Bioethics Discussion Group

A group of people sit around and talk about issues on the frontiers of the biomedical landscape.

Past events (2017 – 2021)

A quick look

Pertinent details

Other details 

First, do no harm. A discussion concerning the basis of care.

September 12, 2017, 7PM, 2185 LBME

The Hippocratic oath

The nocebo effect of informed consent

The doctor-patient relationship in different cultures

Organ and body donations. A discussion on the give and take of our very selves.

September 26, 2017, 7PM, 2185 LBME

The survival lottery

The case for allowing kidney sales

Organ donation and retrieval: whose body is it anyway?

Human experimentation. A discussion testing the limits of testing ourselves.

October 10, 7PM, 2185 LBME 

The Belmont report

The patient and the public good

Scientific research is a moral duty

We’re trying to help out ticket people, not exploit them 

Big data, little privacy. A discussion on the shape of things to come.

October 24, 2017, 7PM, 2185 LBME

Ethical issues in big data health research

Confidentiality in medicine: a decrepit concept

On telling patients the truth

Universal healthcare. A discussion on the (inevitable?) end of medicine.

November 7, 2017, 7PM, 2185 LBME

Bubbles under the wallpaper

Uncertainty and welfare economics of medical care

Barack Obama’s speech to Joint Session of Congress, September 2009

Family in medicine. A discussion on love, blood, and responsibility.

November 21, 2017, 7PM, 2185 LBME

The abnormal child

Life past reason

Treatment decisions regarding infants, children and adolescents

Death. A discussion on our ends.

December 5, 2017, 7PM, 2185 LBME


Abortion. A discussion “going there” respectfully.

January 9, 2018, 7PM, 2185 LBME

Abortion and health care ethics

Abortion and infanticide

A defense of abortion

Assisted reproduction. A discussion for the bravest in the new world.

January 23, 2018, 7PM, 2185 LBME

The ethics of uterus transplantation

Assisted reproduction in same sex couples

Multiple gestation and damaged babies

Quantifying the self: I. For the heart, life is simple. A lecture on the means, methods, and consequences of measuring cardiovascular dynamics via pressures, flows, and voles.

January 24, 2018, 1:30PM, 1123 LBME

In partnership with the Transforming Engineering Education col-Laboratory.

A bioethical lunch on life-preserving technologies with Scott VanEpps.

February 5, 2018, 11AM, NCRC B10 G063

In partnership with the Biointerfaces Research Group.

Prenatal screening. A discussion on early look and tough decisions.

February 6, 2018, 7PM, 2185 LBME

Prenatal diagnosis and selective abortion

Genetics and reproductive risk

Sex selection and preimplantation genetic diagnosis

Quantifying the self: II. I sing the body electric. A lecture on our potential charged with current understandings of our electrophysiology.

February 7, 2018, 1:30PM, 1123 LBME

In partnership with the Transforming Engineering Education col-Laboratory.

Genetic manipulation. A discussion on changing our codes.

February 20, 2018, 7PM, 2185 LBME


Questions about some uses of genetic engineering

The moral significance of the therapy-enhancement distinction in human genetics

Should we undertake genetic research on intelligence?

LGBTQ health. A discussion including inclusion and finding ourselves.

March 6, 2018, 7PM, 2185 LBME

Growing pains: problems with puberty suppression in treating gender dysphoria

The duty to warn and clinical ethics: legal and ethical aspects of confidentiality and HIV/AIDS

Obergefell v. Hodges decision


A bioethical lunch on clinical trialing with Cynthia Chestek and James Weiland. 

March 12, 2018, 12:30PM, NCRC B10 G063

In partnership with the Biointerfaces Research Group.

Quantifying the self: III. Health lies in action. A lecture on the next generation of physiological monitoring as embodied by wearables, therables, and the quantified self.

March 14, 2018, 1:30PM, 1123 LBME

In partnership with the Transforming Engineering Education col-Laboratory.

A philosophical movie night with Barry Belmont watching Synecdoche, New York.

March 15, 2018, 5PM, 1200 EECS

In partnership with the Engineering Student Government.

Vaccination. A discussion on public health and individual choice.

