“Stem Cells: Science, Ethics, and Theology”

“Stem Cells: Science, Ethics, and Theology” is an Emmanuel Centre seminar with Dr Nathan Palpant, Professor Megan Munsie, and Dr Paul Tyson on Monday 18 September. The seminar will run from 12 noon till 2.15pm in the Riverview Room at Emmanuel College and will include lunch. RSVP here.

Science: Dr Nathan Palpant is a stem cell biologist with a focus on cardiovascular development and disease. With research training from the University of Michigan and University of Washington, he established the Stem Cell and Cardiovascular Development Laboratory in 2015 and is the co-director of the Queensland Facility for Advanced Genome Editing at UQ’s Institute for Molecular Bioscience. His lab uses stem cells coupled with genomics, computational bioinformatics, genome engineering, and disease modelling to study mechanisms underlying cardiac and vascular development and disease.

In this seminar, Dr Palpant will present a scientific perspective on current advances in stem cell research and translation, providing the framework for a discussion about the ethical implications of stem cell research.

Ethics: Associate Professor Megan Munsie is based at The University of Melbourne, where she is Deputy Director of the Centre for Stem Cell Systems and head of the Education, Ethics, Law and Community Awareness Unit of the Australian Government funded Stem Cells Australia initiative.

For many, stem cell science and regenerative medicine is synonymous with hope for a future free of suffering. Such hopes are not only held by patients and their loved ones, but also by researchers seeking to harness the potential of stem cells to bring new therapies to the clinic. The challenge for the field is striking a balance between maintaining community hopes in the promise of these new technologies while acknowledging the reality of the science and the risks posed by unproven interventions. Megan will discuss the complexities involved in ‘managing hope’ and possible strategies aimed at keeping hopes in check.

: Dr Paul Tyson is Director of the Emmanuel Centre for the Study of Science, Religion, and Society. Author of a number of books on the relationship between our deepest beliefs and the modern world, theology touching on bioethics is an area of particular interest to him.

To Aristotle, first philosophy concerns those things that are the grounds of a rational understanding of the cosmos. Science and ethics are only possible because reason, meaning, purpose and value make them possible. To Aristotle, first philosophy concerns the divine realities in which nature is embedded; first philosophy is theology. Today our science is so impressive that it is easy for us to lose sight of the deep premises of nature and our own humanity. Dr Tyson will endeavour to put these deep values and meanings in touch with the science and ethics of stem cells.

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