Centre for Values, Ethics and the Law in Medicine


The Centre for Values, Ethics and the Law in Medicine (VELiM) is a research and teaching centre within the School of Public Health, Faculty of Medicine, University of Sydney.

Since our establishment in 1995, we have become one of the largest bioethics centres in Australia and internationally.

Elizabeth van Ekert presenting

Our team includes academics, research fellows and research students working on a wide range of ethical issues. These include public health ethics, clinical ethics, research ethics, animal ethics, the ethics of biotechnology including genetic technology and genomics, and the ethics of drug policy and development.

VELiM also has a long history of conducting empirical social science research, often informed by and informing ethical questions. We have a thriving program of empirical and theoretical research funded by the NHMRC, ARC and other sources.

We teach two postgraduate coursework programs, Qualitative Health Research (until 2015) and Bioethics (ongoing).

Latest News & Events

Sydney Ideas in May:

Defending the Aussie Mozzie

17 May 2016, 6pm
The Marie Bashir Institute in partnership with the Human Animal Research Network present a panel discussion on issues relating to the recent Zika outbreak and relevant broader, contextual features of human-mosquito relations. Questions of interest include: Is Zika a threat in Australia? What other threats are there to human health from mosquito-borne disease? Why are such threats growing rather than receding? What do we know about how human behaviour influences mosquitoes, and vice-versa? - Discussion moderated by Chris Degeling, Centre for Values, Ethics and the Law in Medicine.
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Is Too Much Testing and Treatment Making us Sick?
Lab photo

30 May 2016, 6pm:
Sydney Ideas in partnership with the Sydney School of Public Health present a panel discussion on modern medical tests - imaging, biomarkers and genetic tests. Done in the right way at the right time, they can be lifesaving, and in the past often have been. But might they have become too good? Could some tests now be leading too much diagnosis and too much treatment? If so, what’s driving this? What might the consequences be for individual citizens, patients, their families and health care systems? And how can we fix it?
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New book:

Public Health Ethics: Cases Spanning the Globe
Public Health Ethics: Cases Spanning the Globe book cover

Prof Angus Dawson is one of the editors of the new book Public Health Ethics: Cases Spanning the Globe. The collection contains background material and cases from public health policy and practice with contributions from twenty-three different countries.
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Latest Publications*

Lewis, P. and Mooney-Somers, J. (2016), Parenthood in young cancer survivors is more than a combination of motivation and capacity (Letter to the Editor). European Journal of Cancer Care, 25(3): 524–525. doi: 10.1111/ecc.12409; published online: 28 APR 2016

Pickles, K., Carter SM, Rychetnik L, McCaffery K, Entwistle V. General Practitioners’ Experiences of, and Responses to, Uncertainty in Prostate Cancer Screening: Insights from a Qualitative Study, PLoS One, Published: April 21, 2016

Newson, A. J., Wilkinson, S., & Wrigley, A. (2016). Ethical and legal issues in mitochondrial transfer. EMBO Molecular Medicine, e201606281. DOI 10.15252/emmm.201606281 | Published online 21.04.2016

Parker LM, Carter SM, The Role of Socially Embedded Concepts in Breast Cancer Screening: An Empirical Study with Australian Experts. Public Health Ethics (2016) doi: 10.1093/phe/phw012. First published online: April 19, 2016

Barrett DH, Ortmann LW, Dawson A, Saenz C, Reis A, Bolan G (Eds.). Public Health Ethics: Cases Spanning the Globe, ISBN 978-3-319-23846-3, ISBN 978-3-319-23847-0 (eBook), DOI 10.1007/978-3-319-23847-0, Springer Open, published April 2016

Rock M, Degeling C. Toward “One Health” Promotion. Chapter 3 (pp. 68-82) In: A Companion to the Anthropology of Environmental Health, Merrill Singer (Ed.), John Wiley & Sons, published 5 April 2016

man holding mobile phone

Victorgrigas, CC BY-SA 3.0

Salkeld G, Cunich M, Dowie J, Howard K, Patel MI, Mann G, Lipworth W. The Role of Personalized Choice in Decision Support: A Randomized Controlled Trial of an Online Decision Aid for Prostate Cancer Screening. PLoS ONE 11(4): e0152999

Robertson M, Light E, Lipworth W, Walter G. Psychiatry and the ‘Gay Holocaust’ – the lessons of Jill Soloway’s ‘Transparent’. Australasian Psychiatry. 2016. In Press

Ghinea N, Lipworth W. Affordable access to innovative cancer medicines - don’t forget the prices. Med J Aust 2016; 204 (6): 214-215. doi: 10.5694/mja15.01309

Gopichandran V, Dawson, A. (2016). Ethics and the impact of climate change in South Asia. In: Bioethical Insights into Values and Policy (pp. 103-113). Springer International Publishing

Newson AJ, Wilkinson S. Should Australia Allow Mitochondrial Donation, Australasian Science, March 2016, pp 17-19.

Lipworth W, Axler R. Towards a bioethics of innovation. J Med Ethics, medethics-2015-103048. Published Online 25 March 2016 doi:10.1136/medethics-2015-103048

Bilardi, J., Walker, S., McNair, R., Mooney-Somers, J., Temple-Smith, M., Bellhouse, C., Fairley, C., Chen, M. and Bradshaw, C., 2016. Women’s Management of Recurrent Bacterial Vaginosis and Experiences of Clinical Care: A Qualitative Study. PLOS ONE, 11(3), p.e0151794, published 24 Mar 2016

medicines and bank notes

Chris Potter, CC BY 2.0

Ghinea N, Lipworth W, Kerridge I. Propaganda or the cost of innovation? Challenging the high price of new drugs. BMJ 2016;352:i1284

10 Mar 16 The Conversation Lipworth W, Kerridge I, Ghinea N. CommInsure scandal reminds us commercial forces are at play in medicine, The Conversation 10 March 2016

McCaffery K, Jansen J, Scherer L, Thornton H, Hersch J, Carter SM, Barratt A, Sheridan S, Moynihan R, Waller J, Pickles K, Edwards A. Walking the tightrope: communicating overdiagnosis in modern healthcare. BMJ 2016;352:i348

J Bilardi, S Walker, J Mooney-Somers, et al. Women’s Views and Experiences of the Triggers for Onset of Bacterial Vaginosis and Exacerbating Factors Associated with Recurrence. PLOS, Published: March 1, 2016

Degeling C, Rock M, Rogers W, Riley T. (2016) Habitus and Responsible Dog-ownership: reconsidering the health promotion implications of 'dog-shaped' holes in people's lives. Critical Public Health. 4, 191-206.

Marshall GR, Hooker C. Empathy and affect: what can empathied bodies do? Medical Humanities. 2016 Feb 8:medhum-2015.

Hooker C, Degeling C, Mason P. Dying a natural death: Ethics and political activism for endemic infectious disease. In: Endemic: Essays in Contagion Theory. Lorenzo Servitje and Kari Nixon (eds). London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2016. In press.

Silva DS, Dawson A, Upshur R. (2016) Reciprocity and Ethical Tuberculosis Treatment and Control, Symposium: Tuberculosis, Journal of Bioethical Inquiry, First online: 21 January 2016.

Newson, A.J., Wrigley, A. (2016) Being Human: The Ethics, Law, and Scientific Progress of Genome Editing Australian Quarterly, 87(1): 3-8.

* VELiM authors are bolded.