March 20, 2018, 7PM, 2185 LBME

Ileal-lymphoid-nodular hyperplasia, non-specific colitis, and pervasive developmental disorder in children

The moral case for the routing vaccination of children in developed and developing counties

Ethics and infectious disease


Regulation. A discussion about the maze and the pathway.

April 3, 2018, 7PM, 2185 LBME


Thalidomide retrospective: what did we learn?

Improving medical device regulation: the United States and Europe in perspective

Ethics, regulation, and comparative effectiveness research

Posthumanity. A discussion on our end.

April 17, 2018, 7PM, 2185 LBME

In defense of posthuman dignity

Stem cells, biotechnology, and human rights: implications for a posthuman future

A cyborg manifesto

A bioethical lunch on Star Wars with The Force. 

May 4th, 2018, 12PM, NCRC B10 ACR1

In partnership with the Biointerfaces Research Group. 

Neuroethics. A discussion on the origins of our moral situation.

September 11, 2018, 7PM, 2185 LBME

Neuroethics: an agenda for neuroscience and society

Neuroethics: the practical and the philosophical

Neuroethics for the new millennium

A bioethical lunch in a “moral minute”. 

September 20, 2018, 12PM, NCRC B18 Rm 113

In partnership with the Biointerfaces Laboratory Committees.

Half a dozen current Ph.D. students walk us through the bioethical landscape of their biomedical work.

Please RSVP

MSBT Annual Panel: The Ethics of Gene Editing. A panel discussing the scientific and ethical implications of new genetic engineering techniques.

September 21, 2018. Forum Hall @ Palmer Commons

A semi-related event (Barry Belmont was a panelist discussing the bioethics of the situation)

Drugs. A discussion on the manipulation of our biochemical status.

September 25, 2018, 7PM, 2185 LBME

Towards responsible use of cognitive-enhancing drugs by the healthy

Adverse health effects of marijuana use

Practical, legal, and ethical issues in expanded access to investigational drugs

Alternative medicine. A discussion at the boundaries of the medical sciences.

October 9, 2018, 7PM, 2185 LBME

The placebo effect in alternative medicine

The use of complementary and alternative medicine in pediatrics

Efficacy of complementary and alternative medicine therapies

Trends in the use of complementary health approaches among adults: United States, 2002-2012

A bioethical lunch on complementary medicine with Richard Harris.

October 11, 2018, 12PM, NCRC

In partnership with the Biointerfaces Laboratory Committees.

Zombies. A discussion of the living, the dead, and those in between.

October 23, 2018, 7PM, 2185 LBME

Consciousness: the most critical moral (constitutional) standard for human personhood

CDC preparedness 101 – zombie pandemic

Zombies v. materialists

In vitro meat

Cloning. A discussion coping with copying seeing double, and creating anew.

November 6, 2018, 7PM, 2185 LBME

Genetic encores

Human cloning and our sense of self

The ethics of reviving long extinct species

Uniqueness, individuality, and human cloning


A bioethical lunch on genomics with special guest Tom Lanigan.

November 15, 2018, 12PM, NCRC B18 Rm 115

In partnership with the Biointerfaces Laboratory Committees.

Animal experimentation. A discussion testing the limitations of our testing limitations.

November 20, 2018, 7PM, 2185 LBME

Does animal experimentation inform human healthcare?

Ethical principles and guidelines for experiments on animals

The flaws and human harms of animal experimentation

Animal testing is still the best way to find new treatments for patients

Alternatives to animal testing

Suicide. A discussion on our (chosen?) ends.

December 4, 2018, 7PM, 2185 LBME

The myth of Sisyphus

The ethics of suicide

Suicide: rationality and responsibility for life

Suicide responsibility of hospital and psychiatrist

A bioethical lunch on Harry Potter with special guest boys and girls who lived.

December 13, 2018, 12PM, NCRC B10 G065

In partnership with the Biointerfaces Laboratory Committees.

Race. A discussion on (in)equality that’s more than skin deep.

January 15, 2019, 7PM, 2185 LBME

Michigan Events

Racial disparity in emergency department triage.

