The Nordic Committee on Bioethics arranges conferences in the Nordic countries within the area of bioethics, with special reference to issues in life sciences, biotechnology, medicine, governance, society, and practical philosophy, including dilemmas in health care and research.

The conferences are free and open to the public. You will find information on registration under each event.

Watch videos of talks from our previous webinars and conferences on our YouTube channel

If you share or discuss NCBio events, feel free to use the hashtag #ncbioevents.

Upcoming events

The Ethics of Artificial Intelligence in Healthcare and Research

The interest in the use of artificial intelligence (AI) in healthcare and healthcare research is in rapid growth and many people from healthcare, research and not least enterprises believe this will revolutionise our healthcare system.

When: 2 November 2021 in Odense, Denmark

For more information and registration.

Previous webinars and events

Webinar series:
Ethics of the Covid-19 Pandemic – Nordic Perspectives

During 2020 and 2021, the Nordic Committee of bioethics (NCBIO) was hosting a webinar series on bioethical aspects of the COVID-19 pandemic in the Nordic countries. The aim was to identify ethical aspects of the pandemic, to look at policies and debates with a view on differences and similarities between the countries.

Part 5:  A Health and Human Rights Perspective

When: 21 April 13:00 – 14:00 (CEST)

Watch the webinar

The fifth webinar in the series evaluates legislative responses to COVID-19 through a health and human rights lens, focusing on restrictions on movement. Using examples from European countries, including Denmark and Ireland, the extent to which governments have adopted a proportionate response will be explored.

Keynote speaker: 
Katharina Ó. Cathaoir, Assistant Professor in Health Law, Faculty of Law, University of Copenhagen and principal investigator of a project mapping legal responses to COVID-19 funded by the Danish Council for Independent Research.

Gro Nystuen, Assistant director of the Norwegian National Human Rights Institution.

Moderated by Janne Rothmar Herrmann, JUR Centre for Advanced Studies in Biomedical Innovation Law,University of Copenhagen and member of the NCBio.

Part 4: Justifying Policy Choices in a Pandemic

When: 19 March at 11:00 – 12:00 (CET)

Watch the webinar

The Nordic Committee of bioethics (NCBIO) is hosting a webinar series on bioethical aspects of the COVID-19 pandemic in the Nordic countries. The aim is to identify ethical aspects of the pandemic, to look at policies and debates with a view on differences and similarities between the countries.

The fourth webinar in the series will discuss the handling of the Icelandic authorities of Covid-19. Their decision making will be evaluated in light of both substantial and procedural principles of public health ethics.

Keynote speaker: 

  • Vilhjálmur Árnason, Professor of Philosophy and Chair of the Centre for Ethics, University of Iceland


  • Kristine Bærøe, Associate Professor, Department of Global Public Health and Primary Care Bergen Centre for Ethics and Priority Setting
  • Janne Rothmar Herrmann, JUR Centre for Advanced Studies in Biomedical Innovation Law,
    University of Copenhagen and member of the NCBio
Part 3: A bioethical approach to priority settings of vaccines. Case Norway

When: 3 February 2021, 1:00-2:00 pm (CET)

Watch the webinar

Part 3 of the webinar series is arranged in cooperation with the Norwegian Biotechnology Advisory Board.

The contribution from Norway is based on a report from a working group established by the Norwegian Institute of Public Health to advise the Norwegian government on priority settings for the COVID vaccine.
The recommendations were published in Norway in November 2020 and can be read here.


1:00 pm  
Opening of the webinar by the session chair, Truls Petersen, The Norwegian Biotechnology Advisory Board and member of NCBio

1:05 pm
Keynote: A bioethical approach to priority settings of vaccines. Case Norway
by Reidun Førde, MD and professor emerita in medical ethics at Center for medical ethics at University of Oslo

1:25 pm  
Commentary by professor Sigur∂ur Kristinsson, University of Akureyri, Iceland, chair of the NCBio

1:35 pm  
Commentary by docent and university teacher Helena Siipi, University of Turku

1:45 pm  
Q & A

2:00 pm  
End of webinar

Part 2: Ethical choices in a pandemic – a Swedish perspective

Tuesday, November 24, 2020 at 1:00 PM – 2:00 PM (CET)

Watch the webinar

Part 2 of the webinar series is arranged by Nordic Committee on Bioethics (NCBio) in cooperation with the Swedish National Council on Medical Ethics (Smer)

The aim of this webinar is to identify ethical aspects of the pandemic, with an emphasis on examining cross-country similarities and differences regarding policy and public debate across the Nordic countries. We aim to follow the development from the outbreak of the pandemic and over time.

