UCSF Medical Cultures Lab Seminar: Mobilization of expert knowledge and advice for the management of the COVID-19 pandemic in Italy

by Silvia Camporesi, PhD
April 13, 2021
10:10 -11:30 am Pacific Time (6:10-7:30 pm British Standard Time)

Join Zoom here

Dr. Camporesi will present her work, as part of the larger ESCAPE project, on the mobilization of expert knowledge and advice for the management of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 in Italy. The research aimed to evaluate the role played by expert advisory bodies during the COVID-19 outbreak in Italy in 2020, and to understand how expert advice (mainly, although not exclusively, scientific) has been sought for, produced and utilized in the design and implementation of COVID-19 measures in Italy, across the first and second wave in 2020. Dr. Camporesi investigated discrepancies between pre-existing pandemic plans and the coping strategies that emerged during the pandemic, as well as the dynamic relation between the different institutions and expert bodies involved in the pandemic response. The Italy case study is particularly interesting as Italy represents the first country in the Western world having to face and manage the SARS-CoV-2 outbreak in 2020.

Bio: Silvia Camporesi, PhD, is Associate Professor of Bioethics at King’s College London, where she is the Director of the MSc in Bioethics & Society. Dr. Camporesi is an interdisciplinary scholar at heart, with a longstanding interest in emerging biotechnologies and health. She was trained first in biotechnology (University of Bologna) and later in philosophy of medicine (King’s College London). In 2011/12, she was a visiting research fellow in the Department of Social Sciences & Humanities at UCSF (formerly known as Department of Anthropology, History and Social Medicine).

Dr. Camporesi has worked on questions of public trust in expert knowledge in a variety of contexts; on the question of ethical expertise, and written on the topic of intergeneration ethics conflicts and ethical justification of public health policies in the pandemic.

With Professor Federica Angeli, at the University of York, she is study lead for Italy for the ESCaPE research project: ‘EScAPE COVID-19: Evaluating Science Advice in a Pandemic Emergency’

Registration now open for 2021 Baron De Lancey Lecture “Law, Hormones and Sport: A Level Playing Field?”, March 30th 5:30 pm GMT


Tuesday, 30 March, 2021 – 17:30 to 19:00 GMT


The recording of the lecture and Q&A is available here:

For more information about the Centre for Law, Medicine and Life Sciences, or the Baron de Lancey Lectures, click here. For questions, please email us at: lml.law.cam.ac.uk

Zoom seminar Tuesday February 23rd 5:30 pm CET: “The legacy of Caster Semenya: Unfair Advantages, Equality of Opportunity and The Construction of Categories in Sport”


On September 8th, 2020, South African middle-distance Caster Semenya lost her appeal to the Swiss Federal Supreme Court against the World Athletics regulations restricting testosterone levels in female runners.[1]. This was the last episode of an international legal case which was ignited at the Berlin World Track Championship in 2009, and lasted more than ten years, seeing two legal appeals brought to the Swiss Court for Arbitration in Sport against World Athletics, one in 2015 (CAS 2015); and one in 2019 (CAS 2019). The judgment of the 2020 Swiss Federal Court is also likely to seal Semenya’s track and field career, as there is no higher judicial body for appealing the decision.

While both her legal case and professional track & field career may have come to their conclusions, Semenya’s case has generated an intricate web of unresolved questions for classification in sport centered around the kernel of: What counts as unfair advantage in sport?

In this talk I aim to disentangle this key issue by providing a critical analysis of the legal framing of the key CAS ruling; and by comparing the specific property advantages of Caster Semenya and Eero Mäntyranta, a Finnish a cross‐country skier active in the 1960s with an exceptionally high haematocrit level (60). I will examine whether there is a relevant difference between their property advantages that would justify treating the athletes differently[2]. I will propose the criterion of ‘equality of opportunity’ within the same category as a local criterion of fairness under certain conditions. I will argue that its proper application beyond Semenya’s property advantage requires opening up the discussion on the justification of existing categories in sport. This is, beyond the conclusion of her ten-years legal battle, the legacy of Caster Semenya for international sports regulation.

[1] https://apnews.com/article/switzerland-track-and-field-archive-courts-caster-semenya-bd69bc7ea983d9a1959813402d3d3472

[2] https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/bioe.12827

The recording of the webinar is now available here: