The Queensland Bioethics Centre (QBC) is a collaboration between the Archdiocese of Brisbane and Australian Catholic University, together with other funding partners. The QBC focuses on high-quality research, education, and consultancy in the area of bioethics, with engagement and impact locally, nationally and internationally.

About the QBC

Building on the research networks that the director, Dr David Kirchhoffer, has developed with leading thinkers in bioethics in Australia and overseas, this collaboration provides a platform for truly interdisciplinary research to address the bioethical issues of the day. This in turn informs education, and sound advice to key stakeholders, such as the Archdiocese of Brisbane, the bishops of Queensland, Catholic health and aged care agencies.

The QBC was first established in 1981 by Archbishop Francis Rush, and is one of the oldest such institutions in Australia. Since then, it has had three directors, Dr Regis Mary Dunne RSM AO, Dr Elizabeth Hepburn IBVM, and Dr Ray Campbell, each of whom, along with the ongoing development of a specialised bioethics library, have made their own mark on the centre and its activities.

The Queensland Bioethics Centre was established in 1981 by Archbishop Francis Rush, DD, and directed by Sr Regis Mary Dunne, rsm. “The aim of the Centre was to focus the scientific knowledge, faith, understanding and life experience of the ordinary person.”  The centre was located in a property provided by the Sisters of Mercy within the Mater Misericordiae Public Hospital campus.

QBC-18-Clarence-Street-South-BrisbaneThe centre undertook research into the human, moral and religious implications of the scientific advances of the times. It provided resources addressing bioethical problems and moral issues of the time, both theological and scientific in nature. Topics within these resources include current professional, medical, ethical, moral and social dilemmas, supporting spiritual maturity. The resources were suited to three levels of understanding and knowledge: science for theologians, philosophy for the scientist, and uneasily understood for the non-professionals.

The Centre’s library provided a comprehensive filing system containing recent articles, journals, texts, books and tapes. A number of Church documents, encyclicals and Papal teachings were also available at the centre.

The Centre addressed issues relating to modern technology, specifically medical technology, which would influence many aspects of a person’s life, including their religious, psychological, biological, philosophical and academic perspectives. Parents, school students, tertiary students in medicine, nursing, social work, theology and ethics, as well as politicians, lawyers, teachers, doctors, ministers of various religions and journalists made use of the information service.

Education was an essential component of the work completed by the Centre. Sr Regis Mary provided workshops on diverse topics and issues throughout Queensland, from Cairns to Brisbane. She also held workshops in New Zealand, at the invitation of the New Zealand Sisters of Mercy.

There were two permanent staff, the Director, Sr Regis Mary Dunne RSM AO and administrative assistant and secretary, Mrs Linda Reardon. Mrs Reardon co-ordinated and managed the centre.

staffprofile360x360px0000Sr  Regis Mary Dunne Sr Regis Mary

Sr Regis Mary began her career as a microbiologist and cytogeneticist. She was one of the pioneers of cytogenetics within a laboratory environment. Throughout her career, Sr Regis Mary gained vast experience as an ethicist and geneticist. She retired after fourteen years of distinguished service and scholarship in 1995. In memory of Sr Regis Mary Dunne rsm.

Dr-Elizabeth-Hepburn-IBVMDr Elizabeth Hepburn

Dr Elizabeth Hepburn IBVM took on the role as director of the Centre in 1995. She held qualifications in education and theology. Dr Hepburn had a background in psychology and pharmacology. Her professional interest focused on the ethics of the pharmaceutical industry and biomedical research. Dr Hepburn saw bioethics as a multidisciplinary enterprise. Dr Hepburn retired for medical reasons.

Dr-Elizabeth-Hepburn-IBVMDr Ray Campbell

Dr Ray Campbell, formerly a university lecturer in Sydney, stepped in as the third Director in 2000 after Dr Hepburn retired. He was “a leading advisor for the Church in Queensland on various ethical issues including human embryo stem-cell debates, human cloning, abortion, euthanasia and more recently the pastoral care of transgender students. “ Dr Campbell retired in December 2016 after sixteen years as Director of the Queensland Bioethics Centre.

