PhD Student – Department of Philosophy and moral sciences


Last application date Apr 10, 2020 00:01

Department LW01 – Department of Philosophy and moral sciences

Employment category Doctoral fellow

Contract Limited duration

Degree Master in Moral Sciences, Master in Philosophy or equivalent

Occupancy rate 100%

Vacancy Type Research staff

Job description

Key scientific and digital developments lead to role-changes in healthcare, the proliferation of health-related data and new data protection and research data management frameworks. In view of these evolutions, the recently established METAMEDICA Platform conducts and facilitates interdisciplinary academic research and provides integrated education in health privacy, health law and biomedical ethics relevant for patients, clinicians, policy makers, lawyers, ethicists, and other stakeholders. Particular topics of interest include predictive genetic research, precision medicine, trustworthy AI, big data, and electronic health records. The METAMEDICA platform is hiring 3 PhD students with expertise in the domains of Medical Ethics, Health Law and Health Privacy Law. The PhD student with expertise in Medical Ethics will be working on the project “Ethical concerns linked to healthcare innovations bypassing the physician”. A double trend is currently noticeable in healthcare innovation. First, there is a trend towards expensive new treatment methods (such as precision oncology, immunotherapy or gene therapy), offered by highly specialized physicians in hyper-equipped facilities. Second, there is a trend going in a completely different direction, namely towards cheap and accessible methods of health monitoring, disease diagnosis or susceptibility prediction, which requires less or even no skills at all from trained medical personnel and/or can be delivered in the patient’s living room (such as health care apps, wearables and direct-to-consumer genetic testing). Given that high costs and limited access are ethically problematic features of healthcare, the prospect of this second category of innovations leading to affordability and convenience is appealing and to be welcomed in principle, especially if it would lead to better care for patients that have been historically underserved. However, these innovations come with a number of concerns which do not map well onto the classic model of medical ethics, which is premised on the doctor-patient relationship. Certain duties that the physician has towards her patients (such as safeguarding confidentiality and seeking their informed consent) now risk disappearing from medical care, thus exposing the patient/consumer of medical care to a number of risks. This project seeks to determine the concrete ethical concerns that arise when the physician is sidelined and to suggest new ways of safeguarding patients while at the same time empowering them. The research will take place in the stimulating environment of the METAMEDICA platform and the Bioethics Institute Ghent (BIG).

Profile of the candidate

– You have a passion for research and for medical ethics.

– You have an impressive track record (study results, publications and/or awards)

– You are able to work independently and take initiative, yet you are also a team player.

– You have excellent written and oral communication skills in English.

– You possess strong analytical skills.

– You are willing to provide support for the organization of conferences, workshops and meeting of the METAMEDICA platform.

– Experience with interdisciplinary work and/or an interest in health law is positively evaluated.

How to apply

Submit the following documents by email to

– Motivation letter – CV (please mention your grades for bioethics, medical ethics or related courses)

– A writing sample (publication, research essay, master thesis, …)

– Copy of diploma’s

All required documents need to be submitted, merged in 1 single pdf-file.

Top-ranked candidates will be invited for an interview (either on-site or via Skype) in the first week of May.

For inquiries concerning the position contact Prof. Dr. Heidi Mertes (


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