The Quandaries of Biotechnology: Theory and Practice

Mar 22 1–6pm
BSLC 115
924 E 57th St.
Chicago, IL 60637
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Paul ScherzUniversity of Virginia

REGISTER HERE to attend the in-person symposium

REGISTER HERE to attend the Keynote Lecture on Zoom

This event is free and open to the public. This event is cosponsored by The Program on Medicine and Religion at the University of Chicago, and The Albert Gnaegi Center for Health Care Ethics at Saint Louis University. For more information, contact

How are new developments between biotechnology and big data including gene editing, brain-computer interfacing, and artificial intelligence changing our vision of what it means to be human? How does this bear in the ethical practices of medicine and research at the lab bench and at the bedside? How might an integrative vision of ethics contribute to this conversation? Are there alternative social imaginaries in which we can think about different technologies?

In this day-long spring symposium, scholars from the University of Chicago and the Chicagoland area are invited to discuss how biotechnology is shaping anthropology and whether the application of new biomedical technologies reflects an adequate understanding of human personhood. 

This event will be open to the public and seeks to engage particularly with current students, faculty, and medical practitioners interested in the intersection between science, medicine, technology, and theology. Publication of this program's proceedings is a possibility. Participants are invited to return for a second symposium in fall 2024 on biotechnology and artificial intelligence.



1:00 - 2:30 PM CT  –  Session 1

"Medicine Within the Technological Enframing" – Kyle Karches (Saint Louis University)

"The Grand Inquisitor, Mustapha Mond, and the Attack on the Transcendentals" – Stephen Meredith (University of Chicago)

Q&A, Moderated by Jeffrey Bishop (Saint Louis University)


3:00 - 4:30 PM CT –  Session 2

"Our Biotechnologies, Ourselves: Reflections on Innovation, Identity, and Culture" – Lesley Rice (Pontifical John Paul II Institute)

"Valuing the Particular: A Theological Perspective on Human Creativity and Technology"  Silvianne Aspray-Buerki (Cambridge University)

Q&A, Moderated by Jeffrey Bishop (Saint Louis University)


5:00 - 6:00 PM CT –  Keynote Lecture

"Populations, Persons, and Precision Medicine: The Ethics of Emerging Information Technologies in Genetics and Medicine"  Paul Sherz (University of Virginia)



You can view abstracts and presenter details here



This event is made possible through the support of ‘In Lumine: Supporting the Catholic Intellectual Tradition on Campuses Nationwide’ (Grant #62372) from the John Templeton Foundation.



Paul Scherz is an Associate Professor at the University of Virginia. His main area of study is the intersection of religious ethics with science, technology, and medicine. He also research the influence of the Stoic tradition of virtue ethics on Christian ethics, especially Catholic moral theology. His first book, Science and Christian Ethics (Cambridge, 2019) used virtue theory as a lens to examine the moral formation of scientists in light of the contemporary replication crisis in science. His most recent book, Tomorrow’s Troubles: Risk, Anxiety, and Prudence in an Age of Algorithmic Governance (Georgetown, 2022), examines the role that quantitative risk analysis plays in contemporary practical reason and social practice in areas such as direct-to-consumer genetic testing, risk-reducing medications, the use of algorithms in social media, and contemporary governance. He compares these attempts to control future dangers with classical understandings of prudence and Christian calls to avoid excessive anxiety over the future.

He has also written on many topics in bioethics, such as human enhancement, genetic technology, and end of life ethics, with this latter interest leading to a volume I co-edited with Joseph Davis on The Evening of Life: The Challenges of Aging and Dying Well (Notre Dame, 2020). He is currently working on projects on the ethics of the use of artificial intelligence in medicine and a book on the ethics of precision medicine.