Dealing with the realities of race and ethnicity

Race/Ethnicity and success in academic medicine

Race and trust in the health care system

Why bioethics has a race problem

Gender. A discussion on who we are, who society sees, and who we want to be.

January 29, 2019, 7PM, 2185 LBME

Michigan Events

Doing gender

For whom the burden tolls

Performative acts and gender constitution

Resisting medicine, re/modeling gender

The restroom revolution: unisex toilets and campus politics

Circumcision. A discussion on health, tradition, and mutilation.

February 12, 2019, 7PM 2185 LBME

Michigan Events

Male circumcision

Female genital alteration: a compromise solution

Female genital mutilation and male circumcision: toward an autonomy-based ethical framework

Rationalising circumcision

Current medical evidence supports male circumcision

Circumcision: case against surgery without medical indication

A bioethical lunch on neural interfaces.

February 14, 2019, 12PM, NCRC B10 G065

Michigan Events

In partnership with the Biointerfaces Laboratory Committees.

A bioethical lunch on publishing and peer-review with special guest Nick Kotov.

February 21, 2019, 12PM, NCRC B10 ACR1. [Rescheduled]

Michigan Events

In partnership with the Biointerfaces Laboratory Committees.

Pain. A discussion on what we (don’t want to) feel.

February 26, 2019, 7PM, 2185 LBME

Michigan Events

The undertreatment of pain

Moral agency in pain medicine

Suffering and the goals of medicine

The unequal burden of pain: confronting racial and ethnic disparities in pain

Pain medicine and its models: helping or hindering?

Mental health. A discussion on our internal (dys)functions.

March 12, 2019, 7PM, 2185 LBME

Michigan Events

The myth of mental illness

Distinguishing between the validity and utility of psychiatric diagnoses

Diagnostic issues and controversies in DSM 5

How stigma interferes with mental health care

Identification of a common neurobiological substrate for mental illness

A bioethical lunch on mathematical biology.

March 14, 2019, 12PM, NCRC B10 G065

Michigan Events

In partnership with the Biointerfaces Laboratory Committees.

The Bleeding Edge Film Screening and Moderated Discussion. 

March 18, 2019, 7PM, Forum Hall, 4th Floor, Palmer Commons

A semi-related event!

The Center for Bioethics and Social Sciences in Medicine is hosting a panel on medical devices a part of which Barry Belmont will be.

Eugenics. A discussion on who ought to be here.

March 26, 2019, 7PM, 2185

Michigan Events

Eugenics: its definition, scope, and aims

The second international congress of eugenics

CC Little renaming resolution

Buck v. Bell Supreme Court opinion

Moderate eugenics and human enhancement

Replicability of medical studies. A discussion on the significance of our results.

April 9, 2019, 7PM, 2185 LBME

Michigan Events

Reproducibility in science

Estimating the reproducibility of psychological science

How many scientists fabricate and falsify research?

Is the replicability crisis overblown?

A bioethical lunch on Game of Thrones.

April 18, 2019, 12PM, NCRC B10 G065

Michigan Events

In partnership with the Biointerfaces Laboratory Committees.

Extinction. A discussion on our (inevitable?) ends.

April 23, 2019, 7PM, 2185 LBME

Michigan Events

The nature of extinction

Extinction risk from climate change

Extinction and overspecialization: the dark side of human innovation

The ethics of de-extinction

A bioethical lunch on Star Wars. The Empire strikes back in this sequel to our original event.

May 2, 2019, 12PM, NCRC B10 G065

Michigan Events

In partnership with the Biointerfaces Laboratory Committees.

Self. A discussion on us by us.

September 17, 2019, 7PM, 2185 LBME

Michigan Events

Borges and I

Full-body illusions and minimal phenomenal selfhood

Identity, Self-Awareness, and Self-Deception: Ethical Implications for Leaders and Organizations

Individuals are Inadequate: Recognizing the Family-Centeredness of Chinese Bioethics and Chinese Health System

On the quantified self with Barry Belmont.

September 24, 2019, 12PM, NCRC B10 G065

In collaboration with BIONIC

Please RSVP here

Body/modification. A discussion on distorted selves and distorting selves.

