Three-Year Postdoctoral Fellowship in Ethics of Organoid Research

The Horizon 2020 SwafS project HYBRIDA, a seven-university consortium which
includes the Université catholique de Louvain, is recruiting a three-year
postdoctoral fellow in bioethics, to specialize on the project’s topic of
the ethics of contemporary organoid research. The UCLouvain team is led by
Prof. Mylène Botbol-Baum and Prof. Charles Pence, and the postdoc will be
co-supervised, housed in two research centers: Centre de recherche en
éthique de la santé (HELESI, our center in ethics of healthcare, of which
Pr. Botbol-Baum is director) and Centre de philosophie des sciences et
sociétés (CEFISES, our center in philosophy of science, of which Pr.
Pence is director).

Application deadline: October 1, 2020
Starting date: As early as January 1, 2021
Ending date: 36 months after official start date

The abstract for the HYBRIDA project as a whole is the following:

    Since Roman law, all entities have been categorized and regulated
either as persons or as things (subjects or objects). However, this
conceptual, epistemological and regulatory dualism is currently being
challenged by disruptive research and innovation, among which organoid
research is a prominent example. The dualistic normative framework
pertaining to health and life science research are disrupted by three
different kinds of uncertainty. First, conceptual uncertainty (ontological
uncertainty): how should one conceive of entities that cannot be
categorized as either persons or things? What are they? Second,
epistemological and methodological uncertainty: How do we know the
characteristics of these entities called organoids? How do we address forms
of uncertainty that cannot be evaluated through the use of statistical
methods, i.e. risk? Epistemological uncertainty comes in two kinds, which
can be categorized as qualitative, or strict, uncertainty and ignorance or
non-knowledge. In order to develop ethically and socially robust ways of
assessing the effects of organoid research and related technologies, there
is a need to include these additional forms of uncertainty in the Health
Technology Assessment (HTA). Third, regulatory uncertainty: this
uncertainty emerges because parts of regulatory frameworks concerning the
rights and duties of persons have been merged with elements of regulation
dealing with the stewardship of objects or things. These forms of
uncertainty are of particular importance. This project aims to address how
these uncertainties arise in organoid research and develop a conceptual and
regulatory framework able to overcome this dualism. From this follows also
the need to communicate the potential and possible pitfalls of organoid
research in ways that convey realistic, instead of hyped, scenarios.

As noted above, this is a seven-university consortium, with each group
taking responsibility for various elements of this large scope. Our group
will be primarily involved in the first work package for this grant, which
will explore the ontological, moral and legal status of organoids, chimeric
entities and hybrids present in different cultures and knowledge
traditions, with a view to identifying different forms of conceptual
uncertainty both in the general public and within the scientific community

We encourage candidates from a wide variety of backgrounds to apply, as our
team integrates work from a variety of different perspectives.

Candidates must have:

    Experience in bioethics
    Willingness to engage with contemporary scientific literature,
practitioners, and the public
    Ability to be present in Louvain-la-Neuve at least one week per month
    Professional fluency in English

Other characteristics that would improve the quality of an application:

    Experience in both contemporary continental and analytic approaches to
bioethics (the team combines these two perspectives)
    Experience in the history of science and/or medicine
    Knowledge of current work in molecular or synthetic biology
    Professional fluency in French

This postdoctoral research fellowship is funded by the European
Community’s Horizon 2020 Science with and for Society (SwafS) call
H2020-SwafS-28-2020, project number 101006012.
Additional Information

    Three-year fellowship
    An exciting, international research environment bridging bioethics and
the history and philosophy of science at UCLouvain, with further
opportunities for networking with colleagues from six other universities
across Europe
    Highly competitive salaries
    Access to travel and conference funding
    No teaching obligations (though teaching possibilities may be available
if desired, particularly if the candidate is fluent in French)

Eligibility Criteria

    PhD in philosophy, ethics, or related fields.
    PhD earned no earlier than January 1, 2016, following the defense of a
thesis. This date may be earlier if the candidate has or has adopted one or
more children (contact us for details). (Requirement of granting agency.)
    Candidates must not have resided or exercised their principal activity
(work, study, etc.) in Belgium for more than 24 months within the last 3
years. (Requirement of granting agency.)
    Strong enthusiasm for interdisciplinary, collaborative work.
    Written and oral proficiency in English is required, as the project is
international and its meetings and publications will be in English.
UCLouvain is a French-speaking university, and thus French proficiency
would thus be very useful for daily life, but is not mandatory.

Selection Process

Candidates are asked to prepare the following materials:

    Curriculum vita
    Sample of written work (published or unpublished)
    One to two letters of reference
    Graduate transcript, if available, or list of graduate-level coursework

The candidate is asked to submit all relevant materials here at
AcademicJobsOnline, prior to October 1, 2020. (AJO is free for applicants,
and also includes support for the submission of your confidential letters
of recommendation.) All candidates will be notified of final decisions no
later than November 1, 2020.
Additional Comments

Prof. Pence has prepared some materials that describe life as a
postdoctoral fellow at UCLouvain, which you can find here:
For more information about the project, please do not hesitate to e-mail
either PI: or

Application Materials Required:

    Submit the following items online at this website to complete your

        Cover Letter
        Curriculum Vitae
        Writing Sample
        Graduate Transcript(s) (optional)
        Up to Two Reference Letters (to be submitted online by the
reference writers at this site help popup)

    And anything else requested in the position description.

Further Info:
    +32 10 47 45 30
    Collège Mercier
    place Cardinal Mercier 14, bte. L3.06.01
    B-1348 Louvain-la-Neuve