The contribution from Sweden is based on a report published by the Swedish Medical Ethics Council (Smer) in May 2020. The report is available here.

1:00 pm   
Opening of the seminar by the session chair, professor Ingemar Engström, Örebro University, Sweden, member of the NCBio

Welcome by professor Sigur∂ur Kristinsson, University of Akureyri, Iceland, chair of the NCBio and Lotta Eriksson, secretary general Smer

 1:05 pm   
Keynote: Ethical choices in a pandemic – a Swedish perspective
by professor emeritus Göran Collste, Linköping University, Sweden, member of Smer

1:25 pm    
Commentary by professor Kirsten Kyvik, University of Southern Denmark, member of the NCBio

1:35 pm    
Commentary by professor Jan Helge Solbakk, University of Oslo, Norway

1:45 pm    
Q & A

2:00 pm   
End of webinar

Part 1: Matti Häyry: Can Crisis Leadership Be Ethics Communication?

Friday 16 October 2020 at 2-3 pm (CET)

Watch the webinar


2 pm 
Opening of the Seminar Series
by Professor, Chair of the NCBio Sigurður Kristinsson (University of Akureyri)

2.05 pm 
Keynote: “Can Crisis Leadership Be Ethics Communication?” 
by Professor Matti Häyry, Aalto University, Finland

2.30 pm 
Commentary on the Keynote by Professor Eyja Margrét Brynjarsdóttir, University of Iceland

2.40 pm 
Commentary on the Keynote by Senior Lecturer, a Member of the NCBio Madeleine Hayenhjelm, Umeå University

2.50 pm 
General Discussion (Q&A)

3 pm 
End of webinar 
The webinar is chaired by Docent, and Member of the NCBio Marko Ahteensuu, University of Helsinki 

DNA in police work. New methods. New challenges?

Webinar 23-25 September, 2020

This event, originally planned as a traditional conference in Oslo spring of 2020, was translated into a three-day webinar, keeping the original speakers but moving into a new format. Over three days, speakers from a diversity of areas such as forensic science, crime investigation, law, biochemistry and anthropology, discussed the ethical issues and developments in the practice and regulation of DNA in police work.

Programme and speaker videos

Wednesday 23 September:
11 am – 1.15 pm (Oslo time): Talks followed by Q&A

Thursday 24 September:
11 am – 1.30 pm (Oslo time): Talks followed by Q&A

Friday 25 September:
11 am – 12.30 pm (Oslo time). Roundtable discussion  

Organizers: The Nordic Committee on Bioethics and The Norwegian Biotechnology Advisory Board

Speaker videos:
Playlist of speaker videos on YouTube

Article (in Norwegian) on here and another article here

In the mid-1980s, a method for identifying individuals through DNA analysis was invented. Today, DNA fingerprinting is used all over the world in cases involving criminal activity and missing persons.

These tests use part of the DNA, previously known as junk DNA, that don’t code for actual characteristics in people. This has been viewed as a strength of the method in light of privacy considerations.

However, in recent years new methods for using DNA in police work have been developed. We now have the ability to search for a partial match of a DNA profile and identify potential family members, whether in police or private ancestry databases. Another method, known as DNA phenotyping, involves genetic testing that can provide information about what an unknown suspect might look like. This method may be useful when there is no matching DNA profile in the
Both methods have been used to help solve cases. In Europe, however, only a few countries have amended its legislation to allowed new uses of DNA testing. In many countries the legal framework is uncertain.

The use of new DNA methods raises questions relating to technology, legal framework and ethics.

We will focus on the ethics of the subject and have invited people with different backgrounds to discuss topics such as:

  • Which challenges are known from police work today and which are new?
  • Regulation and practice in the Nordics and in Europe
  • Privacy and genetic integrity
  • Profiling and discrimination: Is this technology neutral or are there embedded biases?
  • The ethics of visual representations: Are visual traits less stigmatising? Or the opposite?
  • Technologisation: A space left for human judgment?
  • Good and bad practice: The ethics of context and communication

Detailed webinar programme

Wednesday 23, 11 am – 1.15 pm (Oslo time): Talks followed by live panel discussion   
Moderator: Sigurður Kristinsson, NCBIO