October 1, 2019, 7PM, 2185 LBME

Michigan Events

Body Modification: An Introduction

Confounding Extremities: Surgery at the Medico-ethical Limits of Self-Modification

Should we prevent non-therapeutic mutilation and extreme body modification?

Nonmainstream Body Modification- Genital Piercing, Branding, Burning, and Cutting

Body/art. A discussion on aesthetics.

October 15, 2019, 7PM, 2185 LBME

Michigan Events

Anchoring the (Postmodern) Self?: Body modification, fashion, and identity

Bodyworlds: The Art of Plastinated Cadavers

Bodyworlds and the ethics of using human remains: a preliminary discussion

What Should We Do about Eduard Pernkopf’s Atlas?

A bioethics of (dis)(ability), or: where to place the emphasis a panel-semi-guided discussion.

October 17, 2019, 2-4PM, Hatcher Library Gallery

An event sponsored by U-M Council for Disability Concerns; University Human Resources; Michigan Medicine; and the University Health Service

On artificial intelligence in medicine with Kayvan Najarian.

October 22, 2019, 12PM, NCRC B10 G065

In collaboration with BIONIC

Please RSVP here

Fear. A discussion past where we dare to tread.

October 29, 2019, 7PM, 2185 LBME

Michigan Events


A Method for Evaluating the Ethics of Fear Appeals

Does fear of retaliation deter requests for ethics consultation?

The Two Faces of Fear: A History of Hard-Hitting Public Health Campaigns Against Tobacco and AIDS

Professor Nobody’s Little Lectures on Supernatural Horror

Body/politics. A discussion on government.

November 12, 2019, 7PM, 2185 LBME

Michigan Events

Bioethics as Politics

‘Fat Ethics’: The Obesity Discourse and Body Politics

HB 481

A Man, Burning: Communicative Suffering and the Ethics of Images

On precision health 

November 19, 2018, 12PM, NCRC B10 G065

In collaboration with BIONIC

Please RSVP here

CitiesA discussion on our new environment.

November 26, 2019, 7PM, 2185 LBME

Michigan Events

Health and Urban Living

Urban Bioethics: Adapting Bioethics to the Urban Context

The Experience of Living in Cities

From the Urban to the Civic: The Moral Possibilities of the City

AntinatalismA discussion on the end to our means.

December 10, 2019, 7PM, 2185 LBME

The Last Messiah

Why It Is Better Never to Come into Existence

Every Conceivable Harm: A Further Defence of Anti-Natalism

The Ethics of Procreation and Adoption

On death positivity with Merilynne Rush. 

December 17, 2019, 12PM. NCRC B10 ACR1 


In collaboration with BIONIC

Please RSVP here

Others. A discussion on us and them, but mostly them.

January 14, 2020, 7PM, 2185 LBME

Neuroethics and the Problem of Other Minds: Implications of Neuroscience for the Moral Status of Brain-Damaged Patients and Nonhuman Animals

Undocumented Patients: Undocumented Immigrants and Access to Health Care

Bioethics and International Human Rights

Against culturally sensitive bioethics

A bioethackathon on I. health research funding with special guest.

January 21, 2020, 12PM, NCRC B10 ACR1

In collaboration with BIONIC

Please RSVP here

MichiganA discussion on our state.

January 28, 2020, 7PM, 2185 LBME

2019 State of the State

Michigan Health Policy for the Incoming 2019 Gubernatorial Administration

ACA Exchange Competitiveness in Michigan

Flint Water Crisis: What Happened and Why?

LoveA discussion on the chemistry of our biology.

February 11, 2020, 7PM, 2185 LBME

The Neurobiology of Love

The Medicalization of Love

Self-Transcendence, the True Self, and Self-Love 

 Love yourself: The relationship of the self with itself in popular self-help texts

A bioethackathon on II. model-to-model transitions.

February 18, 2020, 12PM, NCRC B10 ACR1

In collaboration with BIONIC

Please RSVP here

Overpopulation. A discussion on one too many.

February 25, 2020, 7PM, 2185 LBME

Having Children: Reproductive Ethics in the Face of Overpopulation

The Ethics of Controlling Population Growth in the Developing World

Overpopulation and the Threat of Ecological Disaster: The Need for Global Bioethics

Threats and burdens: Challenging scarcity-driven narratives of “overpopulation”

Public health. A discussion on the health of our society.

