Category Archives: Bioethics

Webinar Giovedì 11 febbraio 17:00: Vaccini covid, credibilità e fiducia nella scienza

Giovedì 11 febbraio 2021 ore 17:00 – 19:00

I vaccini contro il Covid sono stati visti come fattore di salvezza dalla pandemia e sono stati elaborati con grande rapidità grazie anche alla grande collaborazione tra gli scienziati nello scambio di dati e informazioni. Tuttavia la rapidità ha suscitato forme di diffidenza che già erano latenti nei confronti delle vaccinazioni. Nel dibattito si cerca di fare il punto sulla situazione.



Appointment to WADA Ethics Expert Advisory Group

I am delighted to have been appointed to the WADA Expert Ethics Advisory Group for two years.

The Expert Ethics Advisory Group is called upon to review “urgent or contentious ethical issues that may arise in the fight against doping in sport, and to develop and/or recommend ethically sound policy or suggestions to WADA’s Management as deemed appropriate by the Group”.

The World Anti-Doping Agency (more commonly known as WADA) exists to lead sports movements and governments around the world in researching and monitoring doping, while also developing anti-doping capacities and enforcing the World Anti-Doping code.

It was established in 1999 after a doping scandal in the cycling events of the 1998 Olympic Games shook organisers and the public. Since then WADA has enjoyed the support of public and private sporting bodies, inter- and nongovernmental organisations, public authorities and governments in their efforts to combat doping in international sport.

I look forward to working together with a terrific team of internationally renowned scholars led by Professor Bartha Maria Knoppers at McGill University.

Terms of reference and current composition of WADA’s expert advisory group is available here:,suggestions%20to%20WADA’s%20Management%20as

First term 2 BIOS Seminar announced: Professor Ilana Löwy “How to prevent a vaccination disaster? Lessons from a massive contamination of yellow fever vaccine during WWII”

I am delighted to announce that the first BIOS event will take  on January 26th at 1:15 pm via Zoom.  Professor Ilana Löwy, Senior Researcher at the French National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS) and Visiting Professor at GHSM, on the topic of:

How to prevent a vaccination disaster? Lessons from a massive contamination of   yellow fever vaccine during WWII. 

When: Tuesday Jan 26th 1:15 -2:30 pm 

Where:  Zoom Meeting 

EMAIL ME AT for the zoom link!

About the speaker: 

Professor Ilana Löwy is senior researcher at the French National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS) and Visiting Professor at GHSM. Trained as a biologist and as a historian of science and medicine, her research focuses on the relationship between laboratory investigations and clinical practices during the twentieth century. This includes the bacteriological revolution; the history of bacteriology and immunology; the history of medicine and the biomedical sciences in ‘peripheral’ countries (Latin American and Eastern European countries); evolution prenatal screening and prenatal testing, gender and biomedicine. 


The rapid manufacture of anti-covid vaccine is often presented as an unprecedented event. This is inaccurate. In late 1930s the life attenuated 17D vaccine against yellow fever was produced and  massively applied in a record time (less than a year). 17D was, and still is, an excellent vaccine. Its rapid diffusion led, however, to several problems, the most important among them was the massive contamination of yellow fever vaccine distributed in 1942  to the US army by hepatitis B virus. The US part of this story is — relatively– well known, but its Brazilian part much less. In 1940 scientists who produced the 17D vaccine in Rio de Janeiro found out that it was contaminated by  an ‘icterus virus’ originated in normal human serum. They solved this problem through the exclusion of human serum from the vaccine’s production chain, but failed to persuade their US colleagues to accept their conclusion. The Rio experts, aware of potential pitfalls of a new technology, systematically supervised the consequences of their vaccination campaigns. They were thus able to rapidly spot problems linked with vaccination and eliminate them. By contrast US scientists, persuaded of their technical superiority and distrustful of warnings originated in a ‘less developed’ country, neglected to implement basic public health rules. A major health disaster followed.