Degree course: 
Corso di First cycle degree in BIOTECHNOLOGY
Academic year when starting the degree: 
Academic year in which the course will be held: 
Course type: 
Compulsory subjects, characteristic of the class
First Semester
Standard lectures hours: 
Detail of lecture’s hours: 
Lesson (32 hours)

A good general knowledge acquired by reading constantly and reflecting upon media news and fictional/literary texts (high school level).

Final Examination: 

A written multiple choice test (20 questions about the whole course-contents, regarding both ethics and human sciences) is eventually submitted. Both the discipline-tests have to be passed, otherwise the whole examination must be repeated. The test shows the reached level of theoretical knowledge and understanding, of history/ethics-applying skills and of other competences in medical humanities like the communicating and debating ability inside a pluralistic arena. The final evaluation comes from the qualitatively pondered average results discussed by the teaching team.

Voto Finale

The main course-goal is training the students for a sound and coherent ethical and historical reasoning in biomedical contexts of research, practice and work. Skills to be pursued and implemented are: perceiving a moral dilemma; drawing an historical parallel; critically reading cultural-historical episodes and dimensions of biomedicine; justifying personal evaluations in the light of historic frameworks, and of ethical rules, principles and theories; critically reflecting upon issues related to the several specialized areas of biomedicine; composing a quarrel and disagreement inside the staff and into our social pluralistic arena; recognizing the historical and cultural dimensions of scientific and technological institutions and practices; learning a language suitable for understanding, interpreting and commenting (in dialogue) the narrative events of the institutional working life. General objectives include: ethical, humanistic and historical introductive knowledge, capacity of an autonomous moral judgement, ability of (theoretical and applied) understanding, communicating and debating skills in an interdisciplinary setting, learning and self-learning attitude.

Definition of bioethics (history, aims, methods, tools), biological science and research, medical humanities, applied ethics, history of medicine and of bio-technologies. Truth telling. Privacy and confidentiality. Euthanasia and over-treatment. Drug experimentation, independent research, codes of ethics, conflicts of interest, and ethics committees. Informed consent. Abortion and status of embryo. Assisted procreation. Cloning and stem cells. Justice and resources allocation. Organ transplantation. Definition of death and brain death. Islamic and Jewish patients. Communication inside the staff. Ethics, literature and cinema. Vaccines and public health issues. Burn out in biological personnel: ethics and psychiatry, psychoanalysis and psychotherapy. Genetic testing and screening. Biological evidence-based-medicine and ethics in the laboratory. Ethics consultation. Animal rights. Introductory elements of social history of biotechnologies. Instinctive, regular and transmission medicine. The basics of medicine in the classical world. Hippocrates and Galen. Scientific renewal in the Modern Age. New knowledge of anatomy and physiology. Optical magnification. Microbial theory: contagion, epidemic, infectious agents. Antisepsis and asepsis.

Paolo Cattorini, Bioetica.Metodo ed elementi di base per affrontare problemi clinici, Ed. Elsevier, Milano, 4 ed. , 2011; Paolo Cattorini, Bioetica e cinema, Ed. FrancoAngeli, Milano, 2° ed. 2006; P. Cattorini, La libertà del cervello. Neuroscienze, etica e cinema, Bologna, Dehoniane, 2013;T.L. Beauchamp – J.F. Childress, Princìpi di etica biomedica, Firenze, Le Lettere, 1999 (Principles of Biomedical Ethics, Oxford Univ. Press); P. Dalla Torre, a cura di, Cinema contemporaneo e questioni bioetiche, Roma, Studium, 2010; S. Shapshay, Ed., Bioethics at the Movies, Baltimore, The Johns Hopkins Univ. Press, 2009; G.Boniolo-P.Maugeri, Eds., Etica alle frontiere della biomedicina, Milano, Mondadori, 2014; D. Neri, La bioetica in laboratorio, Roma-Bari, Laterza, 2005. For History: B. Zanobio-G. Armocida, Storia della medicina, Milano, Masson, last ed.


By following the introductory exposition by the professor, and by dealing with concrete situational problems, cognitive knowledge, emotional discernment, communicating competence and history/ethics-applying skills are fostered and trained. Theories, principles, ways of reasoning, logical rules, linguistic ambiguities, historical examples of biological research and of technological practice, styles of behavior and moral questions are presented, commented and analyzed in a pluralistic manner. Relevant key words and issues will be debated and interdisciplinary professional dilemmas both in biology and in medicine will be criticized and evaluated. Narrative texts, especially motion pictures, will involve the group in the emotional heart of complex cases, outline the social and historical imaginary, help the expression of individual insights and feelings, prepare a mature staff decision. Vis a vis lessons/lectures are going to deal with some of these topics and to show the proper learning methodology. Individual ways of further studying and investigating in ethics and history are to be taught and tested in the classroom.

Email Address:; Reception Hours: for more information and individual consultation in “Padiglione Antonini”, via Rossi 9, Varese, the student is invited to preliminarily contact the teachers at their email address.