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Hier erhalten Sie einen Überblick über die wichtigsten aktuellen und die bereits abgeschlossenen Forschungsprojekte von Professor Spranger.

Aktuell laufende Projekte / Current Research Projects

iRecs- improving Research Ethics Expertise and Competencies to Ensure Reliability and Trust in Science

iRECS, an EU funded Horizon Europe project, is based on the foundational assumption that ethical research is key to high quality research and a prerequisite for achieving public trust and innovation in Europe and beyond. A key pathway for promoting awareness of the ethical requirements associated with new research fields and technologies is the development and implementation of innovative, cutting-edge training programmes. Such trainings can also improve ethics review processes in a way that they are not perceived as a burden on research and innovation, but rather as a support mechanism for connecting science and society.

iRECS will address these problems in four ways. First, iRECS will scan and map existing needs raised by new and emerging technologies in European and global research ethics communities. Second, it will produce and implement training materials for European and global audiences in research ethics communities. Third, it will conduct and permanently establish training programmes. Fourth, it will propose adaptations to the research ethics process in Europe. Through a unique blend of expertise, global partners and the involvement of European research ethics networks as partners or members of the Stakeholder Advisory Board, iRECS will develop a fresh awareness of research ethics and sustainable, multi-purpose, multi-language interactive training programmes for different users. The project thus extends ENERI and the Embassy of Good Science into a horizontal community of research ethics practitioners, policy makers and other key stakeholders.

"INPI - International Neuroethics Patent Initiative"

Since April 2021, Prof. Spranger has been coordinating the externally funded project "INPI - International Neuroethics Patent Initiative", which is being conducted jointly with the Canadian neuroethicist Prof. Dr. Judy Illes.

Patents granted in the field of neuroscience cover diverse areas of diagnostics, devices, data processing methods and computational models, and networks and systems related to the central nervous system. Historically, patent protections have safeguarded the intellectual property of creative neuroscience discoverers and inventors, and offered financial incentives for innovation. Today, however, the far-ranging scope of neuroscience patents may lead not only to obstacles to research, but to massive threats to personal rights, human dignity, and health data protection. Compounding this threat are notions about “mind reading” and "the transparent brain" arising from new capabilities of both invasive and non-invasive brain computer interfaces (BCIs) involving signal recording and regional tissue stimulation variously in healthy individuals, and patients with neurological and psychiatric disorders. Here we propose to use methods from legal scholarship and the social sciences to: (1) examine patents already granted, (2) classify them into the applicable patent law, (3) address the question of the viability of the patent law that applies to them, (4) elucidate perspectives about the desirability and pitfalls of patents pertaining to brain from neuroscientists, patent lawyers, and patent officers, and other expert informants, and (5) close identified gaps that are unfulfilled and may place individuals, patients and society at risk. The limited discourse to date on brain patents is thus extended fully through this work and will, above all, be brought into patent law and policy decision-making.

The project runs from 01.04.2021 - 31.03.2024 and is funded by the BMBF under the funding code 01GP2122.

FUNUS-Foundation: gravestones from child labour

For some years now, the cemetery and burial laws of the German states have been emphatically dedicated to combating the worst forms of child labour as defined by the ILO Convention 182. In particular the aim is to prevent the use of gravestones, grave borders and other elements of burial that have been produced in violation of the Convention. Almost all recent state cemetery and burial laws address this problem and authorize cementery poerators to include corresponding prohibition clauses in their statitory clauses, or originally stipulate such prohibitions.
Parallel to this, a wealth of court decisions have developed, not only concerning the general admissibleness of the relevant clauses, but also, and above al, the question of the requirements that must be met by sufficiently clearly formulated prohibitions. In this context, a glaring discrepancy is becoming increasingly apparent between what is emphatically intended politically on the one hand, and the implementation deficiencies that occur in practice on the other.
This project, which is funded by the FUNUS Foundation, examines the existing legal situation in the 16 state laws and identifies possible proposals for improvement. In addition, this project focuses on the practical implementation of the regulations, i.e. the extent to which the statues are implemented locally in accordance with the law.

The project runs from 01.06.2020 to 31.12.2022.

Beyond performance: Exploring the framework for artificial intelligence in brain medicine (FRAIM)

Scientists and policymakers agree that artificial intelligence (AI) is one of the most transformative forces of our time. It is widely recognized that appropriate means to oversee and regulate these transformative forces are urgently needed. One particularly important area is medicine, as the use of AI here will directly impact the lives of each of us. The overarching goal of this project is to provide a theoretically sound and empirically validated framework for evaluating the use of AI-based techniques in medical diagnosis and decision making. Neuromedicine serves as a relevant use case here. Detailed ethical and legal analyses will be conducted to identify necessary conceptual revisions. Qualitative empirical methods will be used to first explore factors of acceptance and trust related to AI-based procedures in neuromedicine. Then, two large standardized surveys will be conducted to quantitatively assess the impact of various influencing factors on the acceptance of AI innovations in neuromedicine. The results of these surveys will form the basis for the development of an evaluation framework for medical AI that is ethically and legally sound and takes into account the expectations of those who will be directly affected by the use of this novel technology.

The legal subproject will address these questions for the first time in both breadth and depth, with particular attention to the question of possible extrapolation of the most current case law.

The research consortium consists of:

Bert Heinrichs, Institute of Neuroscience and Medicine - Ethics in the Neurosciences (INM-8), Forschungszentrum Jülich (project coordinator).
Dirk Lanzerath, German Reference Center for Ethics in the Life Sciences, University of Bonn
Robert Langner, Institute for Systemic Neuroscience, University Hospital Düsseldorf, Germany
Julian Caspers, Institute for Diagnostic and Interventional Radiology, University Hospital Düsseldorf
Simon Eickhoff, Institute of Neuroscience and Medicine - Brain and Behavior (INM-7), Research Center Jülich
Prof. Dr. Dr. Tade M. Spranger, Centre for the Law of Life Sciences, University of Bonn

The project is funded by the BMBF under grant number 01GP2113B and runs from 01.12.2021 - 30.11.2024.


Completed Research Projects

  • NeuroSCAN: Ethical and Legal Aspects of Norms in Neuroimaging
    Project Coordinator: Prof. Dr. Henrik Walter, Charité Berlin
    Project leader: Prof. Dr. Dr. Tade M. Spranger
    Funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (2008-2011)
  • Mediale Bildwelten und Neurowissenschaften
    Project Leader: Prof. Dr. Dr. Tade M. Spranger
    Funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (2012-2014)
  • The reverential treatment of the human corpse in the context of burial and burial in the intersection of ethics and law
    Project Leader: Prof. Dr. Dr. Tade M. Spranger
    Funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG) (2012-2013)
  • Mediale Bildwelten und Neurowissenschaften 2.0
    Project Leader: Prof. Dr. Dr. Tade M. Spranger
    Funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (2015-2016)
  • Psychiatric Neurosurgery – Ethical, Legal and Societal Issues
    Project Coordinator: Dr. Sabine Müller
    Subproject Leader: Prof. Dr. Dr. Tade M. Spranger
    Funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (2016-2019)