March 10, 2020, 7PM, 2185 LBME

The right to public health

Ethics and Public Health: Forging a Strong Relationship

Old Myths, New Myths: Challenging Myths in Public Health

A Bridge Back to the Future: Public Health Ethics, Bioethics, and Environmental Ethics

A bioethackathon on III. health medical entrepreneurship with David Canter.

March 24, 2020, 12PM, NCRC B10 ACR1


In collaboration with BIONIC

Please RSVP here

Solitude. A discussion on who we are when we are alone.

March 24, 2020, 7PM, 2185 LBME

Also available remotely via BlueJeans

The Solitude of Self

An overview of systematic reviews on the public health consequences of social isolation and loneliness

Individual Good and Common Good: A Communitarian Approach to Bioethics

Solitude: An Exploration of Benefits of Being Alone

Responsibility. A discussion on what we owe to ourselves and others.

April 7, 2020, 7PM, 2185 LBME

Social Responsibilities of Bioethics

The Concept of Responsibility: Three Stages in Its Evolution within Bioethics

Bioethics for Whom?

Towards an Ethics of Blame

A bioethackathon on IV. translational research. 

April 21, 2020, 9AM – 5PM, NCRC B10 ACR1


In collaboration with BIONIC

Please RSVP here

History. A discussion on the means to our ends.

April 21, 2020, 7PM, 2185 LBME

Bioethics and History

The History of Bioethics: Its Rise and Significance

What can History do for Bioethics?

“My Story Is Broken; Can You Help Me Fix It?”: Medical Ethics and the Joint Construction of Narrative

The theory of mind. A discussion on what we think others think.

September 15, 2020, 7PM, in front of LBME – Calendar Link

Michigan Events


Theory of Mind

Theory of mind: The state of the art

Theory of Mind and the Self

Why psychological accounts of personal identity can accept a brain death criterion and biological definition of death

Artificial intelligence. A discussion on what we know machines know.

September 29, 2020, 7PM, in front of LBME – Calendar Link

Michigan Events

Ethical Issues of Artificial Intelligence in Medicine

Regulatory responses to medical machine learning

Will artificial intelligence solve the human resource crisis in healthcare?

Medical ethics considerations on artificial intelligence

048. Artificial Parts (updated)

Artificial parts. A discussion on what is replaceable.

October 13, 2020, 5PM, in front of LBME – Calendar Link

Michigan Events

Implant ethics

Neuro-Prosthetics, the Extended Mind, and Respect for Persons with Disability

Why Not Artificial Wombs?

Going Out on a Limb: Prosthetics, Normalcy and Disputing the Therapy/Enhancement Distinction

Dia de los Muertos. A discussion on the celebration of the living and the dead.

October 27, 2020, 5PM, in front of LBME and remote

Michigan Events

Dead Bodies: The Deadly Display of Mexican Border Politics

Primum Non Nocere Mortuis: Bioethics and the Lives of the Dead

Cultures of Death: Media, Religion, Bioethics

The Day of the Dead, Halloween, and the Quest for Mexican National Identity

Democracy. A discussion we will choose to have.

November 10, 2020, 5PM, in front of LBME – Calendar Link

Michigan Events

Bioethics and Democracy

Bioethics and Populism: How Should Our Field Respond?

Crowdsourcing in medical research: concepts and applications

How Democracy Can Inform Consent: Cases of the Internet and Bioethics

The coming administration. A discussion on our (new?) government.

November 24, 2020, 7PM, going remote!

Michigan Events

Three Ways to Politicize Bioethics

Affording Obamacare

Confronting Deep Moral Disagreement: The President’s Council on Bioethics, Moral Status, and Human Embryos

The role of party politics in medical malpractice tort reforms

Annihilation. A discussion on our obliteration.

