Invasive procedures, engineering and innovation
Colleagues in the Centre are undertaking research into the ethical and legal issues surrounding surgery and surgical innovation.
The Centre’s research in this area encompasses work on novel, contested surgeries (such as ‘face transplants’ and the surgical separation of conjoined twins), surgical research, and surgical innovation.
G Birchley, J Ives, Huxtable R, Blazeby J
Health Care Analysis
Invasive procedures, innovation and Engineering
Funded through the NIHR Bristol Biomedical Research Centre, Huxtable, Ives Birchley and Wheeler are working with colleagues on the Surgical Innovation workstream to explore ethical issues in the practice and regulation of surgical innovation. Our work utilises a blend of empirical and theoretical approaches including narrative synthesis, concept analysis, ethical analysis, legal analysis, and qualitative research. Alice Toms’ PhD research focuses on the regulatory and legal issues associated with surgical innovation.
Ethics and Law in Surgical Treatment and Research
Huxtable has undertaken a range of research into various, often novel and contested, surgeries, in addition to exploring everyday questions like those surrounding consent to surgery. He has published often on the legal and ethical issues associated with surgically separating conjoined twins, including in Ethical Judgments, a volume he co-edited. He has written extensively about facial transplantation, including in the Encyclopedia of Global Bioethics. He has also addressed the Royal College of Surgeons and published on the broadcasting of live surgery and, with Swift (a former Centre PhD student), written about trials that involve ‘sham’ (or placebo) surgery.
TAS (Trustworthy Autonomous Systems)
Ives, Smith, and Manzini are working in collaboration with engineers, computer scientists, and sociologists on the Trustworthy Autonomous Systems (TAS) Node in Functionality project, funded by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI). This project aims to investigate how autonomous systems with ‘evolving functionality’, which can rapidly adapt their functionality to changes in the environment or in the systems themselves without a human controller, should be developed and deployed to be trustworthy. Within this project, Smith is undertaking a scoping literature review to develop a preliminary theoretical framework of trust(worthiness) in autonomous systems with evolving functionality, while Manzini is conducting a qualitative investigation (the ARET study) of how evolving functionality affects developers, end users, and other stakeholders’ understandings of, and ethical concerns around, trust(worthiness) in autonomous systems like swarm robots, soft robots, and unmanned aerial vehicles.
TAS EPIDOME (wound healing)
emPOWER is a visionary project, led by Jonathan Rossiter, Professor of Robotics at the University of Bristol, in partnership with Imperial College, UCL and the NIHR Devices for Dignity MedTech Co-operative, hosted by Sheffield Teaching Hospitals Foundation Trust. The project will explore how artificial muscles could radically transform treatment options in the future and effectively turn back the body clock. Dr Mari-Rose Kennedy is Research Associate on this project.