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The Centre for Professional ethics is an internationally known research institution at the University of Central Lancashire in Preston. Since its establishment in 1993, it has gained a reputation for excellence in applied philosophy, particularly in bioethics and global ethics.

Research activity within the Centre for Professional Ethics analyses the institutional frameworks that contribute to the growing divide between the rich and the poor, with findings and results feeding directly into policy making and planning.

With a network of global collaborators, work takes place with UNESCO, the Chinese Ministry of Science and Technology, the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, the Indian Ministry of External Affairs (RIS), the World Health Organisation (WHO), Action against Hunger, a range of African NGOs, government advisory bodies throughout the world, and a number of leading global academic institutions.

This research group contributes to the cross-disciplinary research sub-theme Evidence for Societal Change.

Key areas of research include:

  • responsible research and innovation
  • fair benefit sharing
  • intellectual property rights and their impact on access to medicines for the poor
  • ethical governance of science in Europe, China and India.


The Director of the Centre, Professor Doris Schroeder, serves on a variety of expert committees for the European Commission and also advises the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research and the National Research Foundation in South Africa on a regular basis.

She has been invited to all continents and most European countries to present her research on benefit sharing and has collaborated with ministries in Kenya, South Africa and Brazil.

Dr Miltos Ladikas has served as a Science Policy Adviser to the UNESCO East-Asian Office.

Professor Thomas Pogge’s work on an intellectual property rights reform plan (undertaken at Yale, the Australian National University and UCLan) has been highlighted by the WHO, the Organisation for Co-operation and Development, through publication in Nature Medicine and by a group of highly influential supporters, including the President of the British Academy and the Chairman of the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence.


Doris Schroeder

Professor of Moral Philosophy and Director of Centre

Thomas Pogge

Professor of Political Philosophy

Amitava Banerjee

Senior Research Fellow

Miltos Ladikas

Senior Research Fellow

David Coles        

Research Fellow



(Director of Studies: Prof. Thomas Pogge, 2nd supervisor Prof. Doris Schroeder)

Health metrics are indicators employed to assess changes in population health. They can measure a wide variety of factors, from the burden of a specific disease or effectiveness of treatments, to identifying cultural, social or political (to name a few) factors influencing population health. The “population” in question may also refer to individuals, citizens of a state, a single gender, race or economic class, or any other combination of groups, as the study requires. A metric that could be applied universally, and produce comparable results across populations would be of great use to addressing global health challenges. However there are a wide range of ethical issues that must be addressed as part of the development of a universal metric. This research is concerned specifically with metrics for the purpose of assessing or rewarding therapies. It seeks to assess the feasibility of an ethically sound universal metric that can assess therapies applied across multiple domains such as disease, location, gender, culture, and economic status, with the aim of addressing global health inequalities.



The Ethical Foundation of Health Care (In)Justice in Africa: A Case Study from Nigeria

Samuel Ujewe

(Director of Studies: Prof. Doris Schroeder, 2nd Supervisor Dr. Miltos Ladikas)

Just health care has notably been neglected in Sub-Saharan Africa. This research project aims to establish the ethical basis for the lack of just care among health practitioners and administrators in Nigeria. It will explore ethical value systems and approaches to professional ethics in the Nigerian socio-cultural context, in a bid to identify specific conception(s) of justice. This will be done against the background of the wider African ethical framework and the idea of global justice. Using the Nigerian health care system as a case study, the research will establish discrepancies in notions of justice which may contribute to the lack of just care provided by practitioners and administrators. Based on this research, suggestions for improvements to practice in the Nigerian health care system will be made.


Equitable Access to Human Genetic Resources ‑ Balancing Benefit Sharing and Undue Inducement

Roger Chennells

(Director of Studies: Prof. Doris Schroeder, 2nd supervisor Dr. Peter Herissone‑Kelly)

Medical and pharmaceutical researchers need access to biological resources. Without such access, the progress of scientific research would be hindered considerably. Access to and benefit sharing for human biological resources (e.g. blood samples, DNA samples) is not regulated through an international legal framework such as the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), which only governs access to plants, animals, micro‑organisms, and traditional knowledge. This ethical and legal vacuum is becoming more and more problematic as the Indonesian government's withholding of avian influenza samples from WHO‑affiliated laboratories in December 2006 has shown. The Indonesian government argued that it held sovereignty over Indonesian biological resources, and given that Indonesian specimens were crucial to the development of an avian flu vaccine, it would only release further samples, if the benefits of such research were made available to the Indonesian population. One of the problems of agreeing benefit sharing procedures for access to human biological resources is the fear of undue inducement. Ironically, strict prohibitions against undue inducement lead to a rather paradoxical result. The poorer a community is, the smaller the benefits that can be offered so as not to unduly influence the decision to participate. This paradox needs to be resolved in the face of ever increasing concerns about the exploitation of developing country research participants.

The overall research question of this research is: How can access to human genetic resources, such as blood or DNA samples, be governed to achieve justice for developing countries? The specific aspect that will be focused on is: How can benefit sharing be achieved without undue influence through inappropriate inducement?

