For more than 30 years, Françoise Baylis has been helping us navigate the ethics of technology. Baylis is a philosopher with an international reputation for her work in applied ethics at the intersection of theory and practice.
A University Research Professor at Dalhousie University, for decades Baylis has made outstanding contributions to ethical debates on research involving humans, assisted human reproduction, transplantation, deep brain stimulation and genetic enhancement. She has also been acclaimed in the research community for her contributions to the field of humanities and bioethics as a Black Canadian woman scholar.
Baylis has authored many influential articles and government reports. Much of her work has looked closely at the introduction of (often risky) novel technologies used in assisted human reproduction. She is renowned for having criticized the practice of offering women interventions when there are no clinical trial data confirming the interventions are safe and effective.
Baylis has advocated for the inclusion of pregnant women in research on the grounds that failure to do so deprives pregnant women of the benefits of research—namely knowledge they could use in making informed choices about their own and their offspring’s health.
In one outstanding example of her influential work, Baylis’s 2019 book, Altered Inheritance: CRISPR and the Ethics of Human Genome Editing, showcased some of the ways in which heritable human genome editing could worsen existing inequities in society. It received great acclaim as an authoritative guide to the urgent ethical issues around CRISPR.
But Baylis’s work extends well beyond academia. In recent years, she has been writing intentionally for the public with a view to improving our understanding of ethics so that we can all take part in important public debates. Since March 2020, she has authored or co-authored 30 commentaries and articles on COVID-19 and participated in countless podcasts and media interviews.
On February 1, 2022, Baylis became Special Advisor to the Vice-President Research and Innovation at Dalhousie University. As a testament to her meaningful transdisciplinary work, Baylis has been included on a list of the world’s top 2% most-cited scientists.
Photo credit: Kevin A. Fraser