Happy conference proceedings

The theme of the 4th ELSA Norway conference was how we proceed as ELSA/RRI researchers in diverse settings and projects. A total of 36 conference participants shared their experiences and reflections on this theme over two full days at MS Trollfjord, sailing from Tromsø to Trondheim. The presentations and discussions again showed the importance of the ELSA Norway venue. Hopefully, the ELSA Norway community will continue to have this kind of venue to meet and learn from each other in the future.

Thanks to all participants for their engagement. Special thanks to Rune Nydal for leading the work that made the 2018 conference happen, and to Tsjalling Swierstra and Hub Zwart for giving their valuable input on the ELSA Norway community from an international perspective.


Conference Program 2018

The Hurtigruta conference is approaching. Soon we set sails from Tromsø, to arrive in Trondheim two days later, waterlogged with wisdom.

Here you find the Program, and Abstracts.

Welcome on board the ELSA ship!


Look to Scandinavia?

Should the rest of the world look to Scandinavian neonatal intensive care? In a special supplement of Pediatrics, ELSA members Lars Ursin and Berge Solberg contribute to a thorough discussion of this question.

Ursin et al. state in their editorial:

“Scandinavian and international clinicians and bioethicists present, compare, and discuss the legislation, national guidelines, consensus documents, and practices in the field of neonatal care in Scandinavia. The central questions that bind these contributions together are whether there is a unified Scandinavian medicoethical approach or if, why, and how health care systems that seem to represent the same still differ in ethically significant ways. This supplement thus offers the reader an insight into the Scandinavian approach(es) and the lessons that can be learned.”

The whole Supplement can be found HERE


The future of reproduction

Department of Interdisciplinary Studies of Culture invites you to an international seminar to celebrate academic achievements of Professor Emerita Merete Lie.

The seminar is open to everyone, but please note that registration for lunch is closed.



Siri Øyslebø Sørensen (NTNU)

The Future of Reproduction in Art

Merete Lie (NTNU)

The Lie of the Land for Future Reproductions: Gender, Stratification and Imagery

Charis Thompson (UC Berkeley/ LSE)

The Egg Freezing Revolution? Gender, Education, and the “Missing Men” in Reproduction

Marcia C. Inhorn (Yale University)

Medically assisted reproduction; transformation from fragmented health service to an integrated industrial sector

Arne Sunde (NTNU)

Lunch/ film screening

Anja Johansen (NTNU)

Feminist Technoscience Studies: conception and death between domestication and uncontrollability

Nina Lykke (Linköping University)

Panel debate

Introduction by Malin Noem Ravn, Ingvill Stuvøy, An-Magritt Jensen (NTNU)


What is the value of seafood?

Last year, Dr. Mimi E. Lam started a 2-year Marie Skłodowska Curie Individual Fellowship at the University of Bergen (UiB), Centre for the Study of the Sciences and the Humanities (SVT). Her research project, ‘Enhancing Seafood Ethics and Sustainability (eSEAS): A Values and Ecosystem-based Management Approach’ “aims to explore new ways of securing seafood sustainability by embedding ethics and values in the management framework.” The project is premised on the problem that, despite increasing fisheries and oceans science, it is not always ‘taken up’ and marine resources continue to be harvested unsustainably and unethically. This, Mimi argues, is because marine management frameworks fail to properly account for the contested values at play: “If we can put values front and centre when developing decision-support tools within marine science and management frameworks, this will create policy decisions that ‘stick’”. eSEAS focuses on herring stocks and farmed salmon in Norway, and highlights the different social and natural values that make these species so important to the country, such as economic, ecological and cultural values.

From 22-24 May 2018, Mimi hosted an international workshop at the SVT to discuss The Ethics of Quantification: Modelling the Norwegian Spring-spawning Herring Fishery. Participants appraised the quality of three different modelling approaches currently being used to understand Norwegian herring dynamics and migration patterns and to provide scientific advice for fishery management. Workshop discussions focused on responsible quantification, model sensitivity analysis, knowledge quality assessment, fitness-for-function, and the incorporation of values in scientific advice for policy. The workshop assembled 11 participants from 3 specialities: (i) modellers from the Institute of Marine Research (IMR), Norway and the University of British Columbia (UBC), Canada, (ii) post-normal science scholars studying the science-policy interface (SVT), and (iii) herring experts specializing in scientific advice for policy (UiB, UBC, IMR, and the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea).

There were two main outcomes of the ethics workshop. First, an appreciation for the various strengths and weaknesses of the different modelling approaches for Norwegian herring, and hence their differing fitnesses for function. This led to an incipient collaboration to perform ‘complementary and comparative modelling’ to give a more comprehensive understanding of the herring dynamics and fishery. For example, using two different models to explore the same fishery scenarios in parallel, and then checking the consistency between them; something that is rarely done. Second, an appreciation for how models constrain ‘scenarios’ that are used to make decisions at the science-policy interface, as in fisheries management. This widened to a discussion of quality appraisal of scenarios and their different functions – from illustrating to advising. How to design fishery scenarios as deliberative and ethical decision-support tools fit for function will be explored in a paper at the PNS 4 symposium in Barcelona, November 2018.

For more information on the ethics workshop or eSEAS, contact Dr Mimi E. Lam: 


The eSEAS workshop group from May 2018: Mimi Lam, front row.


