Scottish Council on Human Bioethics

Study of three medical ethics dilemmas

Funding to support a studentship for the Master of Arts (MA) degree in bioethics at St Mary’s University College, Twickenham

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REASON FOR THE PROJECT The MA studentship will examine a neglected topic in medical ethics. The short-list of topics available to the MA student includes a) the search for identity in children born through donor insemination, b) the ethical consequences of developments in neurology, and c) the commercialization of human body parts (including reproductive cells). There is a major hole in the British understanding of these topics and of their ethical consequences. Funding for the MA studentship will enable the Scottish Council on Human Bioethics (SCHB) to begin to correct this significant neglect. Joint supervision by Dr Calum MacKellar of the Scottish Council on Human Bioethics and Professor David Jones of St Mary’s University College will guide the student in selecting a topic, then will oversee research of the topic and writing of the dissertation, and finally will ensure the widespread publication of salient results of the research. PROJECT BENEFICIARIES (direct and indirect) What groups of people will benefit from your project? Broadly, the whole of Scottish society will immediately benefit from the project. Since the SCHB serves the Scottish people by guiding the legislation of the Scottish Parliament and by disseminating publicly accessible information, the proposed project has potential to affect every resident of Scotland. Firstly, the project will augment public knowledge and influence ethical formation by engaging issues that directly affect all members of society. Secondly, the project will further the progress of society by training researchers who will expertly and sensitively contribute to ongoing conversations in medical ethics and who will winsomely and relevantly inform the public about bioethics. Further, the research of the SCHB affects public policy throughout the UK, as evidenced by testimony the SCHB provided to the House of Commons regarding animal-human hybrids and the commercialisation of human eggs during debates in the Autumn of 2008. Also, the SCHB is an observer member of the Forum of National Ethics Commitees of the European Union and is, therefore, able to give international contributions. More narrowly, since the research topics available to potential MA students focus on issues that affect at-risk members of society, the project will aid in protecting the well-being of society’s most vulnerable members. For example, examination of the consequences of neurological practice affects society’s older members with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia, and study of the commercialization of body parts affects the economically underprivileged who are most likely to sell their organs, tissue, or cells (including reproductive cells) and thereby to expose themselves to exploitation. BRIEF FINANCIAL BREAKDOWN Total project cost: £6,000 Including: Studentship fees: 1 year @ £3000/year = £ 3,000 Supervision fees: 1 years @ £3000/year = £ 3,000