Impact Ethics

Françoise Baylis

University Research Professor

Photo courtesy of Graham Kennedy


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Françoise Baylis is a philosopher whose innovative work in bioethics, at the intersection of policy and practice, has stretched the very boundaries of the field.  Her work challenges readers to think broadly and deeply about the direction of health, science and biotechnology. It aims to move the limits of mainstream bioethics and develop more effective ways to understand and tackle public policy challenges in Canada and abroad.

A public intellectual for the modern age, Baylis brings her ethical sensibilities, informed by best practices, theory and common sense, to a wide range of public issues. She is a frequent guest on CBC and Radio Canada and the author of many news stories with a “behind the scenes” look at ethical issues. Her current research focuses on heritable human genome modification, the body economy, assisted human reproduction, and research involving women. With a personal mantra to make the powerful care, Baylis contributes to national policy-making via government research contracts, membership on national committees and public education. This work – all of which is informed by a strong commitment to the common good – focuses largely on issues of social justice.

Françoise Baylis is University Research Professor, NTE Impact Ethics, Faculty of Medicine, Dalhousie University. She is a member of the Order of Canada and the Order of Nova Scotia, as well as a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada and a Fellow of the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences. In 2017 she was awarded the Canadian Bioethics Society Lifetime Achievement Award.


Select Recent Publications

Andorno, R., Baylis, F., Darnovsky, M., Dickenson, D., Haker, H., Hasson, K. (2020). Geneva
statement on heritable human genome editing: The need for course correction
. Trends in Biotechnology, 38(4), 351-354.

Baylis, F. (2019). Altered inheritance: CRISPR and the ethics of human genome editing. Harvard: Harvard University Press.

Saha, K., Hurlbut, J.B., Jasanoff, S., Ahmed, A., Appiah, A., Bartholet, E., Baylis, F. et al. (2018). Building capacity for a global genome-editing observatory: Institutional design. Trends in
. 36(8), 741-743. DOI: 10.1016/j.tibtech.2018.04.008.

Hurlbut, J.B., Jasanoff, S., Saha, K., Ahmed, A., Appiah, A., Bartholet, E., Baylis, F. et al. (2018). Building capacity for a global genome-editing observatory: Conceptual challenges. Trends in Biotechnology. 36(7), 639-641. DOI: 10.1016/j.tibtech.2018.04.009

Baylis, F. (2018). ‘No’ to lesbian motherhood using human nuclear genome transfer. Journal of Medical Ethics. 44(12), 865-867. DOI:10.1136/medethics-2018-104860

Baylis, F. (2018). COUNTERPOINT: The potential harms of human gene editing using CRISPRCas9. Clinical Chemistry. 64(3), 489-491. DOI: 10.1373/clinchem.2017.278317

Baylis, F., & Cattapan A. (2018). Personalised medicine and the politics of human nuclear genome transfer. In: B. van Beers, S. Sterckx, & D. Dickenson (Eds), Personalized medicine, individual choice and the common good, (17-36). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. DOI:10.1017/9781108590600.002

Baylis, F., & McLeod, M. (2018). First-in-human phase 1 CRISPR gene editing cancer trials: Are we ready? Current Gene Therapy 17(4), 309-319. DOI: 10.2174/1566523217666171121165935.

Baylis, F. (2017). 'Broad societal consensus' on human germline editing. Harvard Health Policy Review, 15(2), 19-23.

Baylis, F. (2017). Human germline genome editing and broad societal consensus. Nature Human Behaviour, 1, 0103.

Baylis, F. (2017). Human nuclear genome transfer (so-called Mitochondrial replacement): clearing the underbrush. Bioethics, 31(1), 7-19.

Baylis, F. (2017). The regulation of assisted human reproductive technologies and related research: a public health, safety and morality argument. In T.Lemmens, A. F. Martin, C. Milne, & I. B. Lee (Eds.), Regulating Creation: The Law, Ethics and Policy of Assisted Human Reproduction (pp. 490-528). Toronto, ON: University of Toronto Press.

Vasiliou, S. K., Diamandis, E. P., Church, G. M., Greely, H. T., Baylis, F., Thompson, C. et al. (2016). CRISPR-Cas9 system: opportunities and concerns. Clinical Chemistry, 62(10), 1304.

