Mikala Dwyer, The garden of half-life (wall painting) 2014  (detail)

Sydney Health Ethics

Asking ethical questions relating to health and medicine
We focus on the ethical issues across health, medicine and the life sciences by applying approaches and methods drawn from the humanities and social sciences.

About us

Sydney Health Ethics conducts research and teaching in bioethics and health-related social science using multidisciplinary methods. Our mission is to achieve a positive social impact by engaging in academic and public conversations about the ethics of health and wellbeing.

We produce rigorous, critical and engaged ethics and social research, teach bioethics and qualitative research methods and work with communities locally, nationally and internationally to understand and address real-world issues.

News and Events

Upcoming events

Join us for SHE Conversation, every second Thursday during semester, from 12pm to 1pm, in person or online. Conversation is an engaging mix of formal talks and dynamic discussions. All are welcome!

The SHE Journal Club, held monthly during semester, is a chance to meet informally to discuss a journal paper and the ethical questions it raises. It’s a friendly group and everyone is welcome (no bioethics skills required!). Feel free to bring lunch or coffee with you! 

Hosted by Sydney Health Ethics Affiliates from the Clinical Ethics Services at South Eastern Sydney Local Health District and Sydney Children’s Hospital Network, come along to the Clinical Ethics Salon, a casual online meetup every fourth Tuesday. This is for those interested in clinical ethics to share ideas and discuss their work. 

For more ethics reflection and skill development, join the Clinical Ethics RoundtableRoundtable is an informal and collegiate space to explore practical clinical ethics issues in greater depth and in conversation with clinicians, academics, and others.


Our research

Our research spans a range of areas and disciplines, including:

  • Clinical ethics
  • Ethical, socio-political and epistemic aspects of science and medicine
  • Ethics of patient care, health services and health policy
  • Ethics of science and biotechnology
  • Experience of illness and healthcare
  • Medical humanities and ethics
  • Philosophy of medicine, science, language and knowledge
  • Public health ethics
  • Reproductive ethics
  • Research ethics

COVID-19 resource allocation ethics framework

An ethics framework for making resource allocation decisions within clinical care has been developed by a working party involving members of Sydney Health Ethics and many clinicians and clinical ethicists from Sydney.

This document is to help clinicians, hospital administrators and policy makers to plan for possible severe scarcity of vital medical resources in responding to COVID-19.

Download the COVID-19 resource allocation ethics framework (pdf, 278kb)

Research highlights

  • Associate Professor Julie Mooney-Somers leads a program of research on sexual minority women’s health. In collaboration with Dr Rachel Deacon and ACON Health, she runs the world’s longest running periodic survey of lesbian, bisexual and queer women’s health. This work provided evidence for Cancer Institute NSW to fund research into smoking, including the ‘Smoke Free Still Fierce’ community awareness campaign.
  • Professor Ainsley Newson is leading a large international team to develop a novel framework for the ethical governance of genomic and related clinical data. The LINEAGE Study is funded by the Medical Research Future Fund.
  • Claire Hooker leads research exploring the impact of performance arts on improving effective communication and developing professionalism in healthcare contexts. For example, the play Grace Under Pressure has toured many hospitals across the State, and has a national mainstage tour in 2020. Learn more: www.artshealthnetwork.com.au

