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Bioethics & Medical Ethics

Another main focus of the IZE lies in the field of bioethics. Previous conferences covered central questions of medical ethics as for example rationing in health care, the ethics of procreation, and medical experimentation involving humans. In co-operation with the Brandenburg Federal State Office for Nutrition and Agriculture the IZE, in 1998, organised a conference on the question "Animals without Rights?" (= Tiere ohne Rechte?, Springer 1999). Beside its general focus, the conference at the same time worked as a Polish-German dialogue on animal ethics, confronting especially the problems of cross-border animal transportation.

On a grant by the German Federal Department for Education and Science the IZE, between 1998-2000, participated in the conceptual design and accomplishment of a three-step conference on the ethical and legal problems confronting human genome research. The conferences were organised in co-operation with the institute for criminal law and legal philosophy of the University of Erlangen-Nürnberg (Prof. Dr. Joachim Hruschka, Prof. Dr. B. Sharon Byrd). The first conference analysed ethical and legal challenges of human genome research against the background of a number of different ethical concepts. The second conference dealt with single "hard" cases – cases that had already caught the attention of the legal professions or other relevant branches. The third symposium discussed options for the legal regulation of human genome research in international scale. The rich outcomes of this perennial work are documented in the Annual Review of Law and Ethics which the IZE is co-editor of (JRE, Vols. 7, 9 and 10).

Since 1997 the IZE organises, in co-operation with the Institute for Ethics and History of Medicine at the Martin-Luther-University Halle-Wittenberg (Director: Prof. Dr. Josef N. Neumann) a working group on questions of the ethics and scientific theory of medicine. Special attention is given to the particular problems in this field as experienced in the transformation societies of Central and Eastern Europe. A number of meetings have since brought together experts from different branches of medicine as well as from law, philosophy, and the social sciences. Contributions to these meetings are published in the "Studies in Ethics in Eastern Central Europe" (= Studien zur Ethik in Ostmitteleuropa, Peter Lang 2000 and passim).

The publications (Medical Ethics 1-5 [=Medizinethik 1-5]) shed a light not only on the particular difficulties implicit in the transformation process of the health systems of many Eastern European countries, but also opens an encompassing perspective on the tradition and present of medical ethics discourse in Eastern Europe. This is especially true for the visiting scholars program on medical ethics in transformation contexts (published in Medical Ethics 3 [= Medizinethik 3]) the IZE organised in 2000 with generous financial support by the Otto-Wolff-Foundation (Cologne).

Currently, the IZE takes part in a European Union-funded research project about “Chimeras and Hybrids in Comparative European and International Research: Scientific, ethical, philosophical and legal aspects” (CHIMBRIDS) of the Institute of German, European and International Medical Law, Health Care Law and Bioethics of the Universities Heidelberg and Mannheim (IMGB).