Discussing cancer biomarkers with international audiences

Spring and summer have been busy for the ELSA team – Anne Blanchard and Roger Strand – working with the Centre for Cancer Biomarkers (CCBIO).

In May they were visited by philosopher and medical ethicist Prof. Len Fleck from Michigan State University. On the 22nd of May Prof. Fleck gave a guest lecture at the Centre for the Study of Sciences and Humanities (SVT) titled ‘Precision medicine, ethical ambiguity: rough justice, ragged edges’. Later that week he was an invited speaker at the 6th CCBIO Annual symposium in Solstrand, where he talked about ‘Just caring challenges: visible biomarkers and invisible rationing’. Prof. Fleck’s critical reflection on the role, utility and costs of cancer biomarkers was well received by the CCBIO team, and triggered enthusiastic discussion.

In late June, both Roger and Anne travelled to the annual meeting of the Society for New and Emerging Technologies (SNET), held this year in Maastricht in the Netherlands. There they contributed to a pool of other talks and on-going discussions on medical technologies, including biomarkers. Anne presented new work using fictional texts to interrogate narratives and imaginaries of precision medicine for cancer. Particularly, she used Jose Saramago’s book ‘Death by Intervals’ as a stimulus for anticipating ethical and social concerns that arise with extreme longevity. Roger questioned the role of biomarkers when cancer will remain an important cause of death in highly developed healthcare, where other causes of death are less prevalent. He asserts that the imaginary of precision cancer medicine is therefore also one of science and technology for the anticipation of (inevitable) death.

For more detail on this work contact Anne (


ELSA conference 2018

The fourth biannual ELSA Norway conference take place at Hurtigruten, sailing from Tromsø to Trondheim, November 2nd-4th 2018.

Understanding differences as a resource for ELSA research, the ELSA Norway conferences offers unique opportunities to connect researchers that, in spite of differences, share interests in research that identify, analyze and respond to ethical, legal and societal concerns of emerging science and technology.

See the current call for contributions HERE


Bringing personalized medicine to people

ELSA Norway member Isabelle Budin Ljøsne will defend her PhD thesis «Bringing personalized medicine to people» Friday April 27th. In her work, she and her colleagues have explored what researchers and patient organization representatives consider to be obstacles to patient access to personalized medicine. They have also explored the expectations put on patients and citizens in the effort to achieve personalized medicine, and whether these expectations are realistic. Budin Ljøsne found that several economic, organizational, legal, ethical and societal challenges can prevent patient access to personalized medicine. The work may inform future steps in the development and implementation of a national personalized medicine strategy in Norway. The work will further be useful to consider for any government implementing personalized medicine, in particular the European ones which have been studied thoroughly in Budin Ljøsne’s thesis.

The papers that constitute the basis for Budin Ljøsne’s thesis are all published and already much cited in the ELSI community worldwide. They can be found via the following links:

Feedback of individual genetic results to research participants: Is it feasible in Europe?

Ask not what personalized medicine can do for you – Ask what you can do for personalized medicine

Patient and interest organizations’ views on personalized medicine: a qualitative study

Dynamic Consent: a potential solution to some of the challenges of modern biomedical research 

The trial lecture, titled «Personalized medicine: Ethical and policy challenges» will take place in the auditorium of Fredrik Holsts house Friday April 27th at 11:15. The defense will start at 13:15.

We congratulate!​


Unravelling scientific controversy around endocrine disrupters in Europe

PhD researcher Dafne Lemus, at the Centre for the Study of the Sciences and the Humanities (SVT), is looking at the role of scientific uncertainty and dissent in controversies around endocrine disrupters. The SVT has a history of research on such controversies, including the work of Dafne’s principal supervisor Prof. Jeroen van der Sluijs on the effect of neonicotides (pesticides) on bees.

Endocrine disrupters are chemicals, both naturally occurring and synthetic, which can be found in many everyday products, from clothing to face creams. They are accused of interfering with the normal functioning of our hormonal systems, with for instance women reaching puberty early, or reduced sperm quality in men. Yet despite mounting studies it is difficult to reach a scientific consensus concerning the precise significance of endocrine disrupters’ exposure to disease causation, progression and susceptibility. This poses the question: how can we pass policy on the acceptability of these chemicals in the face of scientific controversy?

Dafne started this research in her master’s thesis where she tried to find out why Denmark and Norway, essentially using the same corpus of scientific studies, could arrive at such different policies on endocrine disrupters. She found that different policies emerge from different interpretations of the science, with some institutions taking a precautionary approach while others think in terms of risk assessment. It also relates to the decision-making level; in Denmark the decision was up to central government politicians, while in Norway it was devolved to the bureaucrats in the ministries and agencies.

In her PhD research Dafne has started to look deeper into this controversy, from three perspectives. First the scientific dimension, employing knowledge quality assessment tools to explore the relative quality of the different scientific studies into endocrine disrupters. Second the institutional dimension, looking at how decision-making institutions shape and are shaped by this controversy. And third the wider societal discourse in Europe on the controversy.

For more information on Dafne’s work please email her at:


To ledige stillinger som førsteamanuensis/professor ved Senter for medisinsk etikk

Ved Senter for medisinsk etikk ved Universitetet i Oslo er det nå ledig to 100 % stillinger som førsteamanuensis/professor i medisinsk etikk. 

Utlysningen finnes her. Søknadsfristen er 11. mars 2018.

Du kan lese mer om Senter for medisinsk etikk her.