PhD Student

Last application date
Nov 07, 2021 00:00
LW01 - Department of Philosophy and Moral Sciences
Limited duration
Master level in Philosophy, in Moral Sciences or equivalent
Occupancy rate
Vacancy type
Research staff

Job description

We are recruiting a PhD student to work on the ERC-funded DIME project “Disruptive innovation in healthcare requires disruptive innovation in medical ethics”. You will be working with the PI, 1 post-doctoral researcher and another PhD student.
The project studies how several recent medical innovations do not conform with the way medicine traditionally operates. These innovations, oftentimes based on AI and big data, rather blur the boundaries of medicine and/or side-line the traditional doctor-patient relationship. Examples of this are health apps, direct-to-consumer genetic testing, disease surveillance, electronic patient records, telehealth and certain types of clinical decision support systems. The project postulates that several of these innovations may change the concept of medicine and thus turn out to be disruptive innovations.
Given that medical ethics is tailored to ‘traditional’ medicine, we should be critical about its current ability to cope with these changes, and investigate whether it is sufficiently equipped to deal with such disruptive innovations in healthcare.
An important aspect of these developments is the way in which disruptive innovations in healthcare may induce shifts in responsibilities, with possibly important legal and ethical implications. We are hiring 2 PhD students to investigate these challenges.
Your main research objective will be to critically analyze these shifting moral responsibilities in healthcare as a consequence of disruptive innovations, with a two-fold focus on (A) responsibilities shifting from healthcare professionals to non-medical players and (B) responsibilities shifting from healthcare providers to data collectors.
As regards the former, the introduction of computerized medical devices, including AI technologies, is of great importance and has led to a partial shift in responsibilities from physicians to tech companies. In the light of this, questions arise whether medical professionals’ responsibilities can/should be outsourced to machines and how this may impact physician-patient relationships. Similarly, questions will have to be answered about the responsibilities that come with large scale data collection, which underlies many disruptive innovations. Those collecting and distributing health-related data (possibly commercial companies) carry an enormous responsibility regarding the impact such data can have on individuals and society, and calls for reflection on modalities of individual and collective oversight.
The other PhD student that will be hired on the DIME project, will be working on two similar, closely related objectives.

We offer

  • A hot-topic research domain with clear practical relevance;
  • Involvement in the ERC-funded DIME project, embedded in the inspiring environment of the Bioethics Institute Ghent (gathering bioethics expertise at Ghent University) and the METAMEDICA platform (gathering expertise on legal and ethical implications of innovation in health care).
  • A full-time position for four years as a PhD student, subject to positive evaluation after one year;
  • An internationally competitive salary determined by the salary scales for PhD students. 
  • Your contract will start on Feb 1, 2022 at the earliest.
  • All Ghent University staff members enjoy a number of benefits, such as a wide range of training and education opportunities, 36 days of holiday leave (on an annual basis for a full-time job) supplemented by annual fixed ‘bridge days’, a bicycle allowance and eco vouchers. Click here for a complete overview of all the staff benefits (in Dutch). You will be allocated office space and a laptop, and receive funding for research activities like attending conferences abroad and organizing workshops and conferences.

Job profile

Job profile

  • You have a passion for research and for medical ethics.
  • You are interested in and motivated by the research topic, as well as in obtaining a PhD degree.
  • You possess strong analytical skills.
  • You have a relevant degree – Master level in Philosophy, in Moral Sciences or equivalent.
  • You have an impressive track record (study results, publications and/or awards).
  • You are able to take on responsibilities, take initiative and work independently on your research but also as part of a team.
  • You have excellent written and oral communication skills in English.
  • You are willing to provide support for the organization of conferences, workshops and meetings of the DIME project and the METAMEDICA platform.
  • Experience with interdisciplinary work, a background in healthcare and/or an interest in health law is positively evaluated.

How to apply

Submit the following documents by email to with cc to :

  • Motivation letter
  • Curriculum vitae (please mention your grades for bioethics, medical ethics or related courses)
  • A writing sample (publication, research essay, master thesis, …)
  • Copy of diploma’s

Please put ‘DIME PhD 2’ in the email subject line.
If you apply for both positions, please specify in your motivation letter which of both topics appeals to you most and why.

All required documents need to be submitted, merged in 1 single pdf-file.

Top-ranked candidates will be invited for an interview (either on-site or online) in the course of November-December.

For inquiries concerning the position, contact Prof. Dr. Heidi Mertes (