Chancellor's Fellow in Legal & Ethical Aspects of Biomedicine, Co-Director, Mason Institute for Medicine, Life Science and the Law

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 Dr. Agomoni Ganguli-Mitra is Chancellor’s Fellow in the Legal and Ethical Aspects of Biomedicine, and Co-director of the JK Mason Institute for Medicine, Life Sciences and the Law. She is also a member of the Wellcome Trust-funded Centre for Biomedicine, Self and Society. Dr. Ganguli-Mitra’s background is in bioethics, with a special interest in global bioethics, structural and gender justice. She has written on ethical issues related to global surrogacy, sex-selection, biomedical research in low-income countries, social value in research governance and the concepts of exploitation and vulnerability in bioethics.

She is currently PI on a Wellcome Trust funded project entitled, Vulnerability and Justice in Global Health Emergency Regulation: Developing Future Ethical Models (2018-19).

Ph.D. supervision interests
Dr. Ganguli-Mitra welcomes expressions of interest in all areas of medical ethics/bioethics, global health ethics and justice.

Current Research Interests

  • Global bioethics and justice in global health
  • Structural injustice, epistemic injustice, exploitation and vulnerability in bioethics
  • The ethics of global health emergencies
  • Surrogacy and gender justice
  • Social norms in bioethics
  • Sex-selection and gender justice
  • Conscientious objection in healthcare
  • Ethics and governance of biomedical research
  • Public health ethics
  • Bioethics and Law

Courses Taught

Fundamental Issues in Medical Jurisprudence (Honours)

Books and Reports

Agomoni Ganguli Mitra, Nayha Sethi, Conducting research in the context of global health emergencies: Identifying key ethical and governance issues, (Nuffield Council on Bioethics, 2016)


Graeme Laurie, Edward S. Dove, Isabel Fletcher, Agomoni Ganguli-Mitra, Catriona McMillan, Nayha Sethi, Annie Sorbie, 'Charting regulatory stewardship in health research: Making the invisible visible?', (2018), Cambridge quarterly of healthcare ethics, Vol 27, pp 333-347
Abstract: This article analyses a hitherto largely obscured feature of regulatory environments in health research, namely, the role of regulatory stewardship. Through examples drawn from research ethics committees, emerging technologies, and governance of research resources, it outlines the essential features of regulatory stewardship, and argues that this concept can demonstrate considerable added value for all parties in delivering and benefiting from efficient and effective navigation of regulatory landscapes. It offers an exposition of the normative principles and associated responsibilities of the concept. The extant invisibility of regulatory stewardship requires fuller recognition and better integration of the approach into the effective functioning of law and regulation in the health research context.

Agomoni Ganguli Mitra, Edward S. Dove, Graeme Laurie, Samuel Taylor-Alexander, 'Reconfiguring social value in health research through the lens of liminality ', (2017), Bioethics, pp 87-96
Abstract: Despite the growing importance of ‘social value’ as a central feature of research ethics, the term remains both conceptually vague and to a certain extent operationally rigid. And yet, perhaps because the rhetorical appeal of social value appears immediate and self-evident, the concept has not been put to rigorous investigation in terms of its definition, strength, function, and scope. In this article, we discuss how the anthropological concept of liminality can illuminate social value and differentiate and reconfigure its variegated approaches. Employing liminality as a heuristic encourages a reassessment of how we understand the mobilization of ‘social value’ in bioethics. We argue that social value as seen through the lens of liminality can provide greater clarity of its function and scope for health research. Building on calls to understand social value as a dynamic, rather than a static, concept, we emphasize the need to appraise social value iteratively throughout the entire research as something that transforms over multiple times and across multiple spaces occupied by a range of actors.

Samuel Taylor-Alexander, Edward S. Dove, Agomoni Ganguli Mitra, Graeme Laurie, Isabel Fletcher, Katy Mcmillan, 'Beyond regulatory compression: Confronting the liminal spaces of health research regulation', (2016), Law, Innovation and Technology, Vol 8, pp 149-176
Abstract: Biomedicine and the life sciences continuously rearrange the relationship between culture and biology. In consequence, we increasingly look for a suitable regulatory response to reduce perceived uncertainty and instability. This article examines the full implications of this ‘regulatory turn’ by drawing on the anthropological concept of liminality. We offer the term ‘regulatory compression’ to characterise the effects of extant regulatory approaches on health research practices. With its focus on transformation and the ‘in-between’, liminality allows us to see how regulatory frameworks rely on a silo-based approach to classifying and regulating research objects such that they: (1) limit the flexibility necessary in clinical and laboratory research; (2) result in the emergence of unregulated spaces that lie between the bounded regulatory spheres; and (3) and curtail modes of public participation in the health research enterprise. We suggest there is a need to develop the notion of ‘processual regulation’, a novel framework that requires a temporal-spatial examination of regulatory spaces and practices as these are experienced by all actors, including the relationship of actors with the objects of regulation.

Edward S. Dove, Isabel Fletcher, Agomoni Ganguli Mitra, Graeme Laurie, Catriona McMillan, Nayha Sethi, Annie Sorbie, Samuel Taylor-Alexander, 'Conference report: 13th World Congress of the International Association of Bioethics, Edinburgh 14-17 June 2016 (IAB2016)', (2016), SCRIPTed, Vol 13, pp 202-209

Edward S. Dove, Agomoni Ganguli Mitra, Graeme Laurie, Catrinona McMillan, Samuel Taylor-Alexander, 'Elberte v. Latvia: Whose tissue is it anyway – Relational autonomy or the autonomy of relations?', (2016), Medical Law International, Vol 15, pp 77-96
Abstract: A European Court of Human Rights decision rendered in January 2015 (Elberte v. Latvia) has raised a curious question regarding the nature and scope of the right for relatives to consent to or to oppose the removal of a deceased person’s tissues. The decision suggests that Council of Europe member states must clearly define the scope of the right for relatives to express their preferences for removal of a deceased’s tissue or organs – provided such a right has been created in law – and member states must define the corresponding obligation or margin of discretion conferred on experts or other authorities to explain these rights to the relatives. Notwithstanding, this article asks whether the decision could open the door to a free-standing right for relatives to oppose removal of their deceased relative’s tissues or organs, regardless of the deceased person’s own wishes, in the name of the relatives’ human ‘right to respect for private life’.

