Biomedical Ethics 2023

The Dutch Research School of Philosophy (OZSW), Erasmus University Medical Center (Erasmus MC), Radboud University Medical Center (Radboudmc), and Leiden University Medical Center (LUMC) invite PhD candidates to register for the course Biomedical ethics to take place in April – May 2023.

Organizing university

Erasmus University Medical Center (Erasmus MC), Radboud University Medical Center (Radboudmc), and Leiden University Medical Center (LUMC)


April 13, 20; May 4, 11, 25 2023


Utrecht (13 en 20 April) en Leiden (4, 11 en 25 May)

Type of activity

5 day course

Primary target group

PhD candidates working in the field of biomedical ethics

If places available, also open to

2nd year Research Master students and postdocs. Please email Fenanda Jacobs to be put on the waitinglist.

Application/registration deadline

March 15th, 2023

About the topic

A key characteristic of the course Biomedical ethics is to provide participants with a diversity of methods and approaches in the philosophy and ethics of biomedicine and healthcare. This will be done for each of the more specific topics of the course, covering Research ethics & integrity; Public health and preventive medicine; Technology and ethics (using examples from the field of reproductive medicine); and Clinical ethics support & end of life ethics.

Each course day includes interactive morning lectures (10:00-12:00h), lunch (12:00-13:00h), and interactive and reflective afternoon sessions. Part of the afternoon sessions will be reflection on:
(i) The level(s) at which the ethical/philosophical debate on the topic at hand plays out (micro, meso and/or macro);
(ii) Choice of method (pros, cons, arguments for and against);
(iii) The potential role(s) of the philosopher/ethicist; and
(iv) The relation between empirical ethics and normative theoretical ethics.

Aim / objective

This course contributes to the following aims:

  • an overview of and insight in classical and contemporary approaches of philosophy & ethics of healthcare
  • the ability to translate these insights into an approach and design of one’s own research project
  • insight into a number of current topics in biomedical ethics
  • skills to identify ethical problems in healthcare and to reflectively use theories and methodologies to study them
  • skills to communicate their research to the research community as well as to professional and general audiences


Day 1 (13 April 2023): Setting the scene (Schermer & De Vries)

The morning lectures will set the scene for the course, by offering a broad overview of the field of (bio)medical ethics and its historical development. We will look at how the field as evolved from a form of applied philosophical ethics towards an interdisciplinary scholarly endeavour in which both theoretical and empirical methodologies are employed. We will also gloss over the various theoretical resources – ethical theories, principles, and concepts – and discuss the different roles that (bio)medical ethicists can take on in their work. This will set the stage for the consecutive days in which question about different approaches, methods and theories, and the role of the ethicist will be revisited in relation to the various topics: end-of-life care, clinical ethics, research ethics, public health ethics and (reproductive) technologies.

In the afternoon participants will present themselves and their work in relation to the morning lectures and accompanying literature.

Day 2 (20 April 2023): Research ethics (Van Delden & De Vries)

During this day we will focus on a classic domain in biomedical ethics: research ethics. We will start by sketching the main focus points of this domain (protection of participant, global justice). Although a lot of knowledge has been developed in this field it is also fair to say that developments in biomedical research and in the societal response to research, prompt the field of research ethics to formulate answers to emerging dilemmas. One area is global research ethics. The common position is that it is unethical to enroll participants in research if there is no or little chance that the population the participants are part of, stands to benefit from the research. But why exactly? And how can benefit be created in a way that does not amount to undue influence?

Another development in biomedical research is that we use clinical cohorts and repositories of data and tissue more and more instead of relying primarily on clinical research projects. This comes with a number of questions such as how can we prevent broad consent to become a form of disentanglement? Related, but distinct is the development of Learning Health Systems, in which the boundary between clinical care and research has become permeable in order to learn more from the effects of interventions in clinical care. But what does this mean for the fiduciary obligations of the physicians?

