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The Ethox Centre at Oxford Population Health has received a Wellcome award to lead a Discovery Research Platform for Transformative Inclusivity in Ethics and Humanities Research. The platform will be known as ANTITHESES. It will be a collaboration across the University’s Humanities and Medical Sciences Divisions and with partners in South East Asia, Africa, and at the London-based arts charity Culture&.

The ANTITHESES Platform for Transformative Inclusivity in Ethics and Humanities will address an urgent need for research able to engage meaningfully with the challenges of a world in which views appear more polarised than ever, disagreements in science, technology and health are profound and often have a moral dimension, and uncertainty about expertise and information is exacerbated by the volume of information and speed of dissemination.

The Platform’s activities, which will develop and test tools and methods for achieving this are organised under six complementary and connected thematic programmes. Bringing together expertise from history, philosophy, fine arts, design bioethics, sociology, and global bioethics, each programme addresses a different need for new concepts, methods, digital tools, and collaborative partnerships capable of engaging with radical value disagreements in medical science, practice, and policy. To ensure that they work effectively together, and benefit from expertise in other disciplines, our ‘connectors’ programme will engage with problems arising out of the convergence of these challenges to foster collaboration.

Professor Michael Parker, Ethox Centre Director and Professor of Bioethics, said ‘Available approaches to ethics and humanities research lack the concepts, methods, and tools to do this work. They have insufficient diversity of voices, are overly safe and conservative, and overwhelmingly Western. They have tended to exclude some problems and values as not ‘worthy’ of investigation or ‘too difficult’. New approaches are needed. ANTITHESES will enable us to design, research, and discover ways to resolve these challenges.’

ANTITHESES is one of eight Discovery Research Platforms announced today by Wellcome that will address a range of practical, technological, and methodological barriers holding up progress across a wide array of fields. Overcoming these barriers will enable researchers to ask even more creative and boundary-defying questions. The Platforms will bring together researchers, teams, and networks of collaborators to develop new tools, knowledge and capabilities, with the hope of accelerating progress for the benefit of the wider global research community.

Michael Dunn, Director of Discovery Research at Wellcome, said ‘Discovery research is essential to advancing our ability to understand and improve health. But in addition to researchers’ bold and imaginative ideas, we know that new tools, methods, and capabilities are also needed to unlock new avenues of research that can disrupt and transform the research landscape globally.’

Wellcome plans to convene all eight Discovery Research Platforms over the next year to encourage collaboration and the exchange of best practice between researchers and teams working in these environments. More information about the Discovery Research Platforms can be found on the Wellcome website and the ETHOX website.