Would the use of artificial wombs during pregnancy change the nature of parenthood? Can genomic analysis be used to accurately predict whether someone is likely to develop a common disease later in life? Should brain scans be used to assess whether someone is likely to commit a crime or reoffend?

These are just some of the topics identified in a new infographic, published today by the Nuffield Council on Bioethics. The infographic illustrates a wide range of developments related to biological and medical research that are likely to raise ethical issues in the near or far future.

2022 horizon scanning infographic

View an interactive version of the infographic - you can click on each of the topics to explore some of the ethical issues they may raise.

An important role of the Council is to anticipate upcoming developments related to biological and medical research and how they might impact on society. We undertake a range of horizon scanning activities throughout the year. These involve engaging with a diversity of organisations and individuals, and monitoring literature and news across different fields of interest and expertise. We publish an infographic each January to share the outcomes of these activities.

New for 2022, the infographic includes some of the wider societal and political issues that provide the context for many strands of our work – such as climate change, health inequalities, an ageing population, and more.

Sue Tansey, Chair of the Council’s horizon scanning working group, said:

“This is the fourth annual infographic we have produced and we have seen it evolve and change over that time, thanks to the many people who have shared their expertise and insights with us.”

“We hope others working in the broad field of bioethics will find the infographic useful and informative. We would love to receive feedback on anything we’ve missed and should consider including on future versions. If you have views on which topics the Nuffield Council should prioritise for future work, it would be incredibly helpful to hear those too.”

Have we missed anything? Let us know on social media (Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn) or email bioethics@nuffieldbioethics.org.

Edited on 20 January 2022 to include updated version of infographic (larger font size and black text on white background).