These and other issues will be discussed with Martine de Vries who is actively involved in creating a Learning Health System and with Hans van Delden who chaired the workgroup that wrote the International Ethical Guidelines for Health-related Research Involving Humans of CIOMS in collaboration with the WHO.

Day 3 (4 May 2023): Public health and preventive medicine (Verweij & Krom)

The session on Public Health ethics will start with a focus on the question what characterizes public health ethics compared to other areas in the field of bioethics. The collective perspective taken in public health leads to a different focus in the allocation, distribution of burdens and benefits among individuals in safeguarding and stimulating health of the public. We will look into debates on the harm principle, solidarity, health equality, and will specifically take case studies (like vaccination, stimulating healthy life styles and screening) to discuss more in depth the ethical issues in public health debates.

Day 4 (11 May 2023): Technology & ethics (Boenink, De Wert & Segers)

In this session we will zoom in on ethical/philosophical issues in the development and application of assisted reproductive technologies (ARTs). This includes debates about the conditions for responsibly developing new ARTs in the laboratory (ethics of embryo-research), about the practice of medically assisted reproduction (MAR) (acceptable indications, professional responsibilities, ethical aspects of future scenarios), and about the ethics of screening/diagnosis, selection and modification in the context of MAR. The morning lectures will give an in depth overview of some of the ethical issues emerging with these developments (for scientists working in the lab, for medical professionals and future parents, for society at large), while also exploring the different ways in which ethicists can be involved in these debates. The afternoon sessions will provide ample opportunity for the group to interactively engage with the questions raised in the lectures.

Day 5 (25 May 2023): Clinical ethics support & End of life ethics (Molewijk & Asscher)

This day is devoted to the domain of clinical ethics support and the ethics around end-of-life. First, we will present the current state-of-the-art regarding clinical ethics support as sub-discipline of the field of (bio)ethics and the ethics of end-of-life. In the morning we will introduce our views on these. In the afternoon we will practice a form of ethics support, moral case deliberation, applied to a concrete end-of-life case. With the input from the students, and their preparation via studying some key papers on the two topics, we will then discuss some theoretical and normative issues linked to practicing clinical ethics support. For example, the status of background theories in clinical ethics and questions related to interaction between background theories and doing clinical ethics support when confronted with real cases in complex contexts.


  • dr. Marianne Boenink, Radboudmc (day 4)
  • dr. Hans van Delden, University Medical Center of Utrecht University (day 2)
  • Seppe Segers, Maastricht University (day 4)
  • dr. André Krom, LUMC (day 3)
  • dr. Bert Molewijk, Amsterdam UMC (day 5)
  • dr. Maartje Schermer, Erasmus MC (day 1)
  • dr. Eva Asscher, Amsterdam UMC (day 5)
  • dr. Marcel Verweij, Utrecht University (day 3)
  • dr. Martine de Vries, Leiden University Medical Center (day 1 and 2)
  • dr. Guido de Wert, Maastricht University (day 4)

Abstract submission

Requirements for abstract submission: TBA

Required preparations


Last updated on January 12, 2023

Certificate / credit points

For this course participants can earn a certificate after successful completion. Please note, however, that the OZSW is not accredited to reward students with credits/ECTS directly. The study load is mentioned on the certificate, which can usually be exchanged for ‘real’ credits (ECTS) at your home university. For more info please see

The study load for this activity is: 6 ECTS.


The course is free for:

Other PhD candidates pay a tuition fee of 300 euro for the course.

Participants from abroad are welcome, but are themselves responsible for arranging their travel and accommodation.

How to apply / register

Registration is closed.

Important: 2nd year ReMa students and postdocs cannot register at the moment. It is to be announced if the course will be open for other target groups. Please send an email to Fenanda Jacobs in case you’re interested to participate.

If registration has been closed because the maximum amount of participants has been reached, you can submit your name to the waiting list by sending an email to Please also indicate whether you are a ReMa student or PhD candidate and whether you are a member of the OZSW or not.

Cancellation and registration policy


Maartje Schermer (Erasmus MC)

Marianne Boenink (Radboud UMC)

André Krom (LUMC)