Recent Publications

  • Subramani S., Vinay R., März JW., Hefti M., Biller-Andorno N. (2024). Ethical Issues in Breastfeeding and Lactation Interventions: A Scoping Review. Journal of Human Lactation. 2024;40(1):150-163.   https://doi.org/10.1177/0890334423121507
  • Dalton, J., Hooker, C. (2023). The Excess and Erased: Dramaturgical notes on performing care in medicine. In Bouchard, G, and Mermikides, A. (eds) Routledge Companion to Performance and Medicine. London: Routledge, [forthcoming] 
  • Gallagher, S., Kerridge, I., Newson, A., Attinger, S., Norman, R., & Lipworth, W. (2023). Moral justification for the use of ‘add-ons’ in assisted reproductive technology (ART): Experts’ views and experiences. Reproductive BioMedicine Online, 103637.   https://doi.org/10.1016/j.rbmo.2023.103637
  • Gallagher, S, Lipworth, W., & Guselli, L. (2023). Growing concerns over billion-dollar baby industry. 360info.      https://360info.org/growing-concerns-over-billion-dollar-baby-industry/
  • Hooker, C., Phillips, B. and Carr, S. (2023). Health and Medical Humanities in Global Health: From the Anglocentric to the Anthropocene. In Liambuttong, P. (ed) Handbook of Social Sciences and Global Public Health. London: Springer.            https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-96778-9_14-1
  • Hooker C., Marques, M., Goldwater, M., Degeling, C. and Leask, J. (2023). Values in risk communication about Covid-19. In Lewis, M., Govender, E., and Holland, K. (eds) Communicating Covid-19: Media, Trust, and Public Engagement. Vol II. London: Palgrave MacMillan. ISBN: 978-3-031-41236-3.
  • Stanbury, C., Lipworth, W., Gallagher, S., Norman, R.J., Newson, A.J. (2023). What normative weight should patient-led demand have in clinical decisions about Assisted Reproductive Technologies? Bioethics 1-9. https://doi.org/10.1111/bioe.13239
  • Subramani, S. (2023). Beyond Public Health and Private Choice: Breastfeeding, Embodiment and Public Health Ethics.                   https://doi.org/10.1007/s41649-023-00259-0
  • Wrigley, A., Watts, G., Lipworth, W., Newson, A.J. (2023) Hope and exploitation in commercial provision of assisted reproductive technologies. Hastings Center Report, 53(5):30-41.         https://doi.org/10.1002/hast.1513
  • Silva, DS., Smith, MJ. (2023) 'Data sharing during pandemics: Reciprocity, solidarity, and limits to obligations' Journal of Bioethical Inquiry.   https://doi.org/10.1007/s11673-023-10251-w
  • Anderson, W. (2023). Toward Planetary Health Ethics? Refiguring Bios in Bioethics. Journal of Bioethical Enquiryhttps://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s11673-023-10285-0
  • Kite, J., Chan, L., MacKay, K. et. al., (2023). A model of social media effects in public health communication campaigns. JMIR Public Health and Surveillance 25:e46345.                  https://www.jmir.org/2023/1/e46345
  • Subramani, S. (2023). Emotions and affects: the missing piece of the jigsaw puzzle of understanding risk attitudes in medical decision-making. Journal of Medical Ethics.                              https://doi.org/10.1136/jme-2023-109374
  • White, S., Haas, M., Laginha, K-J., Laurendet, K., Gaff, C., Vears, D., Newson, A.J. (2023). Justifying terminology associated with genomic findings beyond the scope of the original test indication: A scoping review. Genetics in Medicine.      https://doi.org/10.1016/j.gim.2023.100936
  • Vears, D., Boyle, J., Jacobs, C., McInerney-Leo, A., Newson, A.J., on behalf of the Education, Ethics and Social Issues Committee of the Human Genetics Society of Australasia. (2023). Human Genetics Society of Australasia Position Statement: Genetic Carrier Testing for Recessive Conditions. Twin Research and Human Genetics, 26(2): 188-194. https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/twin-research-and-human-genetics/article/human-genetics-society-of-australasia-position-statement-genetic-carrier-testing-for-recessive-conditions/C1C5C335F6F595A06305693AA235684C
  • Mooney-Somers, J., Anderst. A. and Deacon, R. (2023). How a 25-year-old periodic survey for lesbian, bisexual and queer women responded and adapted to gender diversity: a reflexive analysis. Journal of Gender Studies: 1-12.       https://doi.org/10.1080/09589236.2022.2162864
  • Watts G, Newson AJ. Is there a duty to routinely reinterpret genomic variant classifications? Journal of Medical Ethics. https://jme.bmj.com/content/medethics/early/2023/05/18/jme-2022-108864.full.pdf
  • Arnold, M,  Kerridge, I. (2023). Patient-centricity: research's new shibboleth? Journal of Evaluation in Clinical Practice.  2023; 1- 5.        https://doi.org/10.1111/jep.13830
  • Vears, D., Savulescu, J., Christodoulou, J., Wall, M., Newson, A.J. (2023). Are we ready for genomic newborn screening?. Pharmacogenomics and Personalized Medicine, 16: 681-691.  https://doi.org/10.2147/PGPM.S376083
  • Dive, L., Holmes, I., Newson, A.J. (2023). Is it just for a screening program to give people all the information they want? American Journal of Bioethics, 23(7):34-42. 
  • Heynemann, S., Lipworth, W., McLachlan, S.-A., Philip, J., John, T. and Kerridge, I. (2023). When research becomes practice: the concept of the therapeutic misconception and challenges to consent in clinical trials. Internal Medicine Journal, 53: 271-274. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/epdf/10.1111/imj.16015
  • Carpenter, M. (2023). Fixing bodies and shaping narratives: Epistemic injustice and the responses of medicine and bioethics to intersex human rights demands'. Clinical Ethicshttps://doi.org/10.1177/14777509231180412


Sydney Health Ethics network members, to share your recent publications with our community, please send through the details and link to she.network@sydney.edu.au.

