UNESCO Chair in Bioethics and Human Rights. Roma, Italy

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Chair Fellow Speaks on Person-Centered Health Care at Spanish University

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UNESCO Chair Fellow Fr. Joseph Tham gave delievered two bioethical talks during his visit to the Universidad Franciso de Vitoria in Madrid Spain July 3-4. Tham addressed the European Society for Person Centered Healthcare in his conference on “Person-centered Healthcare according to the Catholic Tradition.” Tham’s own abstract of the talk is included below.

Tham also commemorated the legacy of the late Dr. Edmund Pellegrino in an address to the Institute of Bioethics entitled “Testimony on Dr. Pellegrino, virtuous man and educator who lived what he preached.” Tham’s original Spanish abstract of the talk can be found below, followed by an English translation.


UNESCO Chair Fellows Participate in the 4th European Conference on Religion, Spirituality and Health in Malta

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Prof. Fr. Joseph Tham, LC and Prof. Fr. Alberto Carrara, LC, Fellows of the UNESCO Chair in Bioethics and Human Rights participated in the ECRSH14, the 4th European Conference on Religion, Spirituality and Health that took place in the Mater Dei’s Hospital in Malta Island From the 22nd to the 24th of May 2014.

The conference, organized by Prof. Dr. Donia Baldacchino (Educating Health Care Professionals on Spiritual Care, University of Malta), focused on the integration of religion and spirituality into clinical practice. The keynote speakers approached the topic from their specific professional background. The Malta Lecture was held by Prof. Harold G. Koenig, an expert in this field from Duke University Medical Center, Durham, NC, USA.

The ECRSH14 was sponsored by the Research Institute for Spirituality and Health, Langenthal/Switzerland, in collaboration with Malta University, and was titled: Integrating Religion/Spirituality into Clinical Practice: Focus on Health Care Professionals.

Prof. Fr. Joseph Tham, LC and Prof. Fr. Alberto Carrara, LC also met Malta’s President during the opening congress event on the 22nd of May in the Presidential House (see image below).

The speakers came from different countries around the world: Prof. Dr. med. Arndt Buessing (Universität Witten/Herdecke, Germany), Rev. Prof. Christopher Cook, MD PhD (Dep. of Theology and Religion, Durham University, UK), Prof. Farr A. Curlin, MD (Program on Medicine and Religion, The University of Chicago, IL, USA), Prof. George Fitchett DMin, PhD (Rush University Medical Center, Chicago, Il, USA), Rev. Dr. Ewan Kelly (NHS Education for Scotland, National Health Service, Edinburgh, UK), Dr. Piotr Krakowiak (Nicolaus Copernicus University Torun, Poland), Prof. Dr. Christina Puchalski (George-Washington-University Washington, DC, USA), Rev. Prof. John Swinton (King’s College University of Aberdeen, UK), and Dr. Jackie Watts (The Open University, London, UK).

You can find more information here. http://www.ecrsh.eu/

You can download the congress’ program here. http://www.ecrsh.eu/mm/ECRSH14-First-Announcement-Sep-6.pdf

UNESCO Chair Director receives COEBIO award in bioethics in Mexico City

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The COEBIO (Council for the Recognition of Bioethically Responsible Businesses) awarded UNESCO Chair Director Dr. Alberto García with a prize for his work in the field of bioethics in a March 27 day in honor of various Mexican business characterized by bioethical responsibility held in Mexico City.  Upon accepting the award, García delivered a brief talk on “The importance of being a bioethically responsible business.”

“The value of a bioethically responsible business is measured by its contribution to the common good and not only in its balance sheet and income statement,” noted García in his talk.

The ceremony recognized the commitment to respect life, dignity, moral values, health and the environment in the following organizations:. Refrigeración Ojeda, Hospital de la Mujer Médica Sur Lomas, Grupo Zapata, Red Queen Technology, Comedor Santamaría, Metro Producciones, Laboratorio Clínico Biomédica de Referencia y el Instituto Las Águilas.  The business Citelum México is also in the process of being recognized for a similar comitment to bioethical responsibility.