Roger Chennells is from South Africa and the research is funded by a Wellcome Trust Studentship.


Towards a Global Ethics? The Case of S &T Policy for Nanotechnology

Sally Dalton‑Brown

(Director of Studies: Prof. Doris Schroeder, 2nd supervisor Dr. Miltos Ladikas)

Nanotechnology has been described as equivalent ‘to the development that kick‑started the industrial revolution’, as potentially the road to salvation for developing countries dealing with issues of energy production, agricultural productivity enhancement, and water treatment. At the same time, it has been termed a ‘Faustian’ bargain that may yet lead to global destruction. A summary of ‘nanorisks’ or ‘nanopportunities’ included ‘ownership of technology and accountability; privacy, security, surveillance … human enhancement, and public involvement in technology development’. To this one might add environmental impact, the question of distributive justice, given nanotechnology’s potential for assisting developing countries and medical risks – is nanotech potentially ‘the next asbestos’? All these issues raise ethical questions. The primary aim of the thesis is to assess whether a global approach to governing nanotechnology is feasible.

Sally Dalton‑Brown is from South Africa and funded through a Uclan Scholarship.

kate Chatfield

Complementary and Alternative Medicine – Analysing Ethical Challenges

Kate Chatfield

(Director of Studies: Prof Doris Schroeder; 2nd supervisor Dr. Peter Herissone‑Kelly)

The United Kingdom has witnessed a dramatic upsurge in popularity of all forms of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) over the past 30 years. More recently this increase in popularity has been met with objections from many different sources. The primary objection to wide scale use of CAM interventions is focussed upon the lack of a rigorous evidence base for most types of CAM as is required for conventional medical health care. As a result, one can observe an increased demand and use of CAM accompanied by an increase in objections to its use and no way of easily resolving the fundamental debate about efficacy. In light of this controversy many ethical questions arise about the production, promotion, usage, and teaching of CAM. Through use of the so-called Ethical Matrix, a bioethical methodology developed by Ben Mepham, ethical challenges will be identified and analysed for a variety of stakeholders. The primary aim of this thesis is to analyse ethical challenges to CAM in a situation where there is disagreement about efficacy.


Feminism in Multicultural Societies: an analysis of Dutch multicultural and postsecular developments and their implications for feminist debates

Eva Midden

(Director of Studies: Dr Miltos Ladikas, 2nd Supervisor Prof. Doris Schroeder)

According to the political scientist Susan Moller Okin there are fundamental conflicts between our commitment to gender equality and the desire to respect the customs of minority cultures or religions. If we agree that women should not be disadvantaged because of their sex, she argues, we should not accept group rights that permit oppressive practices. Okin’s claims led to a complex and highly theoretical academic debate.

Three main criticisms were raised against her thesis:

  • Okin’s viewpoint is one-sided, as she only evaluated minority cultures and not Western liberal societies.
  • Okin fails to recognise differences within groups other than gender differences.
  • Okin seems to have an ahistorical and static vision of cultures.

One of the main arguments in the debate prioritises gender equality over multiculturalism, thus disregarding other important categories like ethnicity, socio-economic background and life-style.

The main aim of this research project is to redefine the relationship between multiculturalism and feminism and provide empirical input into the debate by analysing different discourses on this issue in the Netherlands. Both the discussions in the media and the debates among women involved in grass-roots organisations are investigated through a comparative discourse analysis based on the theory of intersectional analysis.


Vulnerability and Exploitation in Biomedical Research, a Developing Country Perspective

Peter Omonzejele

(Director of Studies: Prof Doris Schroeder, 2nd Supervisor Dr Miltos Ladikas)

Peter Omonzejele from Nigeria submitted his PhD thesis, less than three years since he started his research in 2005. He worked under the supervision of Professor Doris Schroeder (Director of Studies), Dr Miltos Ladikas and two colleagues from the Philosophy Section, ISCRI (International School for Communities, Rights and Inclusion).

Peter’s thesis was entitled, Vulnerability and Exploitation in Biomedical Research, a Developing Country Perspective. It investigated ethical issues in biomedical research involving vulnerable participants in developing countries.

Questions asked included:

  • What constitutes exploitation in biomedical research?
  • What are the contributing factors that make research participants in developing countries particularly vulnerable to exploitation?
  • Why have various international guidelines been unable to address effectively the problem of exploitation in biomedical research, especially in developing countries?
  • What are the parameters for evaluating genuine and voluntary informed consent undertaken amongst vulnerable populations?

Particular emphasis was placed on the question:

What constitutes adequate compensation to research participants in developing countries?

Previous PhD Completions in the Centre for Professional Ethics:

Peter Herissone-Kelly – Situations, Incentives and Reasons - Kant on Rational Agency and Moral Motivation (2008)

Fran Speed - The relational basis of "aesthetic" concern and its implications for environmental theory and practice (2008)

Elena Fell - Duration, Temporality and Self: Prospects for the Future of Bergsonism, (2007)

Jane Sullivan - The use of animals for medical experimentation: an analysis of young people’s perceptions in Britain (2006)

Ann Gallagher – Healthcare Virtues and Professional Education (2003)

Related Projects

Ongoing Projects


REWARD - Performance-based Innovation Rewards


Funded by the European Commission, Framework 7, Co-ordinator.

