John Harris - Biography#

Full CV(info).

John Harris was educated at the University of Kent and at Balliol College, Oxford.

From March 30th 2004 to July 2011 John Harris was the joint Editor-in-Chief of The Journal of Medical Ethics, the leading journal in medical and applied ethics. John Harris was elected a Fellow of the United Kingdom Academy of Medical Sciences (FMedSci) in 2001, the first philosopher to have been elected to Fellowship of this new National Academy, which was established to serve “the medical sciences in the same way as the Royal Society serves the natural sciences (and) the British Academy serves the humanities”. He was elected a Fellow of The Royal Society of Arts in 2006 of the Society of Biology in 2011 and is a Member of Academia Europaea (The Academy of Europe) 2011.

He was one of the Founder Directors of the International Association of Bioethics and is a founder member of the Board of the Journal Bioethics and a member of the Editorial Board of the Cambridge Quarterly of Healthcare Ethics and many other journals. He frequently appears on radio and television both in the United Kingdom and overseas to discuss Biomedical Ethics, Medical Jurisprudence and related issues. He has acted as Ethical Consultant to national and international bodies and corporations including the European Parliament, The World Health Organisation, The European Commission, The Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), The United Kingdom Department of Health, The Health Council of the Netherlands, The Research Council of Norway, The Welsh Office Of The United Kingdom, The British Fluoridation Society, Granada Television, Virgin Health Bank, Smithkline Beecham and GlaxoSmithkline. He is the founder and a General Editor of a major series of books for Oxford University Press entitled Issues in Biomedical Ethics and a new series of books which he co-edits with Sir John Sulston (Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine 2002) is published by Bloomsbury and entitled Science, Ethics and Society was launched in 2009.

John Harris has served on many advisory bodies, he was a member of the United Kingdom Human Genetics Commission (HGC) from its foundation in 1999 until 2010 and was a member of The Ethics Committee of the British Medical Association for more than fifteen years. He was a member of the United Kingdom Government Advisory Committee on Genetic Testing from its inception in 1996 until its closure in 1999. He recently served on of the Working Group of the United Kingdom Academy of Medical Sciences on Animals Containing Human Material. He was a member of The United Kingdom Committee on Ethical Aspects of Pandemic Influenza and of The Royal Society Project “Brainwaves” on which he served on two working parties. He was a member of The Working Group of the Academy of Medical Science, The Medical Research Council, The Royal Society and The Wellcome Trust on the use of non-human primates in research 2006 and of the Working Group of the Academy of Medical Sciences on Interspecies Embryos 2007.

In 1986 John Harris jointly founded The Centre for Social Ethics and Policy of the University of Manchester. CSEP became one of the leading centres of biomedical ethics and law in Europe with major funding from the European Commission and participation in a number of projects throughout the European Union. CSEP initiated the innovative taught Master's Degree programme in Health Care Ethics which admitted its first students in 1987. It was one of the first and is one of the most successful and comprehensively interdisciplinary of such programmes in Europe, attracting around forty students annually and recruiting internationally. CSEP pioneered the Intercalated BSC in Health Care Ethics and Law, which was the first of such courses to open in the United Kingdom. In 1996 the Institute of Medicine, Law and Bioethics was launched by the Universities of Manchester and Liverpool with the support of the North West Region Health Authority. John Harris was one of its architects and is one of the founder directors. IMLAB was designated a “Marie Curie Training Site” by the European Commission in 2000, confirming its international reputation for the excellence of its research and teaching. From 1996 until 1999 Harris chaired a major working party on “Values and Attitudes on Ageing” for the internationally known charity Age Concern as part of their initiative “The Millennium Papers”.

In October 2007 The University of Manchester announced the establishment of a major new Institute, The Institute for Science, Ethics and Innovation (iSEI). John Harris was Director of this new Institute which was Chaired by Sir John Sulston until Harris and Sulston both retired in 2016 and the Institute ceased to exist (all post docs and fellows of iSEI having gone on to distinguished posts elsewhere).

From 1994 to 2007 John Harris directed six major projects for the European Commission. Two of these projects, both under the general title: "AIDS: Ethics, Justice and European Policy" involved 34 groups from 14 countries reported in 1998. These projects were funded at 448,700ECU (approximately £378,000). From April 1996 to September 1999 the European Commission (DGXII) supported project entitled Communicable Diseases, Lifestyles and Personal Responsibility: Ethics & Policy was funded at 500K ECU (then £416,600). A major project for the European Commission (Directorate General Research) entitled “EUROSTEM” investigated and monitored ethics and policy issues surrounding the progress of human stem cell research. This award of € 747000.00 funded the project for three years from 2001. From February 2004 “EURECA” began under the European Commission Directorate General for Research (FP6). This project was funded at €700,000.00 and analysed the nature and ethical parameters of scientific research. In 2009 The Wellcome Trust funded iSEI as one of its Strategic Programmes in Bioethics with John Harris as Director. The funding is worth over £800,000.00 over 5 years.

John Harris is the author or editor of twenty-one books and over three hundred papers. His most recent book: How to be Good was published by Oxford University Press in 2016. He has published in most of the leading philosophical journals in his field including The Journal of Medical Ethics, Bioethics, The Cambridge Quarterly of Healthcare Ethics, The Hastings Centre Report, Philosophy, The Philosophical Quarterly, The Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society and Philosophy & Public Affairs. He has also published in many of the leading science journals including Nature [Impact factor 34.480], Nature Reviews Genetics [Impact Factor 27.822], Nature Reviews Cancer [Impact Factor 29.538], Science [Impact factor 29.747], Cell Stem Cell [Impact Factor 23.563], Journal of Clinical Oncology [Impact factor 17.793], Annals of the New York Academy of Science [Impact Factor 2.67], Lancet Oncology [Impact Factor 13.283.], Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences [Impact Factor 9.432] and The British Medical Journal [Impact Factor 12.287].

John Harris has throughout his career defended broadly libertarian - consequentialist approaches to issues in bioethics. This has made him a leading defender of the rights of the individual to access medical technology and to benefit from medical services. He has defended the individual’s entitlement to these things regardless of age, life expectancy, level of disability, quality of life or genetic pre-disposition to illness. He has been and remains a leading critic of paternalistic or restrictive approaches to regulation or legislation of access to medical services or technology.

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