At the Frontier: The Ethics of Innovative Surgery image

September 10, 2015 4:30 - 6:00 PM
Lectures and Panels
Armenise Building D, Amphitheater
Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA
VIDEO: Watch the Full Event Online!

All modern surgical techniques were once new, so the ethics of surgical innovation is not a new topic. But as our understanding of the brain advances, so does our ability to surgically treat disorders such as epilepsy, Parkinson's disease, and possibly even depression. Increasingly, we must consider whether innovation in brain surgery poses any special ethical challenges.

Since alterations in the brain have the potential to alter cognition, personality, and even the sense of self, do surgical innovations require special ethical consideration? Should "invasiveness" matter ethically, or do we simply weigh risks against benefits?  Should we have distinct policy or regulation regarding neurosurgical innovation? Do patients contemplating such innovations require special protections?


  • Paul Ford, PhD, Director of the NeuroEthics Program at Cleveland Clinic

  • Emad Eskandar, MD, Director of Stereotactic and Functional Neurosurgery and Neurosurgery Residency Program, Massachusetts General Hospital

  • Elizabeth Hohmann, MD, Chair and Physician Director, Partners Human Research Committees


  • The International Neuroethics Society

  • The Petrie-Flom Center for Health Law Policy, Biotechnology, and Bioethics, HLS

  • Center for Law, Brain, and Behavior, MGH

  • Institute for the Neurosciences, BWH

  • Center for Brain Science, Harvard University

  • Department of Neurobiology, HMS

With funding from:

  • Mind Brain Behavior Interfaculty Initiative, Harvard University

  • The Harvard Brain Initiative Collaborative Seed Grant Program


VIDEO: Watch the Full Event Online!


bioethics   health law policy   innovation   medicine   mental health   neuroscience   regulation