The Horizon 2020 SwafS project HYBRIDA, a seven-university consortium which includes the Université catholique de Louvain, is recruiting a three-year postdoctoral fellow in bioethics, to specialize on the project’s topic of the ethics of contemporary organoid research. The UCLouvain team is led by Prof. Mylène Botbol-Baum and Prof. Charles Pence, and the postdoc will be co-supervised, housed in two research centers: Centre de recherche en éthique de la santé (HELESI, our center in ethics of healthcare, of which Pr. Botbol-Baum is director) and Centre de philosophie des sciences et sociétés (CEFISES, our center in philosophy of science, of which Pr. Pence is director).
Application deadline: October 1, 2020
Starting date: As early as January 1, 2021
Ending date: 36 months after official start date
The abstract for the HYBRIDA project as a whole is the following:
Since Roman law, all entities have been categorized and regulated either as persons or as things (subjects or objects). However, this conceptual, epistemological and regulatory dualism is currently being challenged by disruptive research and innovation, among which organoid research is a prominent example. The dualistic normative framework pertaining to health and life science research are disrupted by three different kinds of uncertainty. First, conceptual uncertainty (ontological uncertainty): how should one conceive of entities that cannot be categorized as either persons or things? What are they? Second, epistemological and methodological uncertainty: How do we know the characteristics of these entities called organoids? How do we address forms of uncertainty that cannot be evaluated through the use of statistical methods, i.e. risk? Epistemological uncertainty comes in two kinds, which can be categorized as qualitative, or strict, uncertainty and ignorance or non-knowledge. In order to develop ethically and socially robust ways of assessing the effects of organoid research and related technologies, there is a need to include these additional forms of uncertainty in the Health Technology Assessment (HTA). Third, regulatory uncertainty: this uncertainty emerges because parts of regulatory frameworks concerning the rights and duties of persons have been merged with elements of regulation dealing with the stewardship of objects or things. These forms of uncertainty are of particular importance. This project aims to address how these uncertainties arise in organoid research and develop a conceptual and regulatory framework able to overcome this dualism. From this follows also the need to communicate the potential and possible pitfalls of organoid research in ways that convey realistic, instead of hyped, scenarios.
As noted above, this is a seven-university consortium, with each group taking responsibility for various elements of this large scope. Our group will be primarily involved in the first work package for this grant, which will explore the ontological, moral and legal status of organoids, chimeric entities and hybrids present in different cultures and knowledge traditions, with a view to identifying different forms of conceptual uncertainty both in the general public and within the scientific community itself.
We encourage candidates from a wide variety of backgrounds to apply, as our team integrates work from a variety of different perspectives.
Candidates must have:
Other characteristics that would improve the quality of an application:
This postdoctoral research fellowship is funded by the European Community’s Horizon 2020 Science with and for Society (SwafS) call H2020-SwafS-28-2020, project number 101006012.
Candidates are asked to prepare the following materials:
The candidate is asked to submit all relevant materials using AcademicJobsOnline: https://academicjobsonline.org/ajo/jobs/16615, prior to October 1, 2020. (AJO is free for applicants, and also includes support for the submission of your confidential letters of recommendation.) All candidates will be notified of final decisions no later than November 1, 2020.
Prof. Pence has prepared some materials that describe life as a postdoctoral fellow at UCLouvain, which you can find here: https://pencelab.be/people/postdoc/.
The position is also listed on Euraxess.