Bioethics, health and law

The continuing advancement of modern healthcare and medicine gives rise to an increasing number of controversial ethical issues.

It is these issues that our bioethics specialists seek to address, with research that explores the answers to some of today’s most debated questions.

Bringing together lawyers, medical law professionals and philosophers, our research in this area considers topics such as:

  • eating disorders;
  • right-to-life issues;
  • ethics of genetics and epigenetics;
  • mental health and capacity issues;
  • obligations towards future generations;
  • pregnancy, reproduction, surrogacy and sex selection;
  • psychiatric ethics;
  • public health ethics;
  • regulation of medicine and healthcare;
  • resource allocation;
  • sports ethics;
  • stem cell research/therapy and cloning;
  • transgenderism/gender dysphoria;
  • uses of human organs and tissues;
  • transgenderism/gender dysphoria.


Civic Data Identity Partnership 

  • Funder: EPSRC details. 
  • Principal Investigator: Prof John Ainsworth, School of Health Sciences. 
  • Law members: Prof Søren Holm and Dr Sarah Devaney. 

The project aims: The goal of the Civic Data Identity Partnership (CDIP) is to create a platform for patients and clinicians to manage their data and interactions with digital health solutions, such as predictive algorithms. By building the CDIP using Distributed Ledger Technology (DLT), the platform will take advantage of the secure, decentralised properties of DLT to ensure privacy, identity and trust based on open technology.

The use of DLT in health data management has been considered but not yet resolved, with approaches often being led by technology enthusiasts rather than driven by user need, which must include the views of citizens, the NHS, research organisations and industry. Over the course of two years, the project will take a multi-disciplinary approach to research the potential of the CDIP platform considering security and trust, consent, and efficacy and reputation. 

HYBRIDA, 2021 to 2024 

  • Funder: EU. 
  • Principal Investigator: Prof Søren Holm. 

The project investigates the ethical, legal and regulatory issues around the creation and use of organoids in biomedical research. 

Mental Capacity and personal finances: a qualitative study of assessment and support, 2020 to 2022 

  • Funder: National Institute for Health Research. 
  • Principal Investigator: Alex Hall (Nursery, Midwifery and Social Work). 
  • Co-investigators: Nicola Glover-Thomas (Law) and Debbie Price (Sociology). 

Squaring the circle of the menstrual cycle: an interdisciplinary approach to the premenstrual problem 

  • Funder: ESRC.

  • Post-Doctoral Fellowship award held by Caroline Henaghan (Principal Investigator is Alex Mullock).

Evaluating the operation of Malta's Gender Identity, Gender Expression and Sex Characteristics Act 2015: to what extent has it enhanced the bodily integrity of intersex infants 

  • Funder: British Academy Small Grant.
  • Principal Investigator: Fae Garland. 

Medical treatment of gender diverse children in the UK and Australia 

  • Funder: Manchester University and Melbourne University.
  • Principal Investigator: Simona Giordano. 

The human body: Its scope, limits and future 

  • Funder: Wellcome Trust.
  • Principal Investigator: John Harris. 

Project aim: Our bioethics staff are working closely with the Institute for Science Ethics and Innovation on this projects which aims to follow five strands of innovative research: Human biomaterials; Genethics; Reproduction; Enhancement; and Methods in bioethics. 

The provision of antenatal information for the NHS Newborn Bloodspot Screening Programme 

  • Principal Investigator: Dr Fiona Ulph et al.
  • Law project member: Dr Rebecca Bennett.
  • Funder: National Institute for Health Research.

Project aim: To determine service providers and users views about the feasibility, cost, efficiency, impact on understanding and consent of current practice, and preference of alternative methods of conveying Newborn Bloodspot Screening Programme information antenatally.