Agomoni Ganguli Mitra, 'David Jacobson, Of Virgins and Martyrs: Women and Sexuality in Global Conflict (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Press, 2013) ', (2015), Global Justice: Theory, Practice, Rhetoric, Vol 8, pp 97-102

Agomoni Ganguli Mitra, Verina Wild, 'Meeting the Authors: A Workshop on Social Justice in Public Health with Ruth Faden and Madison Powers', (2013), Public Health Ethics, Vol 6, pp 1-2

Agomoni Ganguli Mitra, 'Off-shoring Clinical Research: Exploitation and the Reciprocity Constraint', (2013), Developing World Bioethics, Vol 13, pp 111-18
Abstract: The last 20 years have seen a staggering growth in the practice of off-shoring clinical research to low-and middle-income countries (LICs and MICs), a growth that has been matched by the neoliberal policies adopted by host countries towards attracting trials to their shores. A recurring concern in this context is the charge of exploitation, linked to various aspects of off-shoring. In this paper, I examine Alan Wertheimer's approach and offer an alternative view of understanding exploitation in this context. I will suggest that the justification for the enterprise of research is largely dependent on its integration within a health system from which participants regularly benefit and I argue that an attention to a principle of reciprocity will enable us to better recognize and address exploitation in international research.

Agomoni Ganguli Mitra, Nikola Biller-Andorno, 'Vulnerability and Exploitation in a Globalized World ', (2013), International Journal of Feminist Approaches to Bioethics, Vol 6, pp 91-102

Agomoni Ganguli Mitra, Markus Schmidt, Helge Torgersen, Anna Deplazes, Nikola Biller-Andorno, 'Of Newtons and heretics ', (2009), Nature Biotechnology, Vol 27, pp 321-22

Markus Schmidt, Agomoni Ganguli Mitra, Helge Torgersen, Alexander Kelle, Anna Deplazes, Nikola Biller-Andorno, 'A priority paper for the societal and ethical aspects of synthetic biology ', (2009), Systems and Synthetic Biology, Vol 3
Abstract: As synthetic biology develops into a promising science and engineering field, we need to have clear ideas and priorities regarding its safety, security, ethical and public dialogue implications. Based on an extensive literature search, interviews with scientists, social scientists, a 4 week long public e-forum, and consultation with several stakeholders from science, industry and civil society organisations, we compiled a list of priority topics regarding societal issues of synthetic biology for the years ahead. The points presented here are intended to encourage all stakeholders to engage in the prioritisation of these issues and to participate in a continuous dialogue, with the ultimate goal of providing a basis for a multi-stakeholder governance in synthetic biology. Here we show possible ways to solve the challenges to synthetic biology in the field of safety, security, ethics and the science–public interface.

Agomoni Ganguli Mitra, Alexander Morgan Capron, Alexandre Mauron, Bernice Simone Elger, Andrea Boggio, Nikola Biller-Andorno, 'Ethical Norms and the International Governance of Genetic Databases and Biobanks: Findings from an International Study', (2009), Kennedy Institute of Ethics Journal, Vol 19, pp 101-24
Abstract: This article highlights major results of a study into the ethical norms and rules governing biobanks. After describing the methodology, the findings regarding four topics are presented: (1) the ownership of human biological samples held in biobanks; (2) the regulation of researchers’ use of samples obtained from biobanks; (3) what constitutes “collective consent” to genetic research, and when it is needed; and (4) benefit sharing and remuneration of research participants. The paper then summarizes key lessons to be drawn from the findings and concludes by reflecting on the importance of such empirical research to inform future governance norms and practices.

Markus Schmidt, Helge Torgersen, Agomoni Ganguli Mitra, Alexander Kelle, Anna Deplazes, Nikola Biller-Andorno, 'SYNBIOSAFE e-conference: Online community discussion on the societal aspects of synthetic biology', (2008), Systems and Synthetic Biology, Vol 2, pp 7-17
Abstract: As part of the SYNBIOSAFE project, we carried out an open electronic conference (e-conference), with the aim to stimulate an open debate on the societal issues of synthetic biology in a proactive way. The e-conference attracted 124 registered participants from 23 different countries and different professional backgrounds, who wrote 182 contributions in six different categories: (I) Ethics; (II) Safety; (III) Security; (IV) IPR; (V) Governance and regulation; (VI) and Public perception. In this paper we discuss the main arguments brought up during the e-conference and provide our conclusions about how the community thinks, and thinks differently on the societal impact of synthetic biology. Finally we conclude that there is a chance for an open discourse on the societal issues of synthetic biology happening, and that the rules to govern such a discourse might be set up much easier and be respected more readily than many would suggest.


Agomoni Ganguli-Mitra, 'Exploitation through the lens of structural injustice Revisiting global commercial surrogacy' in Monique Deveaux, Vida Panitch (ed.) Exploitation (Rowman and Littlefield Publishers 2017) 139-156

Working Papers

Samuel Taylor-Alexander, Edward Dove, Agomoni Ganguli Mitra, Graeme Laurie, Isabel Fletcher, Catriona McMillan, 'Confronting the Liminal Spaces of Health Research Regulation: Beyond Regulatory Compression' 2015

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