At the Frontier: The Ethics of Innovative Surgery

A Neuroethics Seminar Series Event

September 10, 4:30-6PM 
Harvard Medical School, Armenise Building D, Amphitheater
210 Longwood Ave, Boston, MA 02115
This event is open to the public

All modern surgical techniques were once new, so the ethics of surgical innovation is not a new topic. But as our understanding of the brain advances, so does our ability to surgically treat disorders such as epilepsy, Parkinson's disease, and possibly even depression. Increasingly, we must consider whether innovation in brain surgery poses any special ethical challenges.

Since alterations in the brain have the potential to alter cognition, personality, and even the sense of self, do surgical innovations require special ethical consideration? Should "invasiveness" matter ethically, or do we simply weigh risks against benefits?  Should we have distinct policy or regulation regarding neurosurgical innovation? Do patients contemplating such innovations require special protections?


  • Paul Ford, PhD, Director of the NeuroEthics Program at Cleveland Clinic
  • Darin D. Dougherty, MD, Director, Division of Neurotherapeutics, Department of Psychiatry, Massachusetts General Hospital
  • Elizabeth Hohmann, MDChair and Physician Director, Partners Human Research Committees