Seminars & Events


All lectures take place at 3647 Peel, Don Bates Seminar Room 101 until noted otherwise.


Upcoming Seminars

Science and Skepticism: Critiquing Bad Research in an Anti-Science Era

A symposium sponsored by McGill University’s Biomedical Ethics Unit and Dept. of Epidemiology, Biostatistics, and Occupational Health

Monday, March 19, 2018; 1:00pm-4:00pm

McGill University Faculty Club, Billiard Room

PDF icon Science and Skepticism

Past Seminars

Tuesday January 23, 2017 @ 3:30 PM

Lynette Reid, PhD

Precision in medical imaging: what are the ethical and epistemic trade-offs?

“An imaging test is a way to let doctors see what’s going on inside your body,” says the American Cancer Society in its information for patients. It is natural to assume that a more accurate imaging test is always desirable when looking "inside the body” to screen for or to diagnose disease. But what does “accuracy” mean in imaging tests and in clinical practice? What are the limits we reach and tradeoffs involved in improving accuracy? Current debates about overdiagnosis in cancer screening show the need to scrutinize critically our deeply held assumptions about objectivity in medical imaging. I propose for debate that there may be conditions under which an imprecise medical image is a better medical image. What ethical and epistemic challenges would be raised by a deliberate choice for a less precise image? 

PDF icon lynette_reid_poster.pdf

Joint Pediatric Medical Grand Rounds

Wednesday October 11, 2017 @ 8:00 AM

MUHC Research Institute Auditorium, room E.S1.1129.

Robert Nelson, M.D., Ph.D., M.Div.

Robert “Skip” Nelson, M.D., Ph.D. is currently the Deputy Director and Senior Pediatric Ethicist in the Office of Pediatric Therapeutics, Office of the Commissioner at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.  Dr. Nelson provides consultation throughout FDA on ethical issues arising in the development of FDA-regulated products for children, and serves as a standing member of the FDA Pediatric Review Committee.  Prior to joining FDA full-time in 2009, he was Professor of Anesthesiology, Critical Care and Pediatrics at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine.  After receiving his M.D. degree from Yale University, Dr. Nelson trained in pediatrics (Massachusetts General Hospital), neonatology and pediatric critical care (University of California, San Francisco), and remains Board certified in all three areas.  He has a Master of Divinity degree from Yale Divinity School and a Ph.D. in The Study of Religion from Harvard University, specializing in ethics.

File 11_octobre_2017_-_october_11_2017.docx

Tuesday November 7, 2017 @ 12:00 PM

Bloomfield Lecture Hall, Lady Davis Institute, Jewish General Hospital

Deborah Zarin, MD A window into the Clinical Research Enterprise

Deborah A. Zarin, M.D. has been the Director of since 2005.  Dr. Zarin has played a major role in the development and implementation of the key legal and policy mandates for clinical trial reporting.  As part of that process, Dr. Zarin provided the scientific leadership for the creation of the first structured public database for the reporting of summary trial results.

Dr Zarin’s recent research has been on the quality of trial reporting, as well as issues in the design and analysis of clinical trials. Dr. Zarin’s academic interests are in the area of evidence based clinical and policy decision making, as well as clinical trial conduct, analysis and reporting.  She is the author of over 80 peer reviewed articles.

Dr. Zarin graduated from Stanford University and received her doctorate in medicine from Harvard Medical School.  She completed a clinical decision making fellowship, a pediatric internship, and is board certified in general psychiatry, as well as in child and adolescent psychiatry.

PDF icon deborah_zarin.pdf


Tuesday April 11, 2017 @ 3:00 PM

Josephine Johnson, LLB, MBHL

Sequencing the Stork: Genomics and the “Good Parent”

Advances in genetic technology promise to provide women, and men, with more information about—and control over—the genetic make-up of their future children. Information and control are highly prized in our culture, and they can offer substantial benefits to prospective parents. But they can also generate new responsibilities, raising the question whether refusing information or refusing control can be consistent with being a “good parent”. In this paper, I explore the idea of the good parent, and discuss how that idea might evolve in response to reproductive uses of genomics.

PDF icon josephine_johnston_poster.pdf

Friday March 3, 2017 @ 12:00 PM

Seema Shah, PhD

Ethical considerations for Zika virus human challenge trials

Zika virus is an insidious disease that has become a major public health threat around the world.  Zika virus can cause devastating neurological damage in infants and adults in some cases, and may have other effects that are not yet known. Although there are ongoing public health efforts to stem the disease, there are no treatments or vaccines approved for Zika virus. There is therefore urgent need to develop biomedical interventions against Zika virus. One powerful tool for testing treatments and vaccines for infectious diseases is human challenge research, in which volunteers are purposefully exposed to pathogens in order to answer research questions more quickly, rigorously, and efficiently. Despite the fact that challenge studies have a long history, bioethicists have only recently analyzed when they are justifiable. The ethics literature provides limited guidance for Zika virus human challenge studies because scholars focus on human challenge research on diseases that are well-understood and can be treated effectively. In this talk, I will provide a framework of ethical considerations for Zika virus human challenge trials and address the question of whether they can be ethically justified.

[PDF icon]  bioe_seminar_poster_2.pdf

Studies of Translation, Ethics and Medicine (STREAM) Seminar

Tuesday, October 4, 2016 1 PM
Mark Yarborough, PhD

Everyone acknowledges the need for biomedical research to enjoy the public’s trust that it continuously solicits and receives. An ethical precondition of soliciting trust is knowing the extent to which that trust is deserved. What makes biomedical research deserving of the public trust requires in-depth attention. This session will review three different criteria of trustworthiness in research - reliability, social value, and ethical conduct - to explore the extent to which the biomedical research enterprise warrants public trust.

PDF icon mark_yarbourough.pdf

May 13th, 2016 - 10:00 AM

Adelaide Doussau de Bazignan, MD, PhD

"Is it ethically justified to increase the number of patients treated with experimental drugs in cancer placebo controlled trials?"




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