From Hong Kong to the World
The University of Hong Kong Centre for Medical Ethics and Law is committed to facilitating research, teaching, training and knowledge exchange on vital issues that lie at the intersection of medicine and law. Based in Hong Kong, we spare no efforts in building capacity for academics, professionals and the general public in understanding and deliberating issues on medical ethics and law. Apart from applying multi-disciplinary perspectives to medico-legal challenges, we place strong emphasis on knowledge exchange and collaboration with overseas partners and institutions. By gathering both local and international talents, our Centre can play a leading role in the region in resolving bioethical challenges arising from rapid scientific and technological advances.
Strategic Research Areas
Our primary focus is to make contributions to Hong Kong society by fostering inquiry in the following strategic research areas:
1. Reproductive Choices
With rapid advancement of reproductive technologies, reproductive choices have become more varied and complex than ever before. Our Centre’s main focus is on regulations and policies surrounding abortion, genetic screening, sterilization, surrogacy and artificial reproductive technologies.
2. Decisions at the End of Life
Patients’ autonomy can be compromised by inability to make and communicate decisions at the end of life. Our Centre researches an extensive range of issues in this area: the definitions and determination of death, medical futility, the right to have treatment withdrawn or continued, the right to palliative care, autonomy and anticipatory decision-making, living wills and advance directives and the right to die all deserve careful consideration and public deliberation.
3. Human Tissue Banking, Biobanking and Cohort Studies
Human tissue banking and biobanking pose direct challenges to our current understandings of property in the body. Problems which span from property and ownership of tissue holdings to the obligations of confidentiality and privacy remain unresolved. Our Centre explores the possibility for advancement of medical research involving human tissues with proper regulations in force.
4. Biomedical Research
Biomedical research is the key to resolving numerous medical, bioethical, and legal challenges. Our Centre’s research covers issues relating to clinical trials, frameworks for institutional ethical governance and clearance of research protocols, trials of new medical devices, anonymization and protection of confidentiality and privacy, and general and specific consent to research. The Centre’s work focuses on promoting clear rules and regulations on sharing medical and research information to foster collaborations with overseas institutions.
5. Using and Protecting Personal Information
Confidential personal information is inevitably used in biomedical research and patients’ treatments. In the clinical context, patients’ right to confidentiality and privacy may conflict with the development of electronic medical record (EMR) databases. However, the integration and connection of large scale national EMRs holds enormous research potential for macro-studies. Our Centre aims to advance policy and raise public awareness on protection and proper use of personal information.
6. Genetic Testing and Research
Our Centre is devoted to contributing to the public understanding of genetic testing and research. The derivation and use of human embryonic stem cells, population genetic screening, genetic testing and screening of children, pre-natal genetic screening and testing, cord blood banking, and the need for genetic information databases are all contentious issues with important emerging ethical and legal dimensions.
7. Personalized/Precision Medicine
Precision medicine is playing an increasingly important role in the healthcare system today. It holds the potential for customization of healthcare which emphasizes tailor-making medical decisions to individual patients based on genetic information. Our Centre understands the urgent need to explore the medical, legal, ethical and social questions raised by personalized/precision medicine and is determined to lead development in this area in Hong Kong.
Facilitating Regional and International Collaborations on Medical Law, Ethics, and Policy Issues
Our Centre appreciates the importance of regional and international collaborations to achieve understanding and effective resolution of complex medico-legal issues in an era of scientific and technological breakthroughs. In this respect, our Centre has built partnerships and collaborations with top-tier international institutions, including the Centre for Law, Medicine and Life Sciences (University of Cambridge) and the Centre of Genomics and Policy (McGill University). Our Centre has invited scholars from the United Kingdom, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan and Singapore for public lectures and academic conferences. To foster further regional and international collaborations, our Centre advocates for development of a comprehensive framework of guidelines for data sharing in biomedical research. The framework will allow our Centre to participate in knowledge transfer and sharing findings with our partners.