Each Director has made their own mark on the centre and its activities.


Dr David G. Kirchhoffer Dr David G. Kirchhoffer


Dr David G. Kirchhoffer is the Director of the Queensland Bioethics Centre, a collaboration between the Archdiocese of Brisbane and the Faculty of Theology and Philosophy at ACU. He is also a member of ACU's Institute for Religion and Critical Inquiry.
Dr David Kirchhoffer was born and raised in South Africa. He studied biology, psychology and theology in South Africa before going to Leuven in Belgium to read for a doctorate in theological ethics. Upon completion of his doctorate, he was a post-doctoral researcher at the Centre for Biomedical Ethics and Law at KULeuven.

He then took on a continuing position in theological ethics at ACU before becoming director of QBC in October 2017. In 2015, he was a senior visiting fellow at the Centre for Biomedical Ethics at the National University of Singapore and is a senior research associate of the Department of Philosophy at the University of Johannesburg.

Since 2016, he has been appointed by the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity as a Roman Catholic Commissioner on the Faith and Order Commission of the World Council of Churches, where he forms part of the sub-commission working on moral discernment in the churches.

His research focuses primarily on the relevance of human dignity in contemporary ethics, and its application to bioethical issues. More recently this has developed in the direction of the limitations of respect for autonomy in human research ethics. Significant publications include Human Dignity in Contemporary Ethics (Amherst NY: Teneo, 2013), and a collection co-edited with Bernadette Richards, Beyond Autonomy: limits and alternatives to informed consent in research ethics and law, Cambridge Bioethics and Law (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2019).

Director’s Reports

Director’s Report 2017

Director’s Report 2018

Director’s Report 2019

Director’s Report 2020

Mrs Ann Heath Mrs Ann Heath

Administrative Officer

Mrs Ann Heath studied Primary Education at Catholic College of Education. She taught for over 20 years throughout NSW. In 2009 Mrs Heath relocated to Queensland with her family. She commenced employment with Queensland Bioethics Centre, Ashgrove in 2015 and relocated with the Centre to the ACU Banyo Campus in 2017.

Dr Bridget Pratt

Mater Senior Lecturer in Healthcare Ethics

Bridget is an ethics researcher and the Mater Lecturer/Senior Lecturer in Healthcare Ethics at Queensland Bioethics Centre at Australian Catholic University. She is a KNAW Visiting Professor at the Julius Centre for Global Health at Utrecht University in the Netherlands. Bridget received her PhD in bioethics in 2012 and her Masters in International Health in 2009 from Monash University in Australia. From 2013 to 2015, Bridget was a Hecht-Levi fellow at the Johns Hopkins Berman Institute of Bioethics and a research fellow in the Department of International Health at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. From 2013-2020, she was a senior research fellow in Centre for Health Equity at the School of Population and Global Health at the University of Melbourne. 

Bridget’s research interests include the ethics of global health research, health systems, and urban planning, with a focus on equity and social justice. In her work, she uses a combination of applied philosophy and qualitative methods, reflecting her belief that the most robust ethical guidance is informed by both theory and practice. She has developed ethical guidance on the following topics: research priority-setting, research governance, community engagement, ancillary care, capacity development, post-study benefits, and data sharing.

Dr Chi Wai Lui

Research Associate

Dr Chi Wai Lui is a research associate at the Queensland Bioethics Centre where he coordinates a project on the Ethics of Palliative Care and Voluntary Assisted Dying in Australia. Chi Wai’s background is in sociology and philosophy and he has extensive experience in teaching public health and qualitative research methods at the postgraduate level. His research over the past decade focuses on social determinants of health, use of supplements and complementary and alternative medicine, healthy ageing, and lived experience of living with chronic illness.

