Since december 2014 I'm a Ramón y Cajal Researcher at the Philosophy I Department of the University of Granada, Spain.
After obtaining my Philosophy Degree in the University of Salamanca, Spain, I obtained a scholarship from La Caixa Foundation to do a Masters Degree in Biomedical Ethics at the University Paris Descartes. During that year (2002-2003) I surveyed French health professionals working in intensive care units (ICUs) about how they followed patients’ preferences at the end of life. One year later, a scholarship by the International Institute of Research on Ethics and Biomedicine allowed me to conduct a similar kind of research in one hospital associated to the Case Western Reserve University Department of Bioethics in Cleveland, US. The results of this comparative research were published in the journal Clinical Ethics.
In 2004, I authored a book on the bioethical aspects related to end-of-life decision making, and began my PhD, with two supervisors (Pr. Hervé from Paris-5 University, and Pr. Gómez-Heras from the University of Salamanca). Since my doctoral research, I have been mentored by the American bioethicist Stuart Youngner.
In 2006 I became Assistant Professor (Profesor Ayudante) at the University of Salamanca, and co-edited the book Recherche biomédicale et populations vulnérables, which was translated into Spanish in 2008 (Ética y experimentación con seres humanos).
In December 2008 I simultaneously obtained a PhD in Moral Philosophy at the Philosophy Department of the University of Salamanca, and a PhD in Medical Ethics at the School of Medicine of the Université Paris-Descartes. My doctoral research included a broad international survey on the concept of death employed by 600 professionals in France, the US and Spain (INCONFUSE study). I was the PI of this international collaborative project, which received funding from the French Agence de la Biomédicine.
In 2009, I was awarded the José Castillejo International Post-doctoral Fellowship to spend one year of research at the University of Toronto Joint Centre for Bioethics, where I had the chance to have clinical experience in the field of organ transplantation as a bioethics fellow at the Toronto General Hospital, supervised by bioethicist Linda Wright. At the end of this year I co-authored a paper in The Lancet which suggested that some of the success seen in Spain –the leader country in the world in organ donation rates- may be associated to the implementation of some ethically debatable strategies to increase organ donation rates.
As a result of my dissertation, two ground articles were accepted in bioethics journals. In one of them my colleagues and I proposed an unconventional way of justifying organ procurement. (AJOB, 2011). In the other article, we demonstrate that Spanish, French and American health professionals involved in death diagnoses, have doubts about whether current organ donors are really dead. (Medicine, Healthcare and Philosophy, 2011).
Between January and June 2011, I worked as the project manager of the WP5 of REMEDiE (Regenerative Medicine in Europe), coordinated by Andrew Webster and funded by the 7th Framework Programme of the EU.
In the summer of 2011, I spent a two month stay at the Hastings Center (New York), where I wrote with Iván Ortega a Comment recently accepted by The Lancet. In this contribution, we warn the medical community about some seemingly unnoticed challenges of recent uncontrolled donation after circulatory death (DCD) protocols. We suggest that such protocols may compromise some patients’ chances of recovery and advocate for more transparency in current policies of organ procurement.
If I had to characterize my research contributions I would emphasize its international dimension and its interdisciplinarity. What I find most fascinating about bioethics is the possibility to navigate between theory and practice, between purely conceptual problems and some of the most concrete, down to earth, aspects of life. It is my aspiration to reach both philosophical and medical audiences. The enormous chance I have to closely work with and to be supervised by colleagues from the health sciences and humanities is making this possible.