Study options

Our innovative and interdisciplinary postgraduate program in bioethics will help you develop the critical skills you need to analyse ethical issues in medicine, life sciences and health.

Students consider questions like: What is bioethics and why is it important? Why is public health a moral enterprise? How should the law respond to ethical issues in health? What is ‘medicalisation’? What makes research ‘ethical’? How do we make medicines safe, effective and accessible? What are the limits of autonomy and consent? What do we owe non-human animals? Why might art transform health and healthcare? 

Courses are offered in a variety of formats to suit students with competing time demands.

Queries of an academic nature can be addressed to the Program Director, Dr Diego Silva.

We provide support and training to our students, giving them the opportunity to participate in weekly seminars and monthly team meetings, contribute to our teaching programs in their areas of expertise, and self-organise peer support and skill-building activities.

Expressions of Interest

If you are interested in becoming a research student at Sydney Health Ethics, you will need to submit an expression of interest. If successful, we will support you to apply to the University of Sydney for an official HDR place. 

Before you submit an expression of interest: 

  1. identify a Sydney Health Ethics academic who you think would be a good supervisor for the project you want to do
  2. contact the academic and introduce yourself 
  3. prepare and submit your Expression of Interest with the support of that academic.

You will need: 

  • your CV
  • copy of your academic transcript
  • statement of support from an academic referee
  • a sample of written work (eg undergraduate assignment, thesis chapter, dissertation or published or unpublished paper)
  • Statement of Purpose describing your interests, reasons for pursuing an advanced degree at Sydney Health Ethics (1-2 pages) and your long-term goals
  • project outline (1-2 pages) including background, research aims and research questions, method and anticipated outcomes – this is not assumed to be a final product but assists us in assessing your ability to choose a topic to research, identify research questions and plan your investigation
  • a brief outline of any formal discussions with Sydney Health Ethics staff and your preferences regarding supervision (if you have any).

To submit your expression of interest, email Professor Ainsley Newson at ainsley.newson@sydney.edu.au

You can submit an expression of interest at any time. However, please ensure that you submit at least one month ahead of the relevant University application date. 

Please note: Sydney Health Ethics does not have the authority to offer an official place in a Higher Degree Research (HDR) program. This authority rests with the University of Sydney. An expression of interest is only the beginning of the process of entering a HDR program with Sydney Health Ethics. 

For further information on study options and how to apply for a research degree visit the postgraduate research page.

Sydney Health Ethics offer short courses through the Sydney School of Public Health in bioethics and qualitative research methods.

Our short courses will appeal to:

  • clinicians and other professionals working in health-related fields seeking professional development or continuing education,
  • early career researchers and PhD candidates who wish to develop their experience, skills and knowledge and
  • experienced researchers interested in advancing their career or moving into new areas.

Learn more or register for our upcoming short courses.

Our people

  • Professor Warwick Anderson 
  • Professor Thomas Boulton
  • Professor Stacy Carter
  • Professor Vikki Ann Entwistle
  • Professor Gwendolyn Gilbert
  • Professor David Isaacs
  • Professor Ian Kerridge
  • Professor Paul Komesaroff
  • Professor Kathleen Montgomery
  • Professor Ian Olver
  • Professor Heiko Spallek
  • Professor Colin Thomson
  • Associate Professor Mark Arnold
  • Associate Professor Henry Kilham
  • Associate Professor Andrew Lane
  • Associate Professor Paul Macneill
  • Associate Professor Michael Robertson
  • Dr Christopher Degeling
  • Dr Lisa Dive
  • Dr Narcyz Ghinea
  • Dr Ross Halpin
  • Dr Su-Yin Hor
  • Dr Jane Johnson
  • Dr Edwina Light
  • Dr Wendy Lipworth
  • Dr Christopher Mayes
  • Dr Camilla Scanlan
  • Dr Linda Sheahan
  • Dr George Skowronski
  • Dr Tom Walker
  • Dr Jane Williams
  • Dr Vicki Xafis
  • Sarah Baldwin
  • Katherine Moloney
  • Bronwen Morrell
  • Anne Preisz
  • Mary Wyer
  • Dr Liz Sutton
  • Sara Attinger
  • Louis Gould
  • Craig Stanbury
  • Kitty-Jean Laginha
  • Kirsten Laurendet
  • Dr Stephanie Mantilla
  • Stephanie White
  • Kimberly Ross
  • Anh Vu

Top image: Mikala Dwyer, The garden of half-life (wall painting) 2014 (detail)

Network Convenor

Professor Ainsley Newson
Academic profile

Director of the Master of Bioethics program

Dr Kathryn MacKay
Academic profile

Contact us

  • Level 1, Edward Ford Building A27 The University of Sydney, Camperdown NSW 2006