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Institute of Biomedical Ethics and History of Medicine (IBME)

Giovanni Spitale

Giovanni Spitale, PhD

  • Postdoc

Giovanni Spitale has a background in philosophy and holds a PhD in medical sciences. His PhD dissertation tackled the complex ethical dilemmas brought to the fore by the COVID-19 pandemic.

In terms of approach, he has a strong inclination for empirical ethics and citizen science/participatory research; thematically, his research interests revolve around public health ethics, ethics of risk and crisis communication, and quality improvement in healthcare. In terms of methods, he likes to dip in multiple bowls, combining natural language processing, computational linguistics, qualitative research, statistics, and philosophical analysis into mixed methods approaches. AI, something with which Giovanni is playing a lot, can fit both in the ‘themes’ and in the ‘methods’ box.

He is currently coordinating different projects aimed at empowering public discourse on ethics; notably, ‘The Outbreak’, a participated graphic novel, and ‘Boosting public discourse’, a strategy to improve public moral reasoning. Both projects are funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation. Additionally, he is a rapporteur for WHO's development of ethical frameworks for social listening and infodemic management.

He has published his research on journals like Science Advances, NEJM Catalyst, the American Journal of Bioethics, and JMIR. His work has garnered media attention, featured in outlets like The Times, The Verge, Wired, El Pais, MIT Technology Review, Süddeutsche Zeitung, Der Standard, SwissInfo.

His current favourite free-time side project is Ethics500, a semantic network map that shows what ethics is about and where it is going.

He has been a TEDx Speaker

Research interests

Empirical ethics, public health ethics, information and data ethics, natural language processing, AI, quality improvement in healthcare, organ transplantation, end-of-life, relational autonomy and shared decision making.

Ongoing projects

ZORA Publication List

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Scientific Coordinator of Academia Engelberg 2019

Active memberships in scientific societies

  • Digital Society Initiative, UZH;
  • Citizen Science Centre Zurich