Baylis, F. (2016). Mitochondrial replacement techniques: ethical, social and policy considerations. Royal Society of Canada Reports from Abroad [On-line].

Baylis, F. & Rossant, J. (2016). This CRISPR moment: editing human DNA the way we edit test – are we ready? The Walrus Magazine, April, 15-17.

Conference Videos

Is human genome editing ethical? (15 Oct 2019). Plenary lecture by Françoise Baylis. American Society for Reproductive Medicine Annual Scientific Congress & Expo, Philadelphia PA.

Genealogy & Genetics workshop, part 7 of 8: Ethics of bio-data & genetic genealogy. (21 Sep 2018). A presentation by Françoise Baylis. Organized by Julia Creet. Archives of Ontario, 134 Ian MacDonald Blvd, North York, York University Keele Campus, Toronto ON.

Social & ethical aspects of genome engineering. (25 May 2017). Session 3, Part I & Part II. 15th Annual Genomics Forum: The Genome Engineering Revolution: CRISPR & SYNBIO, Vancouver, BC.

Identity. Relationships. Belonging. Persons with Dementia. (29 Apr 2016). Dialogue on Aging: Geriatric Services Conference. Tapestry Foundation for Aging, Vancouver, BC.

I'm Still a Person (Part 1 of 2).
I'm Still a Person (Part 2 of 2).
(29 Apr 2016). Keynote presentation to Tapestry Foundation for Health Care's Geriatric Services Conference, Vancouver, BC.

Public Speaking Videos

Editing the human genome: the ethics of moulding our future. (14 Mar 2018). A panel discussion featuring Françoise Baylis, Julian Savalescu and David Edgell as moderated by Anthony Skelton. Wolf Performance Hall – Central Library, London ON.

Synthetic biology: blurring boundaries to create new realities. (16 Sept 2017). me Convention talks, Frankfurt Festhalle, Frankfurt am Main, Germany.

Breaking the wall between gene science and ethics: How philosophy can provide frameworks for a global biotech revolution. (9 Nov 2016). Falling Walls Conference, Berlin, Germany.

Conversations with my mother. (20 Oct 2016). The Walrus Talks – The Art of Conversation, Eckhardt-Gramatté Hall, Rozsa Centre, University of Calgary, Calgary, AB.

Pay-for-Plasma Panel Discussion. (25 Apr 2016). Nova Scotia Health Coalition, Halifax Central Library, 5440 Spring Garden Rd., Halifax NS.

Baby-making: The harms of commercial contract pregnancy. (12 Mar 2015). Mason Institute, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, Scotland.

Just in time: Health research and the pharmaceutical industry. (15 Feb 2010). Canadian Centre for Ethics in Public Affairs (CCEPA), Alumni Hall, University of King's College, Halifax NS.

Whose business is it anyway? Science and the corporate world. Trust in Science Part 4. (March 2007). Situating Science│Atlantic Node, Podium TV, Alumni Hall, University of King's College, Halifax, NS.

Honouring excellenceDr. Françoise Baylis shares her thoughts on being featured in the Official Black History Month Poster. (17 Feb 2006). Dal News, Dalhousie University, Halifax NS.

Interviews (Podcasts, Radio, TV & Video)

#178 Germline ethics. (13 Feb 2020). Host: Nicolas Terry. The Week in Health Law with Nicolas Terry (publication date: 16 Mar 2020).

Gene editing, slow science and public engagement. (18 Dec 2019). Host: Alex Woodson. Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs.

Bioethicist warns against using gene-editing technology to solve social problems. (24 Oct 2019). Host: Laura Lynch. CBC Radio (The Current).

The human genome belongs to you. (27 Sept 2019). Host: Mike Spear. Genomics Blog, Genome Alberta.

#11 What is CRISPR? Françoise Baylis talks futurism, gene-edited babies, and bioethics. (3 Jun 2019). Host: Emily Kumler. Empowered Health.

#105 Françoise Baylis: The Ethics of CRISPR-cas9 Gene Editing Technology. Host: Ricardo Lopes. The Dissenter.

#104 Françoise Baylis – Impact Ethics. (19 May 2018). Host: Allen Saakyan. Simulation.

Françoise Baylis: bioéthicienne. (12 Feb 2016). Carte de Visite, Télévision française de l'Ontario (TFO).

Science in the city: Research ethics: The obligations to include pregnant women in research. (14 Feb 2012). McMaster TV.