Event: Preconception health and healthy life trajectories (HeLTI study)

25 September 2019 | 12:30-13:30 | Anatomy Museum

Join Professor Shane Norris as he explores health interventions before conception, which are proving to help offset child obesity. He will also talk about how to optimise the preconception health of women in order to offset health risks and set up healthier trajectories for their offspring.

Find more information

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Rachel Siden Bioethics & Society alumna talks about her experience as study coordinator for the “Healthy Aging and Neighborhood Study” at UMass Medical School


Rachel Siden, Bioethics & Society alumna (class of 2017)

We are delighted to announce the career trajectory of Rachel Siden, Bioethics & Society alumna (class of 2017), at the intersection of bioethics, public health, ageing and society.
Rachel is currently a Study Coordinator for “The Healthy Aging and Neighborhood Study“at UMass Medical School in Worcester, in MA. The study, funded by the US National Institute on Aging, focuses on fall risk in the elderly, and investigates how neighbourhood environment and activity level are related to fall risk and overall health.

This is what Rachel says about her job and how the Bioethics & Society programme prepared her for the job:

“There is a lot of emphasis on social determinants of health in this study, which my bioethics degree in the GHSM  department more than prepared me for! My modules and coursework trained me to look beyond individual health to the social context that surrounds it, and I do that at my job every day: Could increased fall risk be linked to something as simple as living in a neighbourhood with neglected sidewalks or streets? How greatly does income level or living in an unsafe neighbourhood impact someone’s ability to get out of the house and exercise regularly?

I do recruitment by presenting the study in different places in the community, and then I do field visits where I meet with participants, give them surveys, and give them a device that measures and tracks their location and physical activity for a week.

I absolutely love my job, because I get to meet many interesting people and learn an incredible amount about aging. I am also learning about the process for running a study from start to finish and all that goes into it. I also love the people I work with, and my supervisor is a wonderful mentor to me by giving me projects that will help build my skills and my resume. Right now, we are working together on a paper on our methods for recruiting participants from minority populations. The principal investigator, Dr. Wenjun Li, had the very ambitious goal of recruiting at least 33% from minority populations, and we managed to exceed the goal and enrol a very racially diverse group of participants.

I have also just finished working on a small second study for the Massachusetts Department of Health surveying Massachusetts-based pharmacies, and I still occasionally write for the UK-based website BioNews [as you can see a list of my articles here].

I have recently decided to apply for my PhD, so I know this fall will be a busy one for me! I want to continue studying issues in bioethics and I potentially want focus on issues at the intersections of religion and medicine. I’ve already spoken to an administrator from a medical anthropology program that I am interested in, and she confirmed that my MA in Bioethics & Society will be an excellent plus.

Overall, I’m so thankful to have a job in the health research field that I enjoy, especially one that has hired me full-time and gives me all of the benefits and security that comes with it. For now, life is pretty wonderful, and I’m so thankful for my bioethics education and where it has brought me!”

Congratulations Rachel for everything you’ve achieved so far and best of luck  for your  upcoming PhD applications!

You can contact Rachel at:


and follow her on twitter at:


You can learn more about the Bioethics & Society programme here:


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Congratulations to Dr Frances Butcher Bioethics & Society alumna for being awarded a prestigious Wellcome Trust Research Fellowship for Health Professionals

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Dr Frances Butcher

Dr Frances Butcher, Bioethics & Society alumna (class of 2016) and currently a Specialty Registrar/Doctor in Public Health at the Oxford School of Public Health, has been awarded a Wellcome Trust Research Fellowship for Health Professionals to fund a DPhil/PhD at the Ethox Centre, University of Oxford, for a project titled “An Ethics Account of Global Health Security”, under the supervision of Professor Mike Parker and Dr Patricia Kingori.

This is what she says about the Bioethics and Society programme:

“The Master’s in Bioethics & Society at King’s College London has been instrumental to both my career and successfully applying for this fellowship and DPhil.

In public health practice, I don’t think ethical aspects are always given the high degree of attention they deserve, but the master’s equipped me with the ability to identify, approach, and analysis issues I encounter in my practice.

I’m now excited to combine my practice in public health with my research interest in bioethics by considering ethical dimensions of global health security for my DPhil.

As well as research skills for writing the application and defending it at interview (which have been invaluable!), the ongoing support I’ve received whilst at King’s, and even after graduating, really makes you appreciate just how much the faculty care about your future and aid you in your career.

Recently, I’m been working on developing an biosecurity eLearning project, ‘Act like a Pro’ which brought me back to King’s to film Dr Filippa Lentzos whom was one of the lecturers on the master’s. As well being a key biosecurity expert filmed for the eLearning scenarios, Filippa’s been a fantastic mentor for this project.

Opportunities like this eLearning and the DPhil just wouldn’t have been possible without King’s Master’s in Bioethics & Society”.

Frances graduated from Brighton and Sussex Medical School and worked as a clinical doctor in Bristol before studying Bioethics & Society at King’s in the Department of Global Health & Social Medicine. In 2015/16, Frances was the recipient of a competitive Postgraduate Bursary to support her studies at King’s College London.

For info about the Bioethics & Society programme contact Dr Silvia Camporesi.

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Announcing the 2019 Lewis Headley Public Lecture “Complex Decisions in Paediatric End of Life Care” Friday September 20th

We are delighted to announce the 2019 Institute of Medical Ethics Lewis Headley Public Lecture, which will take place on Friday September 20th at Imperial College and focus on the important and timely topic of “Complex Decisions in Paediatric End of Life Care”.

This year’s lecture will feature a panel consisting of Stephanie Nimmo, Giles Birchley and Emma Nottingham and will be chaired by Prof Dominic Wilkinson.

