EthOPE: Ethical aspects of obesity prevention in Europe

Call for Applications

Desire to have children and genome-editing:  Ethical, legal and social aspects of genome-editing in in-vitro fertilization

Research Retreat for PhD students and Early Career Researchers 10th – 14th of July 2017 Tübingen University

organised by Institute for Ethics and History of Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, Tübingen University

supported by Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF)

New methods for genome-editing (CRISPR/Cas) are more efficient than those previously known. They could be applied in the prevention and therapy of diseases. However, several scientists called for moratoria on interventions in the germ line. In the United Kingdom, the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority has granted researchers permission to use genome-editing for research purposes in human embryos. The improvement of success rates of assisted reproduction is one of the possible outcomes that are discussed in relation to this research. Unfulfilled desire for children is acknowledged to cause suffering and assisted reproduction is widely accepted as a treatment. Research which can increase the success rates of in-vitro fertilization is likely to be very welcome. Due to the application of the new methods in the context of assisted reproduction, it is necessary to consider the benefits and risks of IVF and genome-editing together. The aim of the retreat is an international and comparative perspective with a focus on Germany and the United Kingdom, two countries which differ in terms of the regulation of genome-editing in the context of IVF.

The retreat

analyses  the new methods of genome-editing in the context of IVF from ethical, legal and social perspectives - focuses on the comparison between Germany and the United Kingdom - fosters interdisciplinary exchange - experiments with new methods for scientific collaboration - supports participants in publishing the papers developed for the retreat

We are looking for

PhD students and Early Career Researchers - researching genome-editing and/or assisted reproduction - working in one or more of the following fields: life sciences, medicine, ethics, social sciences, law - based in Germany or the United Kingdom - willing to prepare a paper & to discuss it with participants and experts  - open to try out new formats for scientific collaboration (forum theatre workshop) - interested in an international perspective focusing on Germany and the United Kingdom - looking forward to spending a week discussing ethical, social and legal aspects of genome-editing and in-vitro fertilisation

Possible research topics

e.g. status of the embryo, the danger of a slippery slope, distinction between research, therapy and prevention … different legal frameworks,  development of legislation over time, intended and unintended interventions in the germ line … social change, new relations between parents and children, technology acceptance, technology assessment, public understanding of science, science studies …

Additional information

Language: English

Location: Tübingen University

Costs: Travel expenses will be refunded, accommodation is free

Application procedure

Send an abstract (max. 500 words) for a paper you would like to present at the retreat together with a short curriculum vitae to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. until 13th of April 2017. After consultation by a team of experts, up to 14 participants will receive invitations. Invited participants are asked to submit the manuscripts of their papers until 25th of June 2017. The manuscripts will be distributed to all participants in advance for preparation of the research retreat


Dr. phil. Selma Kadi This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and  Dr. med. Zoé Rheinsberg This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.



February 2012 - January 2013

Funding: Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF)


Project Description:

The progress being made in the field of biogerontology holds out the prospect of age-associated diseases potentially being combatted more effectively in the future by means of direct interventions into the biological aging processes. Thus, there is hope for solutions to the problems associated with demographic change, but there is also a wide variety of complex ethical, legal and social issues that have yet to be discussed.

As part of the ELSA project, an interdisciplinary, competence-oriented discourse module called “The Ethics of Biogerontology” will be developed based on eight smaller projects in the fields of research, medicine and education. This will be tested at various partner institutions and evaluated using a new competence model.


Conception and project management:

Julia Dietrich und Hans-Jörg Ehni

Partner at the Institute for Ethics and the History of Medicine:
Dr. Hans-Jörg Ehni

Partner and Coordinator at the
International Centre for Ethics in the Sciences and Humanities:
Dr. Julia Dietrich


Mone Spindler

Office and Address:

International Centre for Ethics in the Sciences and Humanities
Wilhelmstr. 19
D-72074 Tübingen
Zimmer 3.13
Tel:  +49/(0)7071/29-77986
Fax: +49/(0)7071/29-5255

Student Assistants:

Christine Diebold
Andri König

From Science to the Public: Deep Brain Stimulation

BMBF ELSA (Ethical, Legal and Social Aspects) Research Network Transfer of Knowledge [mehr]

Duration: October 2013-September 2016


The goal of the project is to analyze the scientific discourse on deep brain stimulation (DBS), the transfer of knowledge as well as variables that affect this process. The study shall not only contribute to an overall better understanding of how complex, subject-specific research knowledge is acquired, disseminated, understood and misunderstood within and beyond the confines of a certain discipline, but more specifically it will also serve to develop strategies to improve this knowledge transfer.

This transfer within scholarly discourse to its portrayal in public media, pop culture to the point of individual reception will be studied in three sub-projects. Each of the sub-projects focuses on a different aspect of this transfer.

  • Sub-project 1: Deep Brain Stimulation: Reconstruction of the Transfer of Knowledge from the Scientific Community to the Broad Public
    • Oonagh Hayes
    • Project Management: Prof. Dr. Jens Clausen and Prof. Urban Wiesing


  • Sub-project 2: The influence of emotions on the acquisition of knowledge about depth brain stimulation
    • Dr. Claudia Sassenrath/ Dr. Hannah Greving
    • Project Management: Prof. Dr. rer. nat. Dipl.-Psych. Kai Sassenberg.


  • Sub-project 3: Understanding the fragility of medical findings in participatory media formats
    • Project Management: Prof. Dr. rer. soc. Dipl.-Psych. Ulrike Cress and Dr. Joachim Kimmerle.



Sub-project 1: Deep Brain Stimulation: Reconstruction of theTtransfer of Knowledge from the Scientific Community to the Broad Public

This project will examine both the scientific and public discourses using an ethical and historical approach. As a starting point, we will trace the historical development of DBS and analyze the discussions within the scientific community concerning its effectiveness, uses, contraindications and ethical issues. This analysis is based on various sources: In addition to medical publications and interviews with experts, decisions about research funding will be included in the reconstruction of the scientific discourse. Moreover, the public discussion of DBS within Germany will be investigated as well. The focus of this portion of the analysis will lie on general print media, radio and television as well as patient-oriented information. Placing both discourses – that of the scientific community and the general public – side by side in terms of their chronological development allows for a better understanding of not only the successes but also the difficulties and misunderstandings. In this way, the project can help to establish successful communication strategies, determine potential improvements and avoid misunderstandings.