Senior Research Associate in Surgical Innovation and Bioethics
Giles Birchley is an experienced children's intensive care nurse working in the University of Bristol's multidisciplinary Centre for Ethics in Medicine. He was awarded his doctorate in 2015, for a doctoral project that combined social science and philosophical methods to investigate how decisions are/ought to be made in the best interests of critically ill infants - with a focus on those where there is a question of whether treatment or non-treatment is best. This involved interviewing key decision makers in practice (parents, doctors, nurses and clinical ethics committee members) about their values and experiences, and comparing their responses to established theory and his own developing moral judgements.
Giles' post-doctoral work includes examining the concept of 'reduced agency' as a factor in end of life decision making for patients in extreme old age, end stage dementia or with traumatic brain injury; researching the way that bioethical concepts are used in cases using the best interests standard to make decisions about patients in minimally conscious states; and qualitative research examining IT researchers' reflections on ethical issues in data sharing and storage. He is currently working on a project both conceptualising, and examining the ethical and regulatory implications of, surgical innovation.
Giles is also developing several post-doctoral research ideas. Particular focuses are on exploring concepts pertaining, and methods used, to involve vulnerable groups in decisions, the scope of the so-called zone of privacy surrounding families and judging and replicating best practice between different types of ethics committees.
When he's not working, Giles spends his time parenting, dog walking, cooking and doing some (usually futile) vegetable gardening.