Completed Projects

Funded by the European Commission , Framework 7, Co-ordinator.

Bilateral Support for the International Linkage with Kina (BILAT SILK), funded by the European Commission, Framework 7.

Genomics and Benefit Sharing with Developing Countries - From Biodiversity to Human Genomics, funded by the European Commission Framework 6, Co-ordinator.

Developing Ethical Governance
Wellcome Trust; Principal Investigator

Facilitating International Prospective Clinical Trials in Stem Cell Transplantation, funded by the European Commission. Framework 6.

Ethics in Mongolian and South-East Asian Science and Technology, funded by the European Commission under Framework VI, Principle Investigator.

Prior Informed Consent and Benefit Sharing. Wellcome Trust: Principal Investigator.

Genomics and Benefit Sharing with Developing Countries (BeSha). European Commission's Sixth Framework Programme, Science and Society: Co-Ordinator.

EuroPHEN 2003-2006
PublicPolicies, Law and Bioethics: A Framework for Producing Public Health Policy Across the European Union by Examining Concepts of European and Universal Ethical Standards (EuroPHEN). European Commission's Fifth Framework Programme Quality of Life and Management of Living Resources, 2003-2006 (project continued at the University of Manchester, 2005-2006).

NorFA 2001-2004
The Ethics of Genetic and Medical Information. A Nordic Academy of Advanced Study (NorFA) Network, 2001-2004: Partner.

ELSAGEN 2001-2004
Ethical, Legal and Social Aspects of Human Genetic Databases: A European Comparison (ELSAGEN). European Commission's Fifth Framework Programme Quality of Life, 2001-2004: Management Board Member.

Functional Foods 2001-2004
Doris Schroeder participated in a three year technology assessment project funded by the German Ministry of Science and the European Academy, Ahrweiler, Germany.

EMPIRE 2000-2003
Mairi Levitt participated in a three year project funded under Framework 5 entitled 'Empirical methods in bioethics', with a share in a total budget of 450,000 euros. The project involves ten researchers from the European Union and Israel. The co-ordinator is Dr Søren Holm from Manchester University. There has been increasing interest in empirical studies of bioethical problems but there are both methodological and conceptual problems in gaining relevant empirical information. The project's objective was to provide a comprehensive account of the problems and an analysis of their possible solutions.

Gene Week 2001-2002
Project funded under the Wellcome Trust Medicine in Society programme as a novel means of consulting the public about genetics. A series of articles on medicine and genetics were published in the Lancashire Evening Post and its associated website and readers were invited to respond with their views. Grant holder: Mairi Levitt

EuroGenBank 1998-2000
The Centre is a co-operating partner in a project funded by the European Commission entitled 'Banking of Genetic Material Data in Europe: Legal, Ethical and Economical Issues'. Ruth Chadwick has taken on the responsibility to co-ordinate the project's activities in the UK collecting information related to the status of the material/data stored; the status of the storing institution; the regulatory framework of the activities involved and the intellectual property rights at stake.

Xenotransplantation in Europe 1998-2001
The Centre is participating in a project funded by the European Commission's Biotechnology programme entitled 'Xenotransplantation: Ethical, Social, Economical and Legal Aspects'. The project examines the situation with regard to xenotransplantation across Europe.

Euro Elsav (ital. European Vaccine Policies) 1997-2000
The Centre is involved in a project exploring the major ethical, legal, and social concerns surrounding vaccine policies in research and public health. Staff at the Centre have taken on the responsibility, to co-ordinate the project's activities in the area of ethical, legal and social aspects of vaccine research and policies in vulnerable populations.

Euroscreen II 1996-99
Funded under BIOMED 2, this project further develops some themes of Euroscreen (see below). The title of the project is: 'Genetic Screening: Towards Community Policy on Insurance, Commercialisation and Public Awareness'. The public awareness strand of Euroscreen II included funding for the Centre, in co-operation with the Royal Manchester Children's Hospital, to open a gene shop - a non-commercial information service about genetics - at Manchester Airport.

Cultural and social objection to biotechnology 1995-96
The subtitle of this project is 'Analysis of the arguments with special reference to the views of young people, funded by the European Union under the Biotech programme. The project had three objectives: first, to use philosophical methods to analyse concepts of risk and safety; second, to carry out a pilot study among young people aged 11 to 18 in schools in Germany, Finland, Spain and the UK. The empirical research was focused on three non-human applications of biotechnology - to food, animals and the environment; third, to combine the philosophical and empirical insights and identify procedures for a more detailed comparison of the development of cultural and social objections to biotechnology.

Euroscreen - Genetic Screening: Ethical and Philosophical Perspectives, 1993-96
Ruth Chadwick was co-ordinator of this project funded by the EU under Biomed 1. The multinational team represented the disciplines of philosophy, sociology, theology, genetics, public health, law, history of medicine and anthropology. A EUROSCREEN newsletter was published by the Centre.