  • Welcome
  • Keynote: Matthias Wienroth, VC Senior Fellow, Centre for Crime & Policing, Department of Social Sciences, Northumbria University, Newcastle upon Tyne, UK
    «The Ethical Governance Imperative: Forensics & Surveillance at a Crossroads»
  • Q&A


  • Jari Louhelainen, Biochemistry, University of Helsinki, Faculty of Science, University of Liverpool: «Who was Jack the Ripper? New opportunities in forensic DNA analysis: from drownings to wolfs»

12.00-13.15 Perspectives from the Nordics

  • Björgvin Sigurðsson, Reykjavik municipal police: «Forensic DNA in Iceland: Past, present and possible future»
  • Andreas Tillmar, University of Linköping, Sweden. «Application of investigative genetic genealogy in Sweden»
  • Turid Haugen Tor, The National Criminal Investigation Service (KRIPOS) Norway: «DNA in police work in Norway»
  • Q&A

Thursday 24, 11 am – 1.30 pm (Oslo time): Talks followed by live panel discussion

Moderator: Madeleine Hayenhjelm, NCBIO

  • Welcome
  • Keynote: Amade M´charek, prof. of Anthropology of science, University of Amsterdam
    “Race Trouble and Forensic Genetics: The Case of Investigative Methods”
  • Q&A


  • Thomas Berg, Centre for forensic science, UiT The Arctic University of Norway: «Forensic DNA Phenotyping: Towards predicting human appearance from crime scene DNA»

12.00-13.30 Ethical perspectives

  • Mareile Kaufman, PRIO and Department of criminology and sociology of law, University of Oslo: «The digitization of DNA evidence – What is at stake?»
  • Gabrielle Samuel, Kings college London: «Ethical and social challenges of ´new´ forensic genetic technologies»


  • Roos Hopman, University of Amsterdam: «Accuracy, commonality, and valuing: the differing logics of forensic DNA phenotyping»
  • Jens Erik Paulsen, The Norwegian Police University College, Oslo: «Trustworthiness, emergent technology and the Dirty Harry Problem»
  • Q&A

Friday 25, 11 am – 12.30 pm: Panel discussion and commentary. Live webinar

Moderator: Truls Petersen, NCBIO / The Norwegian Biotechnology Advisory Board

  • Welcome
  • Comments from invited guests
    Shoaib Sultan, politician, NorwayHeather Dewey-Hagborg, artist, USAPer Arne Kalbakk, ethics editor NRK, NorwayEirik Natås Hanssen, scientist, Oslo University Hospital, Norway
  • Live roundtable discussion

Events in 2019

Ethics of health care and research in small-scale communities

Torshavn, 12 September, 2019

The conference was held at the University of the Faroe Islands on 12 September, 2019. 

Playlist with videos from the conference

 University of the Faroe Islands, Kongshøll, Vestarabryggja 15, 100 Tórshavn

Providing high-quality health care and research to citizens living in small-scale communities (SCCs) raises a number of ethical challenges. SCCs are often located in geographically remote areas where resources are scarce and access to professional expertise is limited. The health care professionals and researchers working in these communities are likely to know – even be in family with – the people they treat, nurse, and invite to participate in research. This may create a number of challenges related to privacy and confidentiality.

Issues of stigmatization may also arise when the patients, who belong to a community where “everybody knows each other and everybody’s business”, suffer from mental illnesses and infectious diseases. Ethical issues may also be encountered when ethnic groups and immigrants with different perspectives and cultural values are involved. Currently, health care professionals and researchers receive little support in addressing such complex ethical issues.

A Kodak moment? The effects of consumer genetics on medicine and society

The seminar was a collaboration between The Nordic Committee on Bioethics and The Norwegian Biotechnology Advisory Board and part of the the 33rd European conference on philosophy of medicine and health care: PHILOSOPHY AND ETHICS AT THE EDGE OF MEDICINE.

You can watch any of the talks by clicking on the titles below – or watch the full playlist here

New offers of direct-to-consumer genetic testing and new ethical problems
Emilie Niemiec, Centre for Research Ethics & Bioethics, Uppsala University, Sweden

DTC GT in a Small and Homogenous Population: The Future of Health Care or a Pandora Box of Insurmountable Societal Challenges?
Henry Alexander Henrysson, Dep. of philosophy, University of Iceland / The National Bioethics Committee.

