Alison Wylie:

CALL FOR PAPERS – Philosophy & Public Policy Quarterly, Editor Mark Sagoff

The Institute for Philosophy and Public Policy, now at George Mason University, is relaunching its journal Philosophy and Public Policy Quarterly, published since 1981.  The journal seeks papers that address normative and conceptual dimensions of issues of importance and timeliness in public policy including those surrounding the environment, animals, the climate, environmental justice, ecofeminism, biological engineering, and so forth.

The editors favor articles that are fewer than 5,000 words and are written in a style that will appeal to a broadly informed public.  Short opinion pieces are welcome, as are longer essays that might serve as target articles for solicited responses.  Articles will be reviewed by the editors and outside referees and, if accepted, will be carefully edited for publication.

Please send manuscripts by email to

CALL FOR PAPERS – Undergraduate Biomedical Ethics Symposium

Western Michigan University
May 5, 2012
Hosted by University Center for the Humanities
2500 Knauss Hall

Biomedical ethics papers should be 3000 words (about 20 minutes presentation time) and prepared for blind review (name and identifying information should appear nowhere on the paper).  Attach your paper and separate cover page that contains name, address, phone number, e-mail address and school affiliation as a Word or PDF file to the e-mail.  The e-mail subject line should read “Undergraduate Biomedical ethics Paper Submission”

Submission deadline March 14, 2012.

Accepted authors will be notified by March 15th.  Papers not prepared for blind review will be rejected.  We respectfully request that we receive submissions only from those who plan to attend the conference if accepted.

Please e-mail submissions to

This Event is sponsored by the Center for the Study of Ethics in Society, the Department of Philosophy, the Medical Humanities Workgroup, and the University Center for the Humanities.

WORKSHOP – Ethical Issues in Engineering Biological and Ecological Systems

Northeastern University 
Boston, MA
September 30-October 2

Biological and ecological problems are increasingly understood and approached from an engineering perspective. In environmental contexts this is exemplified in the discourses around geoengineering, designer ecosystems, and assisted colonization. In human health contexts it is exemplified in the discourses around synthetic biology, bionanotechnology, and human enhancement. This workshop brings together ethicists, philosophers, and other researchers working on ethical issues related to engineering complex biological and ecological systems. 


For more information about the workshop, and to register to attend, please visit the workshop website:

The workshop is sponsored by the Ethics Institute, the Department of Philosophy and Religion, and the NSF funded Nanotechnology and Society Research Group at Northeastern University.