Terra incognita: navigating ethical boundaries in the life sciences – Course and Conference Office

23rd EMBL Science and Society Conference

Terra incognita: navigating ethical boundaries in the life sciences


EMBL is committed to sharing research advances and sustaining scientific interaction through onsite and virtual courses and conferences. We are delighted to announce that this conference will be held as a virtual event and invite you to join us online. The virtual conference includes talks from invited speakers, short talk presenters and networking opportunities.

Conference overview

The 23rd Science and Society Conference will examine the breadth of ethical issues present in the life sciences through the lens of molecular biology research. It will explore both the historical context of the intersection between research and ethics, and the fast pace of emerging ethical challenges in the life sciences through two case studies: technology ethics and organoid research. It will present different stakeholder perspectives on navigating ethical boundaries in molecular biology research, as well as featuring a live debate on ethics in research, issues around dual use and beyond.

Session topics

  • Technology ethics
  • Ethics and organoids
  • Involving the public in discussions about ethics and science
  • The future of ethics and science – how do we go forward?

What past participants say about the conference

“The excellent EMBL Science & Society conferences are a terrific opportunity for scientists at all career stages, and from anywhere in the world, to join wide-ranging debates on the practical, ethical and social implications of today’s research.” – Chris Dye, University of Oxford, UK

“The conference was awesome. I enjoyed the interesting topics covered by experts from reputable institutions from all top universities in the world. I felt like I physically attended the conference, although it was only virtual.” – Nickson Sananka, University of Nairobi, Kenya




Scientific organisers

Conference organiser

Preliminary programme

Got something to say? Tweet it! #SciSoc2023

For registered participants, recorded talks will be accessible on demand for 2 weeks after the end of the event, unless indicated otherwise.

Day 1 – Monday 19 June 2023
Time (Europe/Berlin)Speaker
09:45 – 10:00Opening remarks and housekeeping notes
Lucia von Bredow – EMBL Heidelberg, Germany

Welcome remarks
Edith Heard – EMBL Heidelberg, Germany
10:00 – 13:15Virtual Session 1
Technology ethics
10:00 – 10:45KEYNOTE LECTURE 1
Title TBA
Sandra Wachter – University of Oxford, UK
11:00 – 11:15Introduction – exploring new and emerging technologies in the life sciences
Jan Korbel – EMBL Heidelberg, Germany
11:15 – 11:45Examining the history of ethics in scientific and technological innovation
Matthew Cobb – University of Manchester, UK
11:45 – 12:00Break
12:00 – 12:30Do we need a hippocratic oath for the use of AI in the life sciences?
Nikola Biller-Andorno – University of Zurich, Switzerland
12:30 – 13:15Group Discussion
13:15 – 13:45Break
13:45 – 16:45Virtual Session 2
Ethics and organoids
13:45 – 14:30KEYNOTE LECTURE 2
Title TBA
Insoo Hyun – Harvard Medical School, USA
14:30 – 14:45Introduction – what are organoids, and why are they important in molecular biology research?
Talya Dayton – EMBL Barcelona, Spain
14:45 – 15:15Ethical and legal considerations of using organoids in scientific research
Fruzsina Molnár-Gábor – BioQuant Zentrum, Germany
15:15 – 15:30Break
15:30 – 16:00Opportunities and challenges associated with using organoids in research
Madeline Lancaster – MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology, UK
16:00 – 16:45Group Discussion
16:45 – 17:00Closing remarks day one

Day 2 – Tuesday 20 June 2023
Time (Europe/Berlin)Speaker
09:45 – 10:00Welcome back from day one
Lucia von Bredow – EMBL Heidelberg, Germany

Introduction to Session 3
Michele Garfinkel
10:00 – 13:30Virtual Session 3
Involving the public in discussions about ethics and science
10:00 – 10:45KEYNOTE LECTURE 3
Title TBA
Richard Milne – Kavli Centre for Ethics, Science, and the Public, University of Cambridge, UK
10:45 – 11:45TALK & INTERVIEW
Involving underrepresented groups (co-designed by EMBL Equality, Diversity & Inclusion Team and the ETHOX Centre, University of Oxford) followed by discussion on including members of underrepresented groups