This event is free to attend but booking is required. Click here to book.


5.00-5.45 Registration
5.45-6.45 Lecture
6.45-7.15 AGM
7.15 Drinks reception


Professor Dominic Wilkinson, Professor of Medical Ethics, Director of Medical Ethics, Oxford Uehiro Centre for Practical Ethics. Dominic is a physician specialising in newborn intensive care and medical ethics. He is a consultant neonatologist at the John Radcliffe Hospital, and Director of Medical Ethics at the University of Oxford Uehiro Centre for Practical Ethics.


Stephanie Nimmo: Stephanie is an award-winning, London-based writer, freelance journalist, marketing consultant, trainer, public speaker & campaigner. She is focussed mainly on the health & social care sectors with an emphasis on issues around paediatric palliative care, disability, learning disability, autism and issues affecting carers.

Giles Birchley: Giles is a children’s intensive care nurse who has been working in bioethics at the University of Bristol’s Centre for Ethics in Medicine since 2012. The ethical dilemmas surrounding children’s medical treatment, as well as wider issues raised by decision-making on behalf of others, are a key interest.

Emma Nottingham: Emma is a senior lecturer in law at the University of Winchester. Her research specialises in children’s rights and medical law & ethics. She is particularly interested in the legal & ethical implications of medical decision-making concerning children.

For info about this event write to:


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Lienkie Diedericks reports from the 25th Annual Conference for Medical Law – August 5th-9th, 2019 Tokyo, Japan

This blog post was written by Heilien (Lienkie) Diedericks, PhD candidate in Global Health & Social Medicine.

From the 5th to the 9th of August 2019, I had the pleasure to attend the 25th Annual Conference for the World Association for Medical Law (WAML) in Japan, Tokyo. It was a vibrant meeting consisting of more than 200 delegates from all over the world. One of the central aims of the 25th meeting was to ‘construct a bridge between medical law, bioethics and legal medicine’. Consequently, while most of the presentations were from a legal perspective, almost each paper attempted to tease out ethical implications arising from within (and without) their chosen legal frameworks. What was striking, however, was the absence of bioethics and medical ethics scholars both in presenting and attending the conference. I was one of the few presenters with a mainly bioethics/ethics background, and I found some of the legal discussions touching only superficially on ethically complex issues. As such, I believe this conference illustrates anew the need for sustained interdisciplinary collaboration between the medical legal profession, bioethics, and the medical humanities.

My own presentation focussed on the ethical implications of regulating pharmaceutical drugs embedded with digital sensors in a rapidly evolving digital health regulatory environment. I concluded that ethical dilemmas occur at a number of junctions in the regulation of Abilify Mycite, the first ‘digital pill’ to be approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). It seems that little ethical deliberation was given about the effects that such a product might have on patients, and if the potential benefits would exceed potential harms. Indeed, the FDA released no guidance on the ethical use of Abilify MyCite. An ethical risk-benefit analysis is blatantly missing when one considers that Abilify MyCite was never approved by the FDA to improve medication-taking adherence – precisely one of the supposed benefits to patients. Furthermore, the way that Abilify MyCite was regulated through the FDA 510(k) process highlights how current regulation and policy lags behind a rapidly evolving digital health sector. Such a lag in regulation could lead to ineffective and potentially harmful approvals. It is therefore crucial that ethicists and regulatory specialists alike take up the challenge to address the rapidly evolving regulatory landscape of digital medicine more broadly.

My presentation was well-received, and I was awarded the 2019 Young Scientist Award for Outstanding Presentation – one of the two awards given annually to a researcher under the age of 35. ImageThe paper on which my work is based has also gone through for consideration for the Davies Award, a larger prize which will be decided upon at the 2020 Annual WAML Conference in Toronto.


Lienkie Diedericks (right) at the WAML conference in Tokyo, Japan August 5th-9th, 2019

Attending this conference, with the generous funding of the Institute of Medical Ethics, is one of the many opportunities that has resulted from completing the MSc in Bioethics and Society at King’s. The strength of the work produced at the GHSM is that it is sensitive to the narratives of those affected by biotechnologies and medical issues more broadly, and that it is interdisciplinary. This approach to research chimes well with the conference’s opening address by Prof Rihito Kimura: a moving call to action. A survivor of the Hiroshima bombing during the Second World War, Prof Kimura traced his life-story as it intersected with emerging biotechnologies. He stressed the importance of researchers to pay close attention to the narratives of persons ‘on the ground’, thereby ensuring that our academic theory and research is grounded in an ethical sensitivity which permeates every decision. He ended his opening address with an affecting poem, ‘When We say Hiroshima’ by Sadako Kurihara. I conclude with a short extract:

For the gentle response, “Ah, Hiroshima,”

we would have to abandon our weapons as we were supposed to do so,

We would have to get rid of the foreign military bases in Japan.

Until that day,

Hiroshima will remain a city embittered by cruelty and distrust.

We will remain a pariah scorched by radioactivity.

For the gentle response, “Ah, Hiroshima,”

We must first cleanse our soiled hands.

About the author

Heilien (Lienkie) Diedericks is a PhD candidate in the Department of Global Health & Social Medicine. Her research is part of the Health System Strengthening in Sub-Saharan Africa (ASSET) project. Her PhD is funded generously by the NIHR ASSET grant and the Oppenheimer Memorial Trust (South Africa).

Lienkie completed a MSc in Bioethics and Society at King’s, with her dissertation focusing on the ethical and regulatory implications of pharmaceutical drugs being embedded with ingestible sensors to track adherence.

Lienkie has written for the Guardian about the digital pill. You can read her piece here:


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