2018 Annual Meeting
San Diego, CA, USA
November 1-2

What Neuroethics Can Offer the Genetics of Social Behavior

Dr. Ariel Cascio is a Postdoctoral Researcher in the Pragmatic Health Ethics Research Unit (formerly known as the Neuroethics Research Unit) at the Institut de recherches cliniques de Montréal whose research focuses on ethics and neurodevelopmental conditions such as autism, helping to empower people with autism to participate in research. Dr. Cascio’s dissertation research was on autism-specific services for adolescents and adults on the spectrum in Italy.

Dr. Cascio is co-chair of the Program Committee of the INS Annual Meeting in San Diego, and will chair a panel discussion on Genetics, Society and Behavior.

What is your field of research?

I was trained as anthropologist and now I am working at the Pragmatic Health Ethics Research Unit at the Montreal Clinical Research Institute (IRCM) in Canada. I have been there for two years and I am closely involved with the neuroethics community. I am investigating the ethical and social issues associated with conditions such as autism. Working with stakeholders—and that includes people with autism—currently my major project is to develop guidelines on person-oriented research ethics for people with autism.

Image of M. Ariel Cascio

What got you interested in neuroethics?

I had seen a lot of work on neuroethics especially around the brain and identity, and how neuroscience research and language is used in health advocacy. I was interested in how people with autism talk about their everyday lives. The pragmatic neuroethics approach of Dr. Eric Racine appealed to me for its focus on centring the experience of people living with a neurodevelopmental diagnosis.

Why are you involved with the INS?

The INS is a great way to be connected with neuroethics across this continent and the rest of the world, both face-to-face and through the communities and via the INS newsletter. I get to see other people’s research. It’s good to have a supportive and intellectual community.

What will the session cover that you are chairing?

‘Genetics, Behavior, and Society’—some people call it sociogenomics, which means the genetic study of social behaviors that include IQ, educational attainment, and reproductive behaviour. There are large scale studies into sociogenomics which raise a number of questions. Therefore, we have invited speakers from the genetics research field and also from the neuroethics community to reflect on the science and the ethical implications of the results and even how the questions were constructed in the first place.

Describe the challenge for you as co-chair of the Program Committee for the INS Annual Meeting.

Taking on the role of co-chair of the Program Committee is big responsibility. With the Committee we discuss and organise what each panel will talk about, and we have a process for selecting the speakers and abstracts. We also work with partners for the public program. As for the topics, well, we are spoilt for choice! The INS is interdisciplinary so one thing we are trying to do is to have a diverse panel of perspectives to promote the conversation and move it forward. It’s too easy to have one perspective amongst a panel of speakers, so the challenge is to present differing views.

What parts of the annual meeting are you excited about?

I am excited about the poster sessions. We have created more opportunities during the annual meeting for people to view posters and speak to the authors. I am looking forward to seeing the range of research being presented and especially what junior and emerging scholars are doing.

Why should people attend the INS Annual Meeting?

People should attend for the chance to engage in cross-disciplinary conversations. In San Diego, they will be able to meet new and old colleagues. Most importantly, we will all be challenged to think outside the box, beyond what we do day to day.


Online registration available through October 25.