Dr. Françoise Baylis


Industry: Education & Health Care
Title: Professor and Canada Research Chair
Province: Halifax, Nova Scotia
Heritage: Barbados, England

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[dropcap]D[/dropcap]r. Françoise Baylis, CM, ONS, FRSC, FCAHS is the Canada Research Chair in Bioethics and Philosophy at Dalhousie University. Her internationally renowned work in bioethics focuses on women’s reproductive health, genetics and genomics, research with human participants (including human embryos), public health, and novel neuro-technologies. Her philosophical writings, grounded in feminist relational theory, focus on issues of intergenerational justice, conscientious objection, and personal identity. Her first, now classic, article on personal identity is “Black as me: Narrative identity” which explores identity claims in relation to debates about race and genetics.

Françoise is an acclaimed scholar whose work challenges others to think broadly and deeply about questions regarding who controls, and who benefits from, health research and technology. She has numerous edited and co-edited books, approximately 200 publications, and millions of dollars in research grants (which have mostly been used to train the next generation of ethicists). Françoise has trained close to 50 graduate and post-graduate students.

Françoise is an effective health policy adviser who has had a significant impact on laws, regulations, guidelines, and other public policy instruments in Canada. For example, she co-authored the original Canadian guidelines for human pluripotent stem cell research and her work has informed both Canadian and international guidelines for health-related research involving humans. She has also consulted extensively with the federal government and with provincial governments on a range of topics including assisted human reproduction, conscientious objection, clinical trial registration, pandemic preparedness, and payment for plasma.

Françoise has also served on a number of national committees and distinguished international panels. For example, she was a member of the Governing Council of the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (Canada’s national health research funding agency) (2002-2004). As well, she was a member of the inaugural Board of Directors of Assisted Human Reproduction Canada (2006-2010), and a member of the Board of Directors of the Canadian Centre for Ethics in Sport (2006-2015). Internationally, she was a member of the Organizing Committee for the International Summit on Human Gene Editing (2015), and an external reviewer for the US Institute of Medicine report Mitochondrial Replacement Techniques: Ethical, Social, and Policy Considerations (2016). — In 2017, Françoise was elected to the Board of the International Association of Bioethics.

Françoise is a frequent commentator in national media and the author of many print and online commentaries on a wide range of ethical issues. She is deeply committed to public education and engagement and her blog Impact Ethics is one of many initiatives aimed at promoting ethics literacy.

Works: Recent collected editions include: Clinical Research Involving Pregnant Women (2016); Family-making: Contemporary Ethical Challenges (2014); Health Care Ethics in Canada (3rd Ed., 2012); and The ‘Healthy’ Embryo: Social, Biomedical, Legal and Philosophical Perspectives (2010). Recent Journal Special Issues include: Transnational reproductive travel. International Journal of Feminist Approaches to Bioethics (2014); and Neuroethics. Bioethics (2009). Peer-reviewed academic articles appear in various disciplinary journals including: the American Journal of Bioethics; Bioethics; The Hastings Centre Report; Journal of Medical Ethics; Journal of Medicine and Philosophy; Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology Canada; and McGill Journal of Law and Health. In addition, there are non-academic articles for the general public in newspapers and online blogs.

An interview with Dr. Françoise Baylis – Identity. Relationships. Belonging.

  • Member of the Order of Canada and the Order of Nova Scotia.
  • Elected Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada and of the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences.
  • The Canadian Bioethics Society Lifetime Achievement Award (2017)
  • The Royal Society of Canada McNeil Medal for Public Awareness of Science (2016)
  • The Canadian Association of University Teachers Distinguished Academic Award (2016).
  • Her biography is included in the Souvenir Book “Beyond Rum and Salt Fish” commemorating Barbados’ 50th Anniversary of Independence as a Nation (2016)
  • Featured in Who’s Who in Black Canada (since 2004).
  • In 2006, she was one of four Barbadians featured on the annual Official Black History Month Poster, along with Dr. Joyce Ross, writer Austin Clarke and Deputy Chief Keith Forde.


Favourite book

Still Alice by Lisa Genova. On my reading, this is a story about memory, belonging, and recognition. The lesson I learned from this book is that while Alzheimer’s disease robs the person of memory, whether it also robs her of belonging and recognition is up to us—all of us. Read my blog Still Alice Meets Still Gloria, then read my mother’s biography in Black in Canada – Gloria Baylis.

Favourite quote

“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.” ~ Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

“I’m not ready to make nice / I’m not ready to back down / I’m still mad as hell and I don’t have time / To go round and round and round / It’s too late to make it right / I probably wouldn’t if I could / ‘Cause I’m mad as hell, can’t bring myself / To do what it is you think I should.” – “I’m Not Ready To Make Nice” ~ Dixie Chicks

On my bucket list

In 2013, I travelled “Out of the Northwest Passage”. The mountains, the icebergs, the wilderness were so impressive. Our farthest north was 79 03”N, only 657 nautical miles from the North Pole. I don’t expect that I will be able to get as close to the South Pole, but I would like to see the Antarctic.

Inspiring people

Courageous women who fully use their talents to advocate for the right and good.

My fuel

I know that I have a privileged life and I want to use my talents “to make the powerful care.” I also recognize that we are all frail and fallible and that I need to remember this while I advocate for change(s) that others find threatening.

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