“Our mission is to empower businesses to implement a bioethical culture among its employees, as well as to support companies in restructuring their code of ethics”, explained Lorena Malpica, General Director and  founding partner of COEBIO.

“This entrepreneurial attitude or virtue that cares and is concerned with bioethics does not diminish, but rather increases the sensitivity and identification of employees with the business’s mission.  It also stimulates job security and productivity by providing greater awareness of the social value of  the fruit of one’s labor, increases one’s interest in training to provide better services, creates or promotes more harmonious relations that are more open to collaboration,” explained García.

COEBIO seeks to promote these noble ideas by training companies and institutions through courses that enable them to live bioethical values ​​in their daily activity.  The courses are taught by a team of specialists in bioethics (doctors, lawyers, philosophers) that offer an interdisciplinary approach.  A council of experts also assures that the business accords with high standards in their code of ethics.

“Bioethics is applied in all business sectors because the person is the center in all these areas.  It is about transforming a business by transforming the people of whom it consists," added Malpica.

“Therefore, bioethics in a business is not an expense, but rather an income,” concluded García.

For more information, please visit the organization’s official website: www.coebio.org.



List of speakers, Mexico workshop on Social Responsability in Bioethics

social_respThe list of speakers of the Fourth International Bioethics, Multiculturalism and Religion Workshop On Social Responsibility in Bioethics has been finalized. These  24 speakers hail from eight countries including France, Hong Kong, Israel, Italy, Mexico, Morroco, Singapore, Thailand, and USA.  We are excited to have them on board and we look forward to a fruitful engagement.


UNESCO Chair Fellow Offers Bioethics Course in Hong Kong

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UNESCO Chair Fellow, Fr. Joseph Tham, LC directed an intensive bioethics course in the Holy Spirit Seminary during his visit to Hong Kong from January to February 2014.

Thirty students participated in an introduction to bioethical thought that involved twenty hours of lectures.  The group consisted of various priests, seminarians, and lay people interested in the field.  The course was offered in Cantonese dialect of Chinese commonly spoken on the island.

During Tham’s most recent trip to his homeland, he also took time to offer lectures for those pursuing a diploma in bioethics with the Caritas Bianchi Institute of Higher Studies.

Tham also spoke at the Bioethics Resource Centre about the ethical, social, and medical implication of the SARS epidemic that inflicted the nation 10 years ago.  The presentation was addressed specifically to a group of medical students.



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 Fellow Participates in the 7th Annual Pisa Days of Psychiatry and Clinical Psychopharmacology

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Prof. Fr. Alberto Carrara, LC, Fellow of the UNESCO Chair in Bioethics and Human Rights and Coordinator of the Italian Research Group in Neurobioethics (GdN) participated in the 7th Annual Meeting – Pisa Days of Psychiatry and Clinical Psychopharmacology titled: Psychiatry: time for change, that took place in the Galilei Hotel in Pisa (Italy) on June 16-18, 2014.

Prof. Carrara gave a plenary lecture dealing with the contemporary application of neuroscience in psychiatric practice, with a particular focus on psychiatric patients as vulnerable members of society. The lecture was titled: Neuroethics in Psychiatry, and took place on June 18, 2014, at the end of the meeting.

Carrara noted that psychiatry has greatly changed with the advances in research. The remarkable increase in neuroscientific research in recent decades has corroborated the notion that “mind” and “brain” largely correspond and that psychiatric symptoms also result from brain disturbances. Neuroscientific research has opened new horizons to psychiatric interventions, thanks to the development of treatments such as psychotropic drugs.  Today we can affirm that we know much about the pathophysiology of mental disorders, we can control most psychiatric disorders and symptoms and, in an increasing number of cases, we can even restore normal equilibrium. Likewise, psychological practice has become more scientifically-oriented with some techniques showing reliable effectiveness, to the point that the combination of both drugs and focused psychological treatment can be decisive in some patients.



