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Announcement of Plenary Speakers

As conference co-chairs, we are excited to confirm the following plenary speakers for the 2020 Annual Canadian Bioethics Society Conference…stay tuned for more exciting program highlights.

- Jennifer & Michael

Eric Meslin -  Bioethics for the 21st Century: Are we ready yet?


Bioethics emerged in the mid 20th century in the wake of the Nuremberg Trials and in response to new technological advances in health care. New advances in genomics, artificial intelligence and digital technologies are raising new questions about what it means to be human, what the boundaries are or should be between public and private life, and whether existing governance and regulatory structures and processes can address the new challenges presented by these technologies. In his presentation, Dr. Meslin will trace the evolution of bioethics in relation to technology and map out what the future holds for bioethics in the 21st century. Are we ready yet?

Dr. Meslin is President and CEO of the Council of Canadian Academies. He was founding Director of the Indiana University Center for Bioethics and Associate Dean for Bioethics at the IU School of Medicine. Prior to Indiana, he was Bioethics Research Director of the Ethical, Legal and Social Implications (ELSI) program at the U.S. National Human Genome Research Institute and Executive Director of the National Bioethics Advisory Commission appointed by then President Bill Clinton. With disciplinary expertise in philosophy and bioethics, his research emphasizes ethical aspects of economics, international health, big data and human subjects research. He has extensive national and international policy experience, including as a member of advisory committees to the WHO, UNESCO, CIHR, the Institute of Medicine, the US Centre for Disease Control and Genome Canada. Currently, he is Vice-Chair of the UK Biobank Ethics and Governance Council.

Mildred Cho - Integrating Ethics into Machine Learning for Precision Medicine – Lessons for Research and Innovation Design


Machine learning (ML) in the context of gene-based precision medicine is a new phenomenon, about which there is very little understanding of actual practices, work processes and the specific contexts in which ML design system decisions are made. Importantly, design decisions intersect with values and ethical principles. Although the field of ML for precision medicine is still in its formative stage, there is growing recognition that designers of ML systems have responsibilities to ask such questions about values and ethics. In this presentation, Professor Cho will report findings of her NIH-funded research on the issues, explore implications for ethical research and design of ML systems in precision medicine, and share experience co-creating a new ethics toolkit for ML designers.

Professor Cho is Associate Director of the Stanford Center for Biomedical Ethics. She is a leading expert on ethical and social issues in genetic research, including those arising from gene therapy and editing, synthetic biology, microbiome research, the use of artificial intelligence to analyze genomic and medical data, the effects of gene patenting on clinical genetic testing and research, and the impacts of academic-industry ties on biomedical research. Her disciplinary background is in pharmacology, health policy, and bioethics.

Pascale Lehoux – Anticipatory Governance and Moral Imagination – Engaging the Public on the Future of Health Technology


Responsible research and innovation (RR!) emphasizes the inclusive and anticipatory stakeholder participation in the development and deployment of technological innovation. Although the public has a critical stake in the future of technology, citizens are often left out of the discussion. Future interactions between technical and moral issues are difficult to envision due to limited understanding of the technology itself of insight into the sociotechnical contexts within which it would be deployed. In this presentation, Professor Lehoux will explore how to foster public moral imagination about technology, share insights from using deliberative methods in the development of the Montreal declaration, and propose directions for inclusive and anticipatory public engagement about AI and emerging health technologies in Canada.

Professor Lehoux is Full Professor with the Department of Health Management, Evaluation and Policy at the School of Public Health of University of Montreal. She completed a Bachelor degree in Industrial Design, a PHD in Public Health from University of Montreal, and postdoctoral studies in Science & Technology Dynamics at the University of Amsterdam. She held the Canada Research Chair on Innovation in Health (2005-2015). Her research focuses on technological change in health, including the impact of technology assessment on policy-making and public involvement; broader sociological issues in technology design and diffusion in health care, and the role of business models, capital investment and economic policy on tech design in academic spin offs.

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