UNESCO Chair in Bioethics and Human Rights. Roma, Italy

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New Issue of Studia Bioethica released

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The first issue of Studia Bioethica for 2015 has been published and is now available online here. The text is dedicated to the theme of “Social Responsibility in Bioethics” and includes many articles revised in light of discussions held during the Fourth International Bioethics, Multiculturalism and Religion Conference in Mexico City in November 2014. Previous issues of the bioethical journal of the Regina Apostolorum Faculty of Bioethics can be found here.


Anáhuac University hosts 2011 and 2013 Bioethics Art Competition Winning Pieces in Mexico City

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The Anáhuac University in Mexico City displayed the winning pieces of the 2011 and 2013 Bioethics Art Competition in its school of architecture during the Fourth International Bioethics, Multiculturalism and Religion Conference in Mexico City. The following is a personal reflection shared at the exhibit’s opening ceremony from art gallery owner Yvonne Denbina, one of the competition’s founders. Her account expresses how the works have stimulated minds and touched hearts around the world. Her experience also suggests that future competitions will continue foster the art of convergence and cooperation in global ethics through the universal language of art. A catalogue of the winning pieces can be found online for 2011 competition here and for the 2013 competition here.


Fr. Joseph Tham Named New Dean of Faculty of Bioethics

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The Grand Chancellor of the Pontifical Regina Apostolorum appointed UNESCO Chair Fellow Father Joseph Tham, LC the new Dean of the School of Bioethics on 10 September 2014.

Tham was in Hong Kong and immigrated to Toronto at the age of 15 years.  He devoted his early training to the field of life and health, eventually graduating in Medicine at the University of Toronto, before working as a physician at Etobicoke Genenal Hospital and St. Joseph's Health Centre in Toronto.

After his priestly ordination in 2004, he has devoted his energies to the publication and dissemination of bioethical research. In 2007, Tham presented his doctoral thesis on “The Secularization of Bioethics,” a work which treats the historical development of secularization and its impact on the relationship between theology, religion and bioethics. He currently continues to explore the issue of secularism, moral relativism, pluralism and different models of bioethics, as well as the response from the Catholic moral tradition founded on natural law and personalism. “I started to explore the theological dimension missing in these matters, where I see an incapacity of secular bioethics to address the deeper questions of life, suffering and death, illness and healing, and the right use of technology. Theological perspectives of creation, idolatry, domination, suffering, aging, sin, and salvation can provide the necessary bioethical reflection on the human condition (anthropology), his ultimate end (eschatology), and the ability to hope and love (spirituality, virtue).”

Moreover, these interests have led Father Joseph to explore the themes of multiculturalism and other religions in the field of bioethics, in an increasingly globalized world. “My Chinese roots and my Christian commitment have allowed me to delve into this fascinating world of thoughts and cultures.”



Bioethics Art Exhibition at the University of Texas

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by Yvone Denbina

The University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center Section of Integrated Ethics, headed by Dr. Colleen Gallagher, exhibited the Bioethics Art Competition 2011 and 2013 winners on August 29, 2014. The exhibit was on display all day and was also the focus of a reception within the Faculty Café hosted and organized by Dr. Warren Holleman. Approximately 200 staff members, doctors, invited guests and bioethicists viewed the exhibit’s 31 pieces.  A photo gallery of the event is available here.

The winners, 11 in 2011 and 15 in 2013 ranged in age from 13 to 79 and represented 29 countries. Additionally, 5 board members created and donated their work for the benefit of the competition. In 2011, the theme of the competition was:  “Be inspired to contemplate human life with wonder and compassion.”  In 2013, the theme was “Create an image, with respect for all cultures and religions that speaks to the impact of life sciences for present and future generations.  Illustrate Love, Compassion and Care.” The concept of inviting artists to express their ideas visually and through a written statement furthers the mission of fostering convergence of science and art, with respect and care for all human beings. In these two competitions, Bioethics Art Competition has awarded $26,400 in awards to artists. The Bioethics Art Competition will continue to create new events and initiatives that will inspire dialogue of global ethics.

The new challenge in 2015 is “Express the Gift of Healing: Body, Mind and Spirit”. Bioethics Art Competition sends an appeal to artists, students, creative individuals of every nation to lend their interpretation, images and words to spread the focus of concern, compassion and love for all beings. Check the website, www.bioethicsart.org for more details and the images of previous winners.

M.D. Anderson is the latest venue for the exhibition of winners.  Other sites have been The United Nations Gallery in New York, New York; Regina Apostolorum Pontifical University, Rome, Italy; St. Thomas University, Houston, TX; Northwoods Unitarian Universalist Church, The Woodlands, TX; Old Town Spring Museum, Spring,TX; Hong Kong Baptist University and Hong Kong University, Hong Kong.

Additional exhibition sites, competition dates, categories and awards will be posted on the website, www.bioethicsart.org.


