In a world that is increasingly global – and increasingly engaged in neurosciences – how we educate scientists about the underlying values and ethics that drive brain research across cultural and continental divides is critical. The consequences of cultural misunderstandings are far from trivial for the scientific enterprise. Gaps in understanding lead to missed opportunities for collaboration to advance discoveries; limit our ability to broadly share results and reap benefits of findings; and result in a failure to recognize the unforeseen short- and long-term risks of research. As such, neuroethics has emerged as an essential tool for neuroscience serving in a horizon-scanning function to anticipate and address ethical roadblocks ahead and, ultimately, to advance and accelerate neuroscience.

The goal of the 2017 summit was to create a universal list of neuroethics questions that should be addressed in each brain project. A unique feature of our Summit versus any other similar gathering was that, while the questions themselves were universal, they were designed to be adapted and informed by the cultural values and frameworks of each country This was successfully accomplished and is now being peer-reviewed as a Perspective article for Neuron. This series continues to take a very different, yet important strategy for addressing the societal and ethical implication of emerging neuroscience and neurotechnologies. As neuroscience is now a global endeavor, neuroethics must be equally prepared to address global values.

With this year’s support, we build upon critical foundation for the fields of neuroscience and neuroethics laid in our first meeting, with the potential for our discussions to inform policy and shape funding priorities for many agencies in the future. This 2018 meeting aligns with the recently formalized efforts and creation of the IBI which, in collaboration with Kavli and other key stakeholders from existing and emerging brain projects, recognized neuroethics as one of its top priorities. With this meeting, we plan to invite all partners in the IBI as well as representatives from all existing and emerging large-scale national-level brain projects. This meeting will serve as a workshop, where each of the brain projects will come with a draft of a manuscript that discusses why and how they will integrate neuroethics into their brain projects with particular recognition of the 5 questions from our first paper in Neuron. Afterwards, these papers will be refined with input from the meeting with an expected quick turnaround for completion. Neuron editors including Mariela Zirlinger, have been extremely enthusiastic about this work and have commissioned a series of Neuroview papers for Neuron from this meeting. This will provide structure and practical deadlines as we complete this work.

Goals and Deliverables

  • Facilitate a community of multidisciplinary scholars who are attuned and inclusive to cross-cultural perspectives when engaging in neuroscience research and policy
  • Serve as an idea incubator for research collaborations and future implementation
  • Generate a series of high-profile and high-impact publication that sets neuroethics priorities for research and scholarship in global neuroscience projects
  • Create an online repository for global neuroethics discourse and education