On 19 – 20 June 2018, the Institute of Medical Ethics held its annual summer research conference in Oxford. Every year the conference attracts a wide range of international attendees from across the broad spectrum of bioethics, including philosophers, social scientists, historians, legal scholars, clinicians, and others, all with a shared interest in ethical issues in the biomedical sciences. The conference is a popular and high profile event in the bioethics conference calendar and this year ROADMAP’s Alex McKeown from the University of Oxford attended and gave a presentation entitled ‘Neuroethics in dementia prevention: ethical issues in early intervention for better life long brain health – findings from the ROADMAP project‘, which we report on here.
Alex’s talk achieved two aims. First, he gave a broad overview of the ROADMAP project, its rationale, structure, participants, aims, and its published findings to date. In particular this part of the presentation focused on the importance and value of harnessing real-world data for improving outcomes across the Alzheimer’s disease (AD) spectrum. Second, he presented some (neuro) ethical challenges, which have emerged from the challenge that ROADMAP has been devised to meet, and which have become salient through his involvement in Work Package 8, the Ethical, Legal, and Social Implications component. Looking to the future of AD prevention and treatment, Alex outlined some of the ethical ramifications that are likely to arise from:
- increasingly accurate early risk disclosure and diagnosis;
- the transformation of AD into a population-level public health prevention priority rather than only one of standard remedial clinical medicine; and
- the use of big data predictive analytic strategies for developing more effective early interventions.
The presentation was well attended and received and the conference provided an ideal opportunity to publicise ROADMAP’s work within the international bioethics community. Alex will be making a similar presentation on these issues later this year, at the annual conference of the European Society for the Philosophy of Medicine and Healthcare in Lisbon, August 2018.