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Media release: Dalhousie University bioethicist and scholar Françoise Baylis honoured with prestigious Canada Council for the Arts Molson Prize
Monday, May 8, 2023 (Halifax, NS) -- Acclaimed Dalhousie University bioethicist and scholar, Françoise Baylis, has been named a recipient of the Canada Council for the Arts Molson Prize, given only to two people every year for their significant contributions to the country's intellectual and cultural heritage.
The Council announced the two winners today, honouring Dr. Baylis with the social sciences and humanities prize for her outstanding achievements in academic research that centres on the complexities of how health-care ethics intersect with technology, policy and practice.
Dr. Baylis, the first Dalhousie researcher to receive the Molson Prize, has over the span of her career become an influential voice in the field of bioethics and a leader in advocating for the ethical application of science, with the goal of bettering society.
At the heart of her scholarship is the hope that she helps generate debate on issues that can be difficult, but which she believes should be fostered and part of the public discourse.
"It really is quite wonderful to receive this prize," she says of the award, valued at $50,000. "I'm just hopeful that it creates opportunities for me to share my ideas about the substantive issues I care about with a wider audience.”
Much of her work recently has focused on the ethical questions linked to the introduction and application of emerging technologies, something she says shouldn't be rushed at the expense of a consideration of potentially harmful consequences.
“What I'm trying to suggest is that the primary question we need to be answering is, 'What kind of world do we want to live in?'" she says. "It is only once we figure out the answer to this question that we can then turn our attention to questions like, 'And how might this technology help us build that world?'"
Dr. Baylis, a Distinguished Research Professor, Emerita in Philosophy at Dalhousie and author of Altered Inheritance: CRISPR and the Ethics of Human Genome Editing, has been at the centre of global debates on research involving humans, assisted human reproduction, public health and heritable genetic modifications. Because of her leadership on these issues, she is often called on to be part of groups shaping policy, including most recently the WHO Expert Advisory Committee on Developing Global Standards for Governance and Oversight of Human Genome Editing, and the WHO Global Guidance Framework to Harness the Responsible Use of the Life Sciences. She was also a member of the planning committees for the First International Summit on Human Gene Editing (2015) and the Third International Summit on Human Genome Editing (2023).
A prolific writer and commentator, Dr. Baylis has published 19 books, more than 150 academic articles and countless submissions to public forums. She has been recognized with numerous honours, including the 2022 Killam Prize for the Humanities and the Queen Elizabeth II Platinum Medal, as well as dozens of academic awards. She is also a member of the Order of Canada and the Order of Nova Scotia.
With the Molson Prize, Dr. Baylis joins previous recipients Margaret Atwood, Lawrence Hill, Alice Munro, Denys Arcand, Alex Colville, Northrop Frye, Glenn Gould and Marshall McLuhan.
Senior Research Reporter
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