Dr Christi Favor

Research Ethics Specialist

CHRISTI D. FAVOR completed her Ph.D. in moral and political philosophy at the University of Arizona. For 12 years, Christi coordinated the moral and political theory strand of the Ethics and Human Rights program at Queensland University of Technology.  Since 2010, Christi has been a regular sessional lecturer in the Philosophy Departments at Australian Catholic University and at the University of Queensland, teaching in Logic and Critical Reasoning, Environmental Ethics, Moral Theory, Political Philosophy, Bioethics and Research Integrity. She also developed a program in environmental ethics for Master’s students in such fields as Conservation Biology, Environmental Management, and Public Health, and has been a workshop presenter in research ethics and in the Critical Thinking Project.  She also has an interest in philosophy for children, and has developed and conducted a number of workshops in this area for children in primary and secondary schools. Her publications include “Beneficence in Research Ethics,” (with C. Cordner and D. Kirchhoffer) in D. Kirchhoffer and B. Richards (eds.), Beyond Autonomy: Limits and Alternatives to Informed Consent in Research Ethics and Law, 2019, “Distributive Justice” survey for the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (co-authored with Julian Lamont) and “Expressive Desert and Deserving Compensation” in C. Favor, G. Gaus and J. Lamont (eds.), Essays on Philosophy, Politics and Economics: Integration and Common Research Projects, 2010. patient relationship, ethics education for health professionals, disability and pain experiences, and various concepts of autonomy. 

Jeyver Rodríguez Jeyver Rodríguez

Doctoral Student

Jeyver Rodríguez studied Philosophy in the Universidad Industrial de Santander, Colombia (2008). Magister in Pedagogía, Universidad Industrial de Santander, Colombia (2015). Ph.D. Student in “Contemporary Humanism” in agreement between LUMSA University, Institute Catholic of Paris, Australian Catholic University and Pontifical Catholic University of Chile. In 2018-19 was Visiting Academic in Queensland Bioethics Centre.

Doctoral Research: Interdependence and Vulnerability. A connection between the Alasdair MacIntyre's Virtue Ethics and the Ecophilosophical tradition of Arne Næss. This project is directed by Dr. Luca Valera, Professor in Faculty of Philosophy and Director Bioethics Centre of Pontifical Catholic University of Chile and Co-directed by Dr. David Kirchhoffer, Director of the Queensland Bioethics Centre in the Faculty of Theology and Philosophy at ACU.

Christopher Parkes

Chris is the Principal of Hillsong College Online and Higher Education. He has been on Hillsong Church staff for 15 years, currently completing his PhD, and is also one a Senior Lecturer, teaching both Vocational and Degree courses. His time is dedicated to lecturing, caring for Hillsong’s students, developing staff, and innovating the optimal online learning environment. His doctoral research at ACU applies Stanley Hauerwas’s theological ethics to develop a systematic methodology to Pentecostal ethics.

Geetanjali Rogers

Geetanjali Rogers studied a double degree BA/BSc at the University of Western Australia with majors in Physics and Pure Mathematics, joint Honours in Ancient Greek and Philosophy (2012). She completed a Grad Dip Ed. at NotreDame (2014) has since been a High School teacher of Mathematics, Philosophy and Religious Studies. Whilst teaching, she completed a Masters in Professional Studies of Theology at ACU (2021).

Her research interests include understanding the nature of personhood, and the various ethical implications of this. She is currently undertaking a PhD entitled “Reimagining the Ethics of Assisted Dying through Compassion” which is being directed by David Kirchhoffer, Director of the Queensland Bioethics Centre in the Faculty of Philosophy and Theology at ACU, and Co-Directed by Michael Champion Director of the ACU node of the ARC Centre for Excellence for the History of Emotions.

Luca Valera

3 – 10 June 2019

Ph.D. In Bioethics and Philosophy, Luca Valera is Associate Professor in Philosophy, Director of the Center for Bioethics (Department of Medicine) and Director of the Applied Ethics Area at Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile (Department of Philosophy).

