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Ties that bind? Innovative assisted reproductive technologies and the ethics of genetic relatedness

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  • Full or part time
    Dr John Appleby
    Dr Giulia Cavaliere
    Dr S Allinson
  • Application Deadline
    No more applications being accepted
  • Competition Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)
    Competition Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

Project Description

Assisted reproductive technologies (ARTs) create offspring who may or may not be genetically related to their parents. Therefore, it is argued that ARTs have done as much to disrupt society’s bionormative concept of the ‘genetically related’ family as they have done to reinforce it. However, a new generation of ARTs, such as mitochondrial replacement techniques and in-vitro derived gametes, have the purpose of enabling parents to have healthy offspring to whom they are genetically related. These technologies are both criticised and defended by patients, clinicians, scientists and ethicists. Some argue that their costs and risks are unwarranted because more safe and effective methods (e.g. donor-conception) of creating families without genetic ties exist. Others argue that they address challenging genetic conditions and satisfy people’s procreative preferences. The emergence of these technologies has re-ignited debates about the significance of the genetic tie and if using these technologies is warranted.

The proposed project brings together faculty in the fields of reproductive ethics (Appleby and Cavaliere) and cellular genetics (Allinson), to co-supervise a PhD student to address the following research question:

Does the value of genetic relatedness warrant the use of new ARTs that aim to create a genetic tie?

This project provides training in ethical reasoning (with Appleby and Cavaliere) and in core biological concepts of genetic manipulation through attending a selection of lectures from the BLS Biomedicine programme and reinforced with one-to-one meetings (with Allinson). The project employs the methodology of ‘conceptual analysis’ as an investigative framework. Research questions are addressed using ethical arguments and existing empirical evidence. In particular, the project focuses on the Faculty of Health and Medicine’s core research areas of: a) biology, in terms of the biological and medical significance of DNA (including the transmission of genetic disease); and b) health information, in terms of the importance of genetic information as health information. The project aligns with programmes of research and impact being carried out by Appleby, Cavaliere and Allinson.

Funding Notes

Applications should be made directly to Dr John Appleby [Email Address Removed] and should include:

CV (max 2 A4 sides), including details of two academic references
A cover letter outlining your qualifications and interest in the studentship (max 2 A4 sides)

How good is research at Lancaster University in Allied Health Professions, Dentistry, Nursing and Pharmacy?

FTE Category A staff submitted: 64.40

Research output data provided by the Research Excellence Framework (REF)

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