About Me




I am a moral philosopher with expertise in bioethics. I work on both applied and theoretical issues in ethics. Below is a more detailed account of my background and current research.

Current Academic Position

Lecturer in Medical Ethics [Permanent][March 2017 – Present], Lancaster Medical School, Lancaster University.


Previous Academic Positions

Research Associate [1 September 2016 – 28 February 2017] , Department of Politics, Philosophy and Religion, Lancaster University.

Research Associate [2013-2016], Centre of Medical Law and Ethics, The Dickson Poon School of Law, King’s College London.


  • PhD in Bioethics (Moral Philosophy), University of Cambridge [2014]

Thesis title: Should children be told if they were conceived using donated reproductive tissue: the ethics of disclosure and the welfare of children

Supervisors: Professor Susan Golombok & Professor Hallvard Lillehammer

  • Master of Bioethics (Moral Philosophy), New York University [2009]
  • Honors BSc in Bioethics (Moral Philosophy) & Life Sciences, University of Toronto [2008]

Overview of current/ongoing research

My research is focused on applied issues in ethics and political philosophy, and theoretical issues in these sub-fields of philosophy (e.g the conceptual nature of trust; hope; and privacy). As often as possible, I attempt to bridge the gap between theoretical and applied issues, and engage with policy and regulation.

In applied ethics I am currently engaged in a major programme of research that looks at the ethics and regulation of ‘radically new’ reproductive technologies. ‘Radically new’ reproductive technologies are technologies that are a significant departure from standard practices or existing technologies. These technologies include:

  • Mitochondrial replacement techniques (aka ‘three person IVF)
  • In-vitro derived gametes (aka artificial gametes or synthetic gametes)
  • Synthetic human entities with embryo like features (SHEEFs)
  • Synthetic embryos
  • Gene-editing embryos
  • Ectogenesis (pregnancy outside the human body)

My work has been published in peer-reviewed philosophy journals and science journals, and reported on in the media (e.g. BBC, Financial Times). My research has also been used in reports by international organisations such as the Nuffield Council on Bioethics, the US National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine, and governmental organisations such as the UK Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority, the UK Department of Health, and the Singapore Ministry of Health’s Bioethics Advisory Committee.

Additional biographical details

I graduated from the University of Toronto in 2008 with an Honours BSc in Bioethics (moral philosophy) and life sciences.  While completing my undergraduate studies, I also held research assistantships at the University of Toronto Institute for the History and Philosophy of Science and Technology and the Joint Centre for Bioethics.

In 2009 I graduated from NYU with an MA in bioethics. While at NYU, I also worked with the NGO ‘We Act for Environmental Justice’ to help research and design a model of community based ethics review for public health research.

After being awarded a Wellcome Trust PhD Studentship in Bioethics, I went on to complete a PhD at the Centre for Family Research at the University of Cambridge (Corpus Christi College). My thesis was titled: ‘Should children be told if they were conceived using donated reproductive tissue: The ethics of disclosure and the welfare of children’ (a University of Cambridge Research news article on my work can be found here). I have given evidence and contributed research to a number of policy-based consultations held by the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority, the Department of Health and the Nuffield Council on Bioethics.

In 2012 I co-edited (with Martin Richards and Guido Pennings) a published volume titled Reproductive donation: practices, policies and bioethics (Cambridge University Press). I have also co-edited a new book with Professor Rosamund Scott, Professor Stephen Wilkinson, Professor Susan Golombok, and Professor Martin Richards, which is titled ‘Regulating Reproductive Donation’ (Cambridge University Press)(2016).


Email: j.appleby@lancaster.ac.uk

Twitter: @johnbappleby

Google Scholar Profile

University – Personal Webpage 

Office Address:

Room B28
Lancaster Medical School
Furness College
Lancaster University
Lancaster, LA1 4YW
United Kingdom