Solidarity: a core value in bioethics

15 August 2011

Solidarity in bioethics has received increasing attention but it is often unclear what the concept means.

Together with the Arts and Humanities Research Council, we have funded the Nuffield Council on Bioethics to develop a new working definition of solidarity and apply it to policy making in the areas of biobanks, pandemics and lifestyle disease. 

The Council has awarded Dr Barbara Prainsack a six-month fellowship to carry out this work. Dr Prainsack is a Reader in Medicine, Science & Society at the King’s College’s Centre for Biomedicine & Society. She is a political scientist whose main research interest lies at the interface of science, politics, and society.

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She has worked on the governance of genomics in medicine and forensics. She also has significant policy experience, for example as a member of the National Bioethics Council in Austria and as the UK member of the European Co-operation in the field of Science and Technology (COST) Domain Committee for Individuals, Societies, Cultures and Health.

Dr Prainsack said of the project: “Focusing on the meaning of solidarity is important in bioethics and also in light of the economic crisis. We are currently in a political climate where many feel that solidarity has lost currency and people are left to their own devices”.

The Council will publish its report on 30 November 2011. For further information, visit the Nuffield Council on Bioethics website