December 8, 2020, 7PM, gone remote

Michigan Events

Bioethics and the Metaphysics of Death

The Ontological Representation of Death: A Scale to Measure the Idea of Annihilation Versus Passage

The Nonidentity Problem and Bioethics: A Natural Law Perspective

Controversies in the Determination of Death: A White Paper of the President’s Council on Bioethics

The madness of crowds. A discussion on popular delusions.

January 12, 2021, 7PM, still remote – Calendar Link

Michigan Events

The Liverpool Cholera Epidemic of 1 and Anatomical Dissection—Medical Mistrust and Civil Unrest

The Wisdom of Crowds, the Madness of Crowds: Rethinking Peer Review in the Web Era

The Hippocratic Thorn in Bioethics’ Hide: Cults, Sects, and Strangeness

The Importance of Complying with Vaccination Protocols in Developed Countries: “Anti-Vax” Hysteria and the Spread of Severe Preventable Diseases

Population control. A discussion on limiting ourselves.

January 26, 2021, 7PM, we will see! – Calendar Link

Michigan Events

Population Control Policies and Fertility Convergence

Contraception and its ethical considerations

Must Growth Doom the Planet?

The Population Control Holocaust

Sex. A discussion on what we do.

February 9, 2021, 7PM, pandemic dependent, you understand – Calendar Link

Michigan Events

Sex Differences in Institutional Support for Junior Biomedical Researchers

Sex as an important biological variable in biomedical research

Deciding on Gender in Children with Intersex Conditions: Considerations and Controversies

The Use of Sex Robots: A Bioethical Issue

Artificial life. A discussion on new forms.

February, 23, 2021, 7PM, somewhere for sure – Calendar Link

Michigan Events

Is the creation of artificial life morally significant?

Why Do We Need Artificial Life?

Artificial Life

The Bioethicist Who Cried “Synthetic Biology”: An Analysis of the Function of Bioterrorism Predictions in Bioethics

Infection. A discussion spreading to others.

March 9, 2021, 7PM, maybe not all together in person for sadly obvious reasons – Calendar Link

Michigan Events

Evidence and Effectiveness in Decision-Making for Quarantine

The 1918 Influenza Pandemic: Insights for the 21st Century

From SARS to Ebola: Legal and Ethical Considerations for Modern Quarantine

Responding to the COVID-19 pandemic: Ethical considerations for conducting controlled human infection studies

Accidents. A discussion we were not meant to have.

March 23, 7PM, we will be careful about the location, lest fate snuff us out on our way there or from – Calendar Link

Michigan Events

Defining Failure: The Language, Meaning and Ethics of Medical Error

Taking the blame: appropriate responses to medical error

Medical Error and Moral Luck

When AIs Outperform Doctors: Confronting the Challenges of a Tort-Induced Over-Reliance on Machine Learning

Virtual reality. A discussion like any other?

April 6, 2021, 7PM, what even is the difference between “here” or “there”, man? – Calendar Link

Michigan Events

Internet-Delivered Health Interventions That Work: Systematic Review of Meta-Analyses and Evaluation of Website Availability

Ethics of Virtual Reality in Medical Education and Licensure

Wearables and the medical revolution

Creating Bioethics Distance Learning Through Virtual Reality

Abdication. A discussion on our renunciation.

April 20, 2021, 7PM, together responsibly – Calendar Link

Michigan Events

The Idea of Legitimate Authority in the Practice of Medicine

Decentralization of health care systems and health outcomes: Evidence from a natural experiment

Vox Populi or Abdication of Responsibility?: The Influence of the Irish Citizens’ Assembly on the Public Discourse Regarding Abortion, 2016-2019

Lifeboat Ethics: The Case Against Helping the Poor


Current and past partners in endeavor

The Biointerfaces Interlaboratory Committees, BIONIC (formerly the Biointerfaces Research Group, BIRG), partnered to create a series of Bioethical Lunches. Special guest moderators have included 

The Transforming Engineering Education co-Laboratory, TEEL, partnered to create Quantifying the Self: Three Lessons on Human Instrumentation.

Beta Mu Epsilon partnered as part of their 2018 initiation ceremony (creating a bioethical debate between two teams of four across two topics – animal experimentation and cloning).

Several biomedical engineering graduate and undergraduate students have partnered to create a bioethics-based podcast called Biodebatable.