Welcome Letter


On behalf of the planning committee of the 15th World Congress of Bioethics, we invite you to join us in Philadelphia on June 19-21, 2020 to immerse yourself in three days of cutting-edge bioethics research, networking, and fun!

The conference theme is Autonomy and Solidarity: Bridging the Tensions.  We describe here the ways in which this timely theme weaves together important strands in bioethics and offers a major unifying thread for the conference.  

Reflecting on the boundaries of solidarity and deciding who is deserving of assistance, rights, or respect has also recently become of increasing political importance, including in the United States.  Recognizing these developments, our planning group has a two-fold aim for this Congress. First, as all previous Congresses, we want to showcase the best in bioethics research from both established and new scholars. Second, we want to facilitate networking and the unique exchange of ideas that emerges when people from different disciplines, cultures, mindsets, and methodological approaches engage with one another to genuinely see the other.  Needless to say, this second objective is also one shared by all previous Congresses aiming to foster inter- and transdisciplinary bioethics—but its urgency has perhaps never been greater.  

At every step in planning the Congress, we were clear that solidarity must be reflected throughout the program design.  We highlight just three core elements here. To enable the widest range of participants to join us, we have worked with Penn’s International Student and Scholar Services, which has provided helpful resources, and will assist with challenges in the visa process. Before going live with the conference website, we raised $50,000 for bursaries for participants from low- and middle-income countries and for early career researchers. Through a novel conference support fund, we hope to allow participants who are able to contribute to show solidarity with those who need assistance to attend the conference.  

Please browse the other sections of the website for other ways in which we aim, before and during the Congress, to practice solidarity—the most important cosmopolitan antidote to isolation and division.  

We look forward to seeing you in Philadelphia in June 2020 in one of the country’s most diverse cities, home to one of the oldest and largest “Gayborhoods” in America as well as to vibrant African American, Asian, Latino, and Native American communities. The University of Pennsylvania, likewise, is considered extremely diverse in the composition of its students, faculty and staff, embraces interdisciplinary work like few other universities, offers ample green space on its campus, and provides an ideal setting for the 2020 World Congress.   

On behalf of the 2020 planning group, we look forward to seeing you in Philadelphia!


Jonathan Moreno, Co-Chair

Harald Schmidt, Co-Chair



World Congress of Bioethics (WCB)

The International Association of Bioethics (IAB) awarded the 15th World Congress of Bioethics (WCB) to the University of Pennsylvania, taking place June 19-21, 2020. The WCB aims to be truly international, linking all those working in bioethics and related fields, facilitating mutual contact, and encouraging the discussion of cross-cultural aspects in bioethics. Past Congresses have been held in Bangalore (2018), Edinburgh (2016), Mexico City (2014), Rotterdam (2012), Singapore (2010), Croatia (2008), China (2006), Australia (2004), Brazil (2002), the United Kingdom (2000), Japan (1998), the United States (1996), Argentina (1994), and Amsterdam (1992).


International Network on Feminist Approaches to Bioethics (FAB)

The FAB is the IAB’s largest sub-network. The FAB convenes a 2 day meeting immediately prior to the WCB, June 17-18, 2020.


Planning Committee
University of Pennsylvania Department of Medical Ethics and Health Policy

Ezekiel Emanuel
Vice Provost for Global Initiatives

Chris Feudtner
Affiliated Faculty

Steve Joffe
Division Chief

Jonathan D. Moreno
Primary Faculty, WCB Co-Chair

Harald Schmidt
Primary Faculty, WCB Co-Chair

Pamela Sankar
Primary Faculty

Connie Ulrich 
Affiliated Faculty

Medical Ethics and Health Policy Staff

Amy Ashbridge
Director of Fiscal Operations

Angela Golub
Executive assistant to Zeke Emanuel

Mary Pham
Administrative Coordinator

Emily Walters
Assistant to Steven Joffe, M.D., MPH

Scientific Advisory Committee

Pamela Andanda, University of the Witwatersrand, Kenya | Sunita Bandewar, Indian Journal of Medical Ethics, India | Alena Buyx, Technical University Munich, Germany | Alex Capron, University of Southern California, United States of America | Sarah Chan, Mason Institute, Scotland | Dafna Feinholz, United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization | Henk ten Have, Duquesne University, Netherlands |
Samia Hurst-Majno, University of Geneva, Switzerland | Calvin Wai-Loon Ho, National University of Singapore, Singapore | Florencia Luna, FLACSO Argentina, Argentina | John McMillan, University of Otago, New Zealand | Signe Mezinska, University of Latvia, Latvia | Laura Palazzzani, Lumsa University, Italy | Vardit Ravitzky, University of Montreal, Canada | Annette Rid, National Institutes of Health, United States of America | Mohamed Salah Ben Ammar, Health of Tunisia, Tunisia | Delia M. Sanchez Varela, University of the Republic, Uruguay | Michael Selgelid, Monash University, Australia | Nayha Sethi, Mason Institute, Scotland | Daniel Strech, Universitätsmedizin Berlin, Germany | Anita Tal-Dia, Cheikh Anta Diop University, Senegal | Renzong Qui, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, China