Ascertaining child’s ‘best interests’ through direct-to-consumer genetic testing: what could possibly be wrong with that?
Santa Slokenberga, medical law, University of Lund / Centre for Research Ethics & Bioethics Uppsala, Sweden

The Danish Council on Ethics recommendations about Genome Testing with focus on Direct to consumer genetic testing.
Anne-Marie Axø Gerdes, Professor, Dep. of Clinical Genetics, Rigshospitalet, Copenhagen University Hospital and The University of Copenhagen, Denmark. Chair of The Danish Council of Ethics.

Madeleine Hayenhjelm (NCBIO) and Truls Petersen (NCBIO/The Norw. Biotechn. Adv. Board)

Bioethics of clinical innovation and unproven methods

Copenhagen, 9 April 2019

The conference was organized by the Nordic Committee on Bioethics in collaboration with Centre for Legal Studies in Welfare and Market at the University of Copenhagen.

Below you can see the conference program – see slides from each talk by clicking on the titles. Abstracts for each talk can be found here.

Video playlist with talks and panel discussions

Clinical innovation involves development of new techinques, methods, treatments and diagnostics for detecting, alleviating and curing diseases. By nature novel clinical methods and treatments are unproven when first developed. 

Through the centuries, medicine has advanced by trials and errors of physicians and researchers experimenting with treatments and methods. The failure of certain methods are inseperable from success of others, because a priori it is hard to know what works and what does not. The scientific method is the preferred approach to develop cures and treatments, but many current medical practices were not developed by strict scientific testing or trials. Healthcare professionals may try unproven methods, for instance as a last resort in attempt to safe a life. 

Such unproven methods for clinics and health care, occur at the intersect of basic research and standard health-care and raise number of bioethical issues. Those include the following issues:  Do patients have sufficient and equal access to the experimental methods? Are patients protected from harm when unproven methods are tested? Who should make decisions about when to experiment with a treatment? How can society and the health care system best simultaneously promote clinical innovation and protect patients?

Conference program

Session 1 – How are clinical innovations/unproven methods developed and introduced?
“Ethics and Policy Surrounding Patient Access to Experimental Therapy”, Professor Jonathan Kimmelman, Director of Biomedical Ethics Unit, McGill Uiversity, Canada
“Experimental oncolytic immunotherapy for individualized treatment of cancer patiets incurable with routine approaches ”, Professor Akseli Hemminki , University of Helsinki, Finland
“ Developing a cancer vaccine, and challenges in performing clinical trials of experimental therapies” ,
Professor Steinar Aamdal, University of Oslo, Norway
“We can do better – a patient perspective”, Anne Sofie Boldsen Salicath, MD, Patient group representative, Denmark

Session 2 – What is the legal and regulatory environment concerning clinical innovations in medicine?
“The room for clinical innovation under Swedish law “, Senior Lecturer Lena Wahlberg, Lund University, Sweden
“The regulatory challenges in regards to clinical innovation”, Professor Mette Hartlev, University of Copenhagen, Denmark
“Regulating Risk in Surgical Innovation? A UK perspective, Dr. Jonathan Ives, University of Bristol, UK

Session 3 – What ethical principles should guide work on emerging treatments and experimentation in hospitals?
“Novel medical treatments, innovation, hope and headlines”Catherine Joynson, Assistant Director, Nuffield Council on Bioethics, UK
Harms and benefits in clinical innovation, Dr. Gardar Arnason, University of Tübingen, Germany
“Ethical principles in unproven methods – is there a need for regulations?”, Professor Ingemar Engström, Örebro University/NCBio, Sweden

Earlier events

Events 1991–2018

List of NCBio events from 1991 to 2018


Bioethical perspectives on new developments in non-invasive prenatal diagnosis (NIPD):
Session at the World medical association conference on medical ethics
Reykjavik, 3 October 2018

Lifestyle diseases: Responsibility and Ethics – Helsinki, 11 – 12 June 2018
Read the Report from the conference here


Session at the Nordic Societal Security Programme Conference – Copenhagen, 10 March 2017

Session at #NeIC2017: Bioethics of Databanks and Datasharing – Umeå, 29 May 2017

Facing Death: End of life decisions – Reykjavik, 15 September 2017

Hard Choices in Nordic Health Care 2.0 – Stockholm, 20 November 2017


Biotechnology for a longer life – Aalborg, 9 December 2016

Gene therapy and human germline editing: New opportunities, new challenges – Oslo, 2 June 2016


Session on Sensitive Data at #NeIC2015
Helsinki, 5 May, session at the Nordic e-Infrastructure Conference 2015