In 2013 he received his Ph.D. in Bioethics and Philosophy from the Università Campus Bio-Medico di Roma (UCBM), Rome (Italy), with a dissertation on “Human Ecology. The anthropological and ethical features of man/environment relationship.” From 2013 to 2015 he attended as Postdoctoral Research Fellow at FAST (Institute of Philosophy of Scientific and Technological Practice) at UCBM. He has been Visiting Scholar in Philosophy and Applied Ethics at the Department of Philosophy, Universidad de Valladolid, Valladolid (Spain) in 2018 and Visiting Professor in Bioethics, at the Department of Educational Sciences, Università degli Studi di Roma Tre, Rome (Italy).

His main research interests are the field of Bioethics, Environmental Philosophy (with particular concern for Arne Naess’s Ecosophy), Ethics, Philosophical Anthropology, and Philosophy of Technology.

He has published more than 75 peer-reviewed papers and book chapters and 3 books, concerning Bioethics, Human Ecology, Ethics and Arne Naess’s thought. He has attended more than 50 international conferences and workshops (Italy, Spain, Chile, Argentina, Brazil, Switzerland, France, USA).

In 2016 he was awarded by PUC de Chile with the Programa de Inserción Académica and in 2017 by Banco Santander with the Beca Iberoamérica Santander Investigación Universidades 2017–Jóvenes Profesores (Young Professors). He obtained 9 peer-reviewed grants from Conicyt, FONDECYT, Fondo Nacional de Desarrollo Científico y Tecnológico (Chile) and Vicerrectoría de Investigación (Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile), from 2016 to 2019. He is part of the editorial board of different international book series and scientific peer-reviewed journals in the area of philosophy and ecology. He is member of the Chilean Society of Bioethics, of the Italian Society of Moral Philosophy (S.I.F.M.), and of the Italian Association of Philosophy Teachers (A.D.I.F.). 

Anita Ho

9 – 17 November 2018

Anita Ho is Associate Professor in the School of Population and Public Health at the University of British Columbia. She is the Interim Director in Ethics Services at Providence Health Care, and a Section Editor in research ethics for BMC Medical Ethics. 

Between 2014 and 2017, Anita was the Director of Undergraduate Ethics Education at the Centre for Biomedical Ethics at the Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine at the National University of Singapore. 

An international scholar and author of more than 60 publications, Anita’s current research focuses on supportive decision making in diverse healthcare settings, supported by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research. Her broader research areas include ethical dimensions of incorporating innovative technologies in health care, trust and decision making in domestic and international clinical and research medicine, organizational and system ethics in medicine, cross-cultural and global health ethics, health-care access and disparity, professional-patient relationship, ethics education for health professionals, disability and pain experiences, and various concepts of autonomy. 


The Darkside of DNA testing

Dignity and Enhancement

Vaccines, viruses and vulnerabilities: Catholic health care of the human person

Queensland Bioethics Centre on Radio Brisbane.

Should I get my DNA tested? We asked five experts

Leading Brisbane bioethicist discusses what would make a moral economy after COVID-19

Bioethicist unpacks Samaritanus Bonus and idea of ‘remaining’ with the dying

Public reasoning about voluntary assisted dying: What we found when we analysed submissions to the Queensland Parliamentary Inquiry

Coronavirus Australia: What doctors will do when they can’t treat everyone

Finding Human Dignity

What do Australian Catholics think of church teaching on sex and family?

Non invasive prenatal testing: clinical utility and ethical concerns about recent advances

Joseph Thomas, James Harraway & David Gerrard Kirchhoffer Medical Journal of Australia 09 January 2021

Public reasoning about voluntary assisted dying: An analysis of submissions to the Queensland Parliament, Australia

with Chi-Wai Lui

Bioethics 35 (1): 105-116. 2021.

Dignity, Autonomy, and Allocation of Scarce Medical Resources During COVID-19

Journal of Bioethical Inquiry 17 (4): 691-696. 2020.

Beyond Autonomy: Limits and Alternatives to Informed Consent in Research Ethics and Law (edited book)

with Bernadette J. Richards

Cambridge University Press. 2019.

Introduction: The Limits of Respect for Autonomy.

