Current research projects
Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Synthetic Biology: Biosafety and Regulation
This research project explores the use of IA applications in synthetic biology (SynBio) research, focusing on risk assessments and emerging biosafety protocols and standards to ensure responsible innovation. It identifies applicable rules and protocols for SynBio research domestically and internationally, e.g. in the United States, Canada, China, and EU. It further scrutinizes whether existing national legislation and international treaties are sufficient enough to address novel biosafety concerns arising from the automation of scientific research design.
Risk Communication and Media Portrayal of Gene Drive Technology
There has been a significant public controversy over the potential of CRISPR-Cas9 gene drives to quickly spread species modifications in the wild. How is the emerging gene drive technology portrayed in the news? What are the key ethical concerns and risk perceptions highlighted by science reporters and experts? This study undertakes a comprehensive content analysis of media coverage since 2015, identifying major trends in framing the technology, how its potential benefits and risks for human health and the environment are represented, and the evolution of media representations.
Media Discourse on Vaccines and Vaccine Hesitancy in Canada
This study compares and contrasts the extensive media coverage on the issue of vaccines in Canada in response to two major public health crises: 1) the rapid increase in measles outbreaks nationally and globally in 2019; and 2) the subsequent COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, which prompted fast-track vaccine development programs and regulatory approvals of new vaccines. It scrutinizes key ethical issues and policy considerations highlighted by journalists and health experts, such as the validity of non-medical exemptions from childhood immunizations, and whether vaccine mandates are advocated as a solution to vaccine hesitancy and declining immunization rates.
Ethical Pathways for Field Trials with Gene Drive-Modified Mosquitoes
This project explores ethical concerns surrounding the use of gene drive-modified mosquitoes for malaria prevention and elimination, focusing on the development of an inclusive ethics framework for field trials, including potential open releases, that is sensitive to the socio-cultural contexts of Sub-Saharan Africa and incorporates shared values of local communities.
From Risk Assessment to RRI: Governing Genome Edited Organisms in India
This project undertakes a critical analysis of the newly proposed guidelines for genome-edited organisms in India, highlighting the limited scope of regulatory oversight (e.g., risk assessment approach vs. a Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI) framework) and the reliance on ineffective multi-level governance mechanisms for biotechnology that may not be suitable to address the challenges of gene drives and related applications of CRISPR/Cas9 gene editing. Drawing on STS approaches to science policy and biotechnology governance, the study scrutinizes: 1) how the “object of biomedical governance” is constituted in India’s policy discourses on gene-edited organisms; 2) the limitations of the proposed risk assessment approach; and 3) the need for wider public participation of citizens, civil society groups, policymakers, and other stakeholders in the development of an ethical framework for gene editing technologies.
Ujewe, Samuel J. "Moral residue and health justice for the global south: Addressing past issues through current interventions and research." Developing world bioethics 20, no. 2 (2020): 96-104.
Tangwa, Godfrey B., Akin Abayomi, Samuel J. Ujewe, and Nchangwi Syntia Munung, eds. Socio-cultural Dimensions of Emerging Infectious Diseases in Africa: An Indigenous Response to Deadly Epidemics. Springer, 2019.
Ujewe S.J., Mungwa A. (2019) Insufficiency of Pathogen Focused Approaches Towards Managing Deadly Epidemics in Africa: Harmonising the Roles of Governments, Health Systems and Populations. In: Tangwa G., Abayomi A., Ujewe S., Munung N. (eds) Socio-cultural Dimensions of Emerging Infectious Diseases in Africa. Springer, Cham.
Tiwari, Shashank S., and Pranav N. Desai. "Unproven stem cell therapies in India: regulatory challenges and proposed paths forward." Cell stem cell 23, no. 5 (2018): 649-652.
Kamenova, Kalina. "Why Ethical Qualms over Human Embryonic Stem Cells Are No Longer Relevant: An Analysis of the Evolving Public Discourse and Regulatory Context for Stem Cell Research in Canada." In: Susanne Müller, Henning Rosenau (Hrsg.) Stammzellen - iPS-Zellen - Genomeditierung. Stem Cells - iPS Cells - Genome Editing, Seite 109 - 124, Reihe: Schriften zum Bio-, Gesundheits- und Medizinrecht, Bd. 34
Report "Gene Drives: Strategies for Public Engagement and Communication." ©2018 by the Canadian Institute for Genomics and Society (This report provides an in-dept analysis of global trends in the news media portrayal of gene drive technology and its applications for disease prevention, bio-conservation and in agriculture between 2015 and 2018 and outlines best practices for public communication, stakeholder consultation and public engagement.)
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