Ethical Dilemmas of Consuming Animals – Seminar in Helsinki 27-28 August

Hard Choices in Nordic Health Care – Expensive treatments and priority settings
Workshop in Stockholm, 16 November

Updated version of Legislation on biotechnology in the Nordic countries

Report on biotechnological legislation in the Nordic countries


Session on Neurological Enhancement – Helsinki 10 June

Synthetic Biology; Bioethics and Biosafety – Conference in Tromsø 28 August

Whole-genome sequencing and the implications for health care – Do we have a right not to know? – Workshop in Reykjavik, 16-17 October

Report on biotechnological legislation in the Nordic countries


Reproductive technology and surrogacy. A global perspective
A conference in Reykjavik August 25-27 was arranged, which also included a PhD session

The committee participated, with the title «The role of the press and the public in exposing scientific and medical fraud», in the World Conference of Science Journalists in Helsinki June 24-28.

Perspectives on Sexual Identity and Gender
A workshop on bioethical issues in relation to sexual identity and gender was arranged in Copenhagen April 18


Focus group meeting in Copenhagen October 22

Childrens’s Participation and Decision-Making in Medical Matters
Conference in Lund, October 11-12

Hunting and Protecting of Marine Mammals – a Clash of Cultures?
Conference in Tórshavn, Faroe Islands, June 4-5


Ethical aspects on Mental Health
Conference in Helsinki October 31 – November 1

Nordic Biobanks – Opportunities and Obstacles
Conference in Uppsala in cooperation with The Centre for Research Ethics & Bioethics at Uppsala University and BioBanking and Molecular Resource Infrastructure of Sweden

A joint meeting with members from all bioethical committees in the Nordic countries took place in Copenhagen on 21 March.


Prenatal Diagnosis – Individuals and Society
Conference in Oslo 2-3 December in cooperation with Norwegian Biotechnology Advisory Board

Public Health – Ethical Issues
Conference in Reykjavik 30-31 August


Bioethics of Bioenergy
Conference in cooperation with The Finnish Parliament, Helsinki 17 November

Medical Tourism – Exploitation of vulnerable persons or a healthy supplement to the Nordic health care system?
Conference at Sigtuna, Sweden 11-12 May

Genetic Self Testing
Conference at Aarhus University, Denmark 14-15 January


Chimera Research – ethical and legal aspects
In cooperation with The Danish Council of Ethics and The Danish Ethical Council for Animals, Copenhagen 5 November.

Teaching Material in Bioethics
A workshop with the purpose to identify excellent teaching material

Bioethics of the Sea II
In cooperation with The cooperation in Fisheries and Aquaculture the committee organized a seminar in Stockholm on bioethical issues concerning Nordic fisheries


Dialogue on Dignity, Disability, Discrimination and Diagnostics
A meeting to discuss the challenges and possibilities that developments in biotechnology and changes in cultural values may create for the disabled in contemporary Nordic society.
A meeting for invited participants 19-20.10.2007 in Reykjavik.

Bioethics or biopolitics?
Is bioethics being replaced by biopolitics or vice versa?Seminar 11-12.6.2007, Hanaholmen, Esbo, Finland


Business and Bioethics Seminar in Malmö 15-16.10.2006

Informed consent – in whose interest? Minisymposium 13.6.2006, Sandhamn


Nordic Biolaw – Focus on Assisted Reproduction
A seminar at Hanaholmen in Finland 7.11.2005

Bioethics of the Sea
Workshop in Bergen, Norway 1-3.9.2005

Towards Nordic Biopolitics?
A seminar on biotechnology and bioethics.
Arranged by the Nordic Council and the Nordic Committee on Bioethics 26.1.2005 in Copenhagen.


Bioprophecy – the future of ethics and biotechnology
Think tank for invited participants 25-26 November 2004 in Denmark.

Preimplantation Genetic Diagnosis and Embryo Selection
International conference in Reykjavik 28-29.5.2004


Biomedical Research Ethics
A workshop for specialists in bio- and research ethics from the Nordic and Baltic countries in Finland 16-17.10.2003

2001 Teaching Bioethics: A Nordic workshop on how to best teach bioethics.

2000 The ethical issues in human stem cell research

1999 Who owns our genes?

1998 Bioethics committees in the Nordic countries

1997 Biobanks

1996 Transgenic animals and xenotransplantation

1995 Gene therapy

1994 Predictive genetic testing

1993 Genetically modified organisms

1992 Patenting life?

1991 Risk, biotechnology and ethics