Mark Sheehan – University of Oxford, UK
11:45 – 12:00Break
12:00 – 13:30ROUNDTABLE
What role could scientists play in discussions about ethics in the life sciences? (co-designed by EMBL Alumni and BioFaction)

Markus Schmidt – University of Groningen, The Netherlands
Angus Lamond – University of Dundee
13:30 – 13:45Break
13:45 – 16:45Virtual Session 4
The future of ethics and science – how do we go forward ?
13:45 – 16:45Enter PROMETHEUS (PROMotion of ETHics in EUropean Science) a movement towards value-driven science
Donnacha Fitzgerald – EMBL Heidelberg
16:45 – 17:00Closing remarks

Practical information

This conference will be virtual and free to all attendees. For this reason we invite you to register only if you are certain you will attend the event and to use the cancellation option should you register but realise that you cannot attend in the end. Registration system supports additional registrations.

Note for teachers registering multiple students: Please contact us by email to receive a separate link for registering students and yourself. By signing up to this platform, you hereby confirm that you, your students and/or their legal guardians consent that their data will be processed by EMBL, which is an international organisation, as defined in Art. 4 Nr.26 GDPR.

If you have any doubts, please contact us by email. For further information please refer to the FAQ page.

Virtual Participation Guidelines


Please do:

  • Use the event-specific hashtag as communicated during the event for any related tweets
  • Tweet unless the speaker specifically says otherwise
  • Be mindful of unpublished data
  • Be respectful in tone and content

Please don’t:

  • Capture, transmit or redistribute data presented at the meeting unless presenter gives explicit consent
  • Use offensive language in your posts
  • Engage in rudeness or personal attacks

Additional information can be found in our Code of Conduct.

Health and well-being

It is important to stay healthy and move around, especially when you are attending an event virtually. We have put together a few coffee break stretches and yoga videos. You can find these under ‘resources’ on the conference platform.

How to ask questions

Please use the Q&A function. It is possible to send a direct message to participants, poster presenters, and speakers within the conference platform.

If you have any other questions, you can go to the Help Desk on the conference platform. Click on ‘more’ on the top menu and click Help Desk. 

Time zone

The programme is planned based on Central European Summer Time (CEST) unless otherwise stated. As many virtual participants are attending from around the world, we do our best to accommodate as many timezones as possible when creating the programme. Please take your time zone into consideration when planning your attendance. Remember to set your time zone in your account. 

Virtual event platforms

We are using a virtual event platform for this conference. More information about the platform will be shared ahead of the conference.


Media partners

FEBS Press

International Union of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology

Sponsorship opportunities

We offer a variety of event sponsoring possibilities, with the flexibility to select a set sponsorship package or combine individual sponsorship options to suit your event budget. Discounts are available for companies sponsoring multiple events at EMBL Heidelberg. View other conferences, or contact sponsorship@embl.de for further information on sponsoring possibilities .

If you are interested in becoming a media partner of this event, please visit our media partnerships webpage.


EMBL wishes to warn sponsors of EMBL conferences and courses of fraudulent schemes purporting to offer sponsorship opportunities on behalf of EMBL or affiliated with EMBL officials. One current scam campaign of which we are aware is conducted using the name ‘Judy Eastman’ (judy@gopcontact.a2hosted.com) and entails approaches to sponsors offering sponsorship opportunities on EMBL’s behalf. Please be kindly advised that all relevant communication regarding sponsorship of EMBL conferences, symposia and courses is handled by EMBL directly and is sent from an official EMBL account. EMBL does not work with any external providers on sponsorship acquisition.

Please also note that:

  • EMBL never provides attendee lists for purchase. Any offers of such are fraudulent.
  • EMBL will never call or email you to ask for your credit card details or to request a payment.
  • All payments are on invoice.

Suspicious communications purportedly from, for or on behalf of EMBL should be reported to EMBL at the following email address sponsorship@embl.de.

Media kit

Want to let others know you’re attending this event? Take a look at our shareable media and feel free to use them in your social media channels or presentations.

Date: 19 - 20 Jun 2023

Location: Virtual


Registration: 19 May 2023


  • Lucia von Bredow
    EMBL Heidelberg, Germany

Contact: Diah Yulianti

Download event poster

EMBL Courses and Conferences are kindly supported by our Corporate Partnership Programme

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