The Human Brain Project’s (HBP) commitment to ethics and societal values is a distinctive and sustainable approach to brain research, allowing for a broader, more inclusive perspective. To share their work in a sustainable and accessible way, the Ethics & Society team published a series of essays that reflect on their efforts. These contributions aimed to inspire ethical practices beyond mere compliance. This anthology has now been updated with contributions from Caroline Montojo, President of the Dana Foundation, among others.
In 2013, HBP set out to integrate ethical and social considerations into brain research. At that time, it was unusual in the scientific world to do so, as these aspects were often considered external responsibilities. But a group of diverse experts, including neuroscientists and philosophers, came together to champion the inclusion of ethics and society in the HBP.
They recognized that research on the brain, the seat of identity, thoughts, and feelings, cannot operate in isolation from broader social and cultural contexts. They set clear goals: anticipate and address ethical concerns early, engage with stakeholders, and ensure ethical compliance.
Interdisciplinary collaboration was key, bridging the gap between ethics and science. Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI) became a cornerstone, focusing on anticipation, reflection, engagement, and action.
The HBP’s distinctive approach was not just about ethics as a regulatory activity but as integral research. The project’s dedication to ethics and society became evident in governance structures, publications, training modules, and inclusive practices, including gender and diversity considerations.
This approach is outlined in this series of essays.
Download the collection of essays:
Bitsch, Lise, Salles, Arleen, Evers, Kathinka, et al. (2023). Ethics and Society in Brain Research: Implementing Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI) in the Human Brain Project (HBP). Zenodo. https://doi.org/10.5281/zenodo.7736402