Early Career Fellow in Bioethics

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MA(Hons), MLitt by research, LLM(Dist.), PhD


Emily is an Early Career Fellow in Bioethics. She is also Deputy Director of the JK Mason Institute for Medicine, Life Sciences and the Law, with particular responsibility for the Institute’s policy engagement portfolio.

She is an interdisciplinary bioethicist with a background in philosophy. She has philosophy degrees from the University of Edinburgh and the University of Stirling, and an LLM from the University of Edinburgh. She was awarded her PhD for her thesis ‘Defining Ourselves: narrative identity and access to personal bioinformation’ in 2017. She is a research fellow on the Wellcome Trust funded project, Confronting the Liminal Spaces of Health Research Regulation.

Current Research Interests

Emily’s main research interests lie in exploring the ways that identity features in bioethical debates about new technologies and uses and management of personal information, and in locating key interests arising from identity practices. Her wider research interests include:

  • Neuroethics
  • Ethical governance of genertic information
  • Conscientious objection in healthcare
  • Consent and shared decision-making
  • Biomedical research ethics, particularly disclosure of research findings
  • The ethics of novel reproductive technologies

She is a member of the Scottish Feminist Judgments Project, in which legal judgments in important Scottish cases are revisited to imagine might have been decided differently if the judge had adopted a feminist perspective.

Research Groups

Mason Institute for Medicine, Life Sciences and the Law

Liminal Spaces in Health Research Regulation 

Northern Bioethics Network

Scottish Feminist Judgments Project 

Courses Taught

Biotechnology Bioethics and Society (LLM) (Course Organiser)

Biotechnology Bioethics and Society () (Course Organiser)

Fundamental Issues in Medical Jurisprudence (LLM)

Fundamental Issues in Medical Jurisprudence (Honours)

Fundamentals in Bioethics () (Course Organiser)

Fundamentals in Bioethics () (Course Organiser)


Graeme Laurie, Edward S. Dove, Emily Postan, 'Familial genetic risks: How can we better navigate patient confidentiality and appropriate risk disclosure to relatives?', (2019), Journal of Medical Ethics
Abstract: This article investigates a high-profile and ongoing dilemma for health care professionals,namely whether the existence of a (legal) duty of care to genetic relatives of a patient is a help or a hindrance in deciding what to do in cases where a patient’s genetic information may have relevance to the health of the patient’s family members. The English case ABC v St George’s Healthcare NHS Trust and others considered if a duty of confidentiality owed to the patient and a putative duty of care to the patient’s close relatives could co-exist in this context. This article examines whether embracing the concept of co-existing duties could enable health care professionals to respect duties in line with their clinical judgement,thereby providing legal support and clarity to professionals to allow them to provide the best possible genetics service to both the patient and their family. We argue that these dual duties, framed as a novel, composite duty to consider the interests of genetic relatives,could allow health care professionals to exercise and act on their professional judgements about the relative value of information to family members, without fears of liability for negligence or breach of confidence.

Emily Postan, 'Defining ourselves: Personal bioinformation as a tool of narrative self-conception', (2016), Journal of Bioethical Inquiry, Vol 13, pp 133-151
Abstract: Where ethical or regulatory questions arise about an individual’s interests in accessing bioinformation about herself (such as findings from screening or health research), the value of this information has traditionally been construed in terms of its clinical utility. It is increasingly argued, however, that the “personal utility” of findings should also be taken into account. This article characterizes one particular aspect of personal utility: that derived from the role of personal bioinformation in identity construction. The suggestion that some kinds of information are relevant to identity is not in itself new. However, the account outlined here seeks to advance the debate by proposing a conception of the relationship between bioinformation and identity that does not depend on essentialist assumptions and applies beyond the narrow genetic contexts in which identity is customarily invoked. The proposal is that the identity-value of personal bioinformation may be understood in terms of its instrumental role in the construction of our narrative identities, specifically that its value lies in helping us to develop self-narratives that support us in navigating our embodied existences. I argue that this narrative conception provides useful insights that are pertinent to the ethical governance of personal bioinformation. It illuminates a wider range of ethical considerations in relation to information access; it accounts for variations in the utility of different kinds of information; and it highlights that the context in which information is conveyed can be as important as whether it is disclosed at all. These arguments are illustrated using an example drawn from psychiatric neuroimaging research.


Agomoni Ganguli-Mitra, Emily Postan, 'Greater Glasgow Health Board v Doogan and another (Scotland) ' in Scottish Feminist Judgment Project ( 2019)