Cookies on this website

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Accept all cookies' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. If you click 'Reject all non-essential cookies' only necessary cookies providing core functionality such as security, network management, and accessibility will be enabled. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

Ruth Horn

BA, MA, MA Res, PhD

Associate Professor in Ethics

  • Research Fellow, Wellcome Centre for Ethics and the Humanities, University of Oxford
  • Deputy Director, Ethics of Medicine, University of Augsburg (GER)

Ruth works on ethical questions raised by medical practices and new technologies at the beginning and end of life in different socio-cultural contexts. Her research is at the intersection between sociology, bioethics and law/social policy. She has developed a comparative ethnographic approach to understand how ethical problems arise and are addressed in clinical settings where ethically sensitive decisions are made. Her approach combines literature review, concept analysis and ethnographic research (interviews, observations, focus group discussions).

She has studied Sociology in Germany (LMU, Munich) and France (EHESS, Paris), and has held research grants from the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), Wellcome Trust, European Commission, the French National Health Care Insurance, and the French National Cancer League. Ruth is an associate member and guest professor at the French research centre SPHERE, CNRS, University Paris Diderot. She is a member of Oxford Tropical Research Ethics Committee, the French CNRS Ethics Committee, and of the scientific advisory board of the German Human Genome-Phenome Archive. She is President of the European Association of Centre of Medical Ethics (EACME). 



Ruth is co-lead (with Marie Gaille, CNRS) of UK-FR GENE (UK-France Genomics and Ethics Network), a network for British and French researchers, policy-makers and practitioners to reflect on the ethical questions arising from the clinical applications of genomic technologies in each national context. If you are interested in our network, please get in touch.

Beginning of Life

Ruth's current research focuses on ethical issues arising from the clinical implementation of genomics in antenatal care. She has done research on the ethics of the prenatal assessment of genomes and exomes as part of the UK-wide PAGE project. Currently, she is leading an ESRC-funded project exploring the ethical questions raised by the introduction of non-invasive prenatal testing (NIPT) into routine antenatal care in England, France and Germany.

End of Life

In her previous research, Ruth has examined ethical questions at the end of life (e.g. assisted dying, continuous deep sedation, advance directives) with a particular focus on the tensions between patient autonomy and physicians' responsibility to protect life.


Ruth is country team leader of the French study 'COVID-19: Comment cela vous affecte-t-il?' which is part of a multinational project on 'Solidarity in times of pandemics', led by Professor Barbara Prainsack at the University of Vienna.