Latest Issue of Studia Bioethica Published

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The journal Studia Bioethica recently published its latest issue dedicated to “Religious perspectives on human rights in bioethics.”  Many of the entries are based upon presentations made during the Third UNESCO Chair in Bioethics and Human Rights International Conference on Bioethics, Multiculturalism and Religion in Hong Kong.  The various articles present the contributions of the Buddhist, Christian, Hindu, and Jewish traditions to a global discussion.  The latest issue of the journal may be read online here.


UNESCO Chair Fellow Speaks to Harvard Club of Hong Kong

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UNESCO Chair Fellow Fr. Joseph Tham spoke on the ethical issues of providing healthcare in an April 15 talk to the Harvard Club of Hong Kong.

Tham noted that while new technology offers men a longer lifespan than ever, many nations are struggling cover the costs of such advances as they limit their budgets in times of economic crisis.  In his talk entitled “Is the Cost of Healthcare Sustainable? The dilemma of technology in extending lifespan.” Tham addressed the group of Harvard University alumni.

Tham, a trained medical doctor and professor of bioethics in Rome, encouraged the audience to address the fundamental issues involved in various public debates about sustainable healthcare.  He insisted that we must understand well the goals of medicine and the role of technology in our life in order to overcome the tensions that can arise in shaping policy.

He noted that medicine is sometimes presumed to defeat disease completely so as to provide an impossible earthly immortality.  To understand healthcare properly, we must reflect well upon the significance of the unavoidable realities of aging, suffering, and death that touch each of our lives.

Tham concluded with reflection upon the meaning of human nature and man’s openness to trust in the transcendent realities that can offer new purpose to our earthly existence.



Fourth International Bioethics, Multiculturalism and Religion Workshop On Social Responsibility in Bioethics

Mexico City, November 10-13, 2014

dfThree international conferences and workshop on “Bioethics, Multiculturalism and Religion” were held in Jerusalem (2009), Rome (2011) and Hong Kong (2013).  These academic activities sought to foster the art of convergence and cooperation in global ethics among experts in bioethics coming from the world religions including Buddhism, Christianity, Confucianism, Daoism, Hinduism, Islam, and Judaism.

Anahuac University is an UNITWIN privileged partner of the UNESCO Chair in Bioethics and Human Rights from its very beginning in 2009. As co-organizer of this international workshop and public conferences which will be held in México City at its campus, this will be one of the commemorative events of the 50th Anniversary of Anahuac University’s foundation. This event hopes to reinforce its commitment to integral formation and development of individuals and society through positive leadership.

In Mexico 2014 the workshop will focus on the Principle of Social Responsibility and Health from the perspectives of different religions and cultures. Article 14 of the UNESCO Declaration in Bioethics and Human Rights states in part that:

1.      The promotion of health and social development for their people is a central purpose of governments that all sectors of society share.

2.      Taking into account that the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of health is one of the fundamental rights of every human being without distinction of race, religion, political belief, economic or social condition, progress in science and technology should advance:

(a) access to quality health care and essential medicines, especially for the health of women and children, because health is essential to life itself and must be considered to be a social and human good

The meeting in México will consist in a three-day workshop where bioethics experts from Buddhism, Christianity, Confucianism, Hinduism, Islam, Judaism and Mesoamerican traditions will gather to discuss different papers submitted for this occasion. The collection of these papers will result in the publication of a book.  As means of publicity and involvement of university community and the public we suggest to organize at Anahuac University one or two open events on topics related to sensible bioethics issues in the light of human rights.  See program. see list of speakers.

During the days of the workshop and conference, UNESCO Chair in Bioethics and Human Rights will set up an art exhibition of the winners of Bioethics Art Competition that have taken place in 2011 and 2013. These artworks have been successfully showed in several art venues and institutions: in the United States (at the UN Headquaters in New York and in Houston), Rome and Hong Kong as a correlate cultural activity and environment to illustrate universal values related to bioethics in the light of human rights. The mission of this competition as well as the themes and pictures of the works of art can be found at: www.bioethicsart.org.


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