Past Events and Resources

Inaugural Lecture on Law, Ethics and Public Policy: Some Lessons from Genomic Medicine
Category : Public Talks
Date : 11 Apr, 2013
Time : 6:00pm – 7:00pm
Venue : Academic Conference Room, 11/F, Cheng Yu Tung Tower, Centennial Campus, HKU

The University of Hong Kong has a distinguished academic record in the biomedical sciences. The inauguration of the Centre for Medical Ethics and Law will provide for the University yet another dimension in its wide-ranging teaching and research activities, one which will place the biomedical sciences and the practice of medicine in an ethical, legal and social context.  The lecture will first briefly outline the work of the PHG Foundation in the UK and show how it might have some relevance to the work of the Centre in Hong Kong.  It will then provide a brief account of the conventional approach to medical ethics and law, and suggest why this will be neither adequate nor sufficient to meet the needs of health care and health policy in the coming decades.  This will be followed by some examples from philosophy and law as applied to the practice of genetics and genomic medicine.  They will illustrate some of the dilemmas that new technologies and social change will throw up for medical lawyers and philosophers of medicine.  It will conclude with a brief personal account of what some of these issues might be in the context of health and social care in Hong Kong, and how the Centre might take on a leadership role in its interaction with the wider organised efforts of society in the territory.


Ron Zimmern is a Public Health Physician with a special interest in public health genomics.  He is now Chairman of the Foundation for Genomics and Population Health, the successor to the Public Health Genetics Unit which he established in Cambridge in June 1997 and served as its Director until 2010.  Ron Zimmern graduated in 1971 following medical training at Trinity College, Cambridge and the Middlesex Hospital, London.  He specialised initially in neurology, and was appointed Lecturer at the Clinical School in Cambridge in 1976.  He went on to obtain a law degree at Cambridge in 1983, after which he started training in public health medicine.  He was Director of Public Health for Cambridge and Huntingdon Health Authority from 1991 to 1998, and Director of the Institute of Public Health of the University of Cambridge from 2002 to 2008.  Prior to that he held a number of medical management positions at Addenbrooke’s Hospital and as Consultant in Public Health Medicine at the Health Authority. He was for many years an Associate Lecturer at the University of Cambridge and has also been an Honorary Consultant in Public Health Medicine at Addenbrooke’s Hospital.  Ron Zimmern was born in Hong Kong and has a good working knowledge of its medical system.  He has recently, with two colleagues from the UK, reviewed genetic services for the Hong Kong Hospital Authority and made recommendations for its development and that of genomic medicine.  He has an Honorary Professorship in Public Health at the University of Hong Kong and has been awarded an Honorary Fellowship by the University. Ron Zimmern has served on many national committees concerned with genomics. He is a Fellow of Hughes Hall in Cambridge, and Honorary Fellow at the University of Cardiff and a Non-Executive Director of Papworth Hospital outside Cambridge.  His special interests and expertise, in addition to public health genomics, include strategic planning, the relationship between clinical services and teaching and research, priority setting in the NHS, and the law and ethics of medicine.

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