Progress Report 2012-2014

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Executive Summary   017_2__Light_In_the_Square

Some of the chief outcomes of our commitment to promote  an integrated system of research, training, information, and documentation on bioethics and human rights are the following:

  • Improvement of communication regarding the project of the UNESCO chair, its mission, and its activities within the organization and to the public (particularly through our internet site: www.unescobiochair.org and periodical newsletters)
  • Design, launching, and consolidation of some academic programs and activities in collaboration with our UNITWIN partners in Mexico and Angola
  • Strengthening of the Neurobioethics Research Group (through ongoing monthly meetings)
  • Continuation of a forum of diverse bioethics thought leaders through the organization of our 3rd International Workshop on Bioethics, Multiculturalism and Religion in Hong Kong (Dec 2013), which offered a framework to guide the application of bioethical principles with regards to various religious traditions. Preparation has begun for the 4th Workshop on the Principles of Social Responsibility and Health in collaboration with Anahuac University in Mexico City (Nov 2014).
  • Innovative involvement of artistic community in bioethics issues through the organization of our 2nd International Bioethics Art Competition focusing on cultural diversity and the protection of future generations (May 2013) and preparation of the 3rd edition of the same competition.
  • Increased interest and involvement of new scholars and students from our host institutions (UER-APRA).  Some have volunteered as fellows and interns, making possible the consolidation and development of our activities.

Read the full report here.


UNESCO Chair hosts Fourth International Bioethics, Multiculturalism and Religion Conference in Mexico City

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By Michael Baggot

Bioethical thought leaders from six major religions and twelve countries gathered in Mexico City for the Fourth International Bioethics, Multiculturalism, and Religion Workshop and Conference to discuss the role of social responsibility in health from their diverse traditions.  The participants dedicated three days to reflection and exchange that based primarily on article 14 of the 2005 UNESCO Universal Declaration on Bioethics and Human Rights. UNESCO Chair partner university the Anahuac University hosted the event on November 10-12 as part of their 50th anniversary celebrations. The online speakers list and schedule for the workshop provides further information on the event and its participants.

“I feel like I am coming to a family reunion,” said Dafna Feinholz, Chief of Section for the UNESCO Sector for Social and Human Sciences, regarding the fraternal spirit that permeated the work of attendees. The familial atmosphere among the collaborators is largely due to the fact that many speakers have cooperated in the previous conferences held at Hong Kong in 2013, (watch video) at Rome in 2011 (watch video), and at Jerusalem in 2009 (watch video).

While each session allotted an hour to spontaneous dialogue in response to the three prepared presentations, the conversation inevitably spilled over into the coffee breaks, shared meals, and even the organized tours of Mexico City’s cultural heritage. Dr. John Lunstroth, Professor of Law at the University of Houston, has already taken the initiative to open an internet forum to continue the international discussion on the various themes raised at the Mexico gathering and to prepare for the 2016 workshop and conference planned for Houston, Texas.



Neuroscience Research Group continues work at UNESCO Chair partner university in Mexico City

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The Neuroscience Research Group Anáhuac, known by their members as GENA, has worked for over three years to explore the problems of the mind and brain with scientific rigor. The study group meets at the UNESCO Chair of Bioethics and Human Rights partner university la Universidad Anáhuac in Mexico City. The group has already addressed the following issues: “Neural Systems Affected in Schizophrenia,” “Neural Circuits Involved in Parkinson's Disease,” “Neuropathic Pain and Neurological Bases” and “MRI for Pain Control.”

The group was inspired by the experience of attending the 2012 Regina Apostolorum Bioethics Summer Course “Neurobioethics: The Person in the Center of Neuroscience, Ethics, Law and Society.” The Anáhuac group has extended their Rome experience of neuroscientific reflection over the course of more than 50 meetings in Mexico City.

Professors of Psychology Rosa López Fernández and Margarita García Nicolín guide the group composed of the following students of Psychology: Manuel Alvarez and Mariana Mendoza Velazquez de Leon Calvillo (both 8th semester), and of the following students of the Master of Medical Sciences: Miriam Areli Gonzalez Aparicio, Stella Lilian Levy and Citlalli Zenith Jessurun Vega Davila.

For more information:

Dr. Damian Carrillo Ruiz

School of Psychology

This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it


New Book: Religious Perspectives on Human Vulnerability in Bioethics

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9789401787352Springer press has published a new book: Religious Perspectives on Human Vulnerability in Bioethics.  Editors: Joseph Tham, Alberto Garcia, Gonzalo Miranda.  This is second in the series of Global Bioethics.  The new volume is a product of the Second International Workshop held in Rome on Human Vulnerability.



Newsflash: Chair Director to Address Association of Latino Leaders

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A Picture meant for history books, not headlines

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by Michael Gannon

Families fleeing their homes, leaving their city behind forever, carrying on their backs the little they can cling to, with innocent little faces trailing them with tears dripping onto the desert sand beneath them…

Imagine that picture…spare a moment to try and sense the pain, the loss, and the trauma in need of healing that will lie ahead. You have probably seen the like in a history book, where you were taught about a past injustice and moved by the suffering faces you saw. You might have wondered how anything like that could happen, and you might have felt assured that it couldn’t happen again in our modern and progressive times. But the picture you are imagining now describes a reality that is current, happening today, and the pain is being felt by our brothers and sisters in their lives, in their hearts, and in their families.

The situation of persecuted religious groups in parts of the world is real, and has intensified. People are being pressured to renounce their religion against their true desire, or to face heavy tax penalties and societal discrimination that would incessantly burden if not cripple their families. If they refuse to submit to either, they are threatened with death. Most have chosen another option, that of fleeing their hometowns where they are no longer welcome. This reality is dramatic, extreme, tragic, and begging for compassion. The children are the most heart-wrenching victims of these crimes.


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