In David G. Kirchhoffer & Bernadette J. Richards (eds.), Beyond Autonomy: Limits and Alternatives to Informed Consent in Research Ethics and Law, . pp. 1-14. 2019.

Dignity, Being and Becoming in Research Ethics

In D. Kirchhoffer & B. Richards (eds.), Beyond Autonomy: Limits and Alternatives to Informed Consent in Research Ethics and Law, . 2019.

Beneficence in Research Ethics

with C. Favor and C. Cordner

In D. Kirchhoffer & B. Richards (eds.), Beyond Autonomy: Limits and Alternatives to Informed Consent in Research Ethics and Law, . 2019.

How Ecology Can Save the Life of Theology: A Philosophical Contribution to the Engagement of Ecology and Theology

In Celia Deane-Drummond & Rebecca Artinian-Kaiser (eds.), Theology and Ecology across the Disciplines: On Care for Our Common Home, . pp. 53-64. 2018.

Human Dignity and Human Enhancement: A Multidimensional Approach

Bioethics 31 (5): 375-383. 2017.

Questioning Human Dignity: The Dimensions of Dignity Model as a Bridge Between Cosmopolitanism and the Particular

In Religion and Culture in Dialogue, Springer Verlag. pp. 167--179. 2016.

The Roman Catholic Church on the Secularization of the Concept of Human Dignity

Louvain Studies 39 (3): 240--260. 2016.

Personhood and human dignity

In Jãnis T. Ozoliņš & Joanne Grainger (eds.), Foundations of Healthcare Ethics: Theory to Practice, . 2015.

Book Review: Be Good and Do Good: Thinking Through Moral Theology. By Bernard V. Brady (review)

Theological Studies 76 (4): 895-895. 2015.

Turtles All The Way Down?: Pressing Questions for Theological Anthropology in the Twenty-First Century

In Lieven Boeve, Yves De Maeseneer & Ellen Van Stiche (eds.), Questioning the Human: Toward a Theological Anthropology for the Twenty-First Century, . 2014.

Preparing for the Synod on the Family

with Natalie Lindner L’Huillier

Intams Review 20 (1): 111--117. 2014.

Being Human: Groundwork for a Theological Anthropology for the Twenty-First Century (edited book)

with Robyn Horner and Patrick McArdle

Mosaic Press. 2013.

Human Dignity in Contemporary Ethics

Teneo Press. 2013.

Between revelation and reason: Human dignity in Karl Barth and Gaudium et Spes

In David Kirchhoffer, Robyn Horner & Patrick McArdle (eds.), Being HumanGroundwork for a Theological Anthropology for the 21st Century, . 2013.

What We Have Learned: Catholic Social Thought and the Movements in Australia

Journal of Catholic Social Thought 10 (2): 401-411. 2013.

Human dignity and consent in research biobanking

with K. Dierickx

South African Journal of Bioethics and Law 5 (2): 74--77. 2012.

Human dignity and the moral status of animals

Southern African Public Law 27 (1): 119--135. 2012.

Bioethics and the Demise of the Concept of Human Dignity

Human Reproduction and Genetic Ethics 17 (2): 141-154. 2011.

New Medical Technologies and the Ethical Challenges for Minors from the Perspective of Human Dignity

with Kris Dierickx

In Jan C. Joerden, Eric Hilgendorf, Natalia Petrillo & Felix Thiele (eds.), Menschenwürde und moderne Medizintechnik, . 2011.

Human dignity and human tissue: a meaningful ethical relationship?

with K. Dierickx

Journal of Medical Ethics 37 (9): 552-556. 2011.

Benedict XVI, Human Dignity, and Absolute Moral Norms

New Blackfriars 91 (1035): 586-608. 2010.

Become what you are: on the value of the concept of human dignity as an ethical criterion in light of contemporary critiques

Bijdragen 70 (1): 45-66. 2009.

Contact Us

Queensland Bioethics Centre Office

1100 Nudgee Road
Banyo Qld, 4014

Postal Address

Queensland Bioethics Centre
Faculty of Theology and Philosophy
PO Box 456
Virginia, QLD 4014


+61 36237574



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