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Marie NicoliniMD PhD

Mountainous Landscape by the Sea

I am a psychiatrist and ethicist who thinks about how ethics and philosophy can improve mental health care. I am currently a senior researcher at KU Leuven University in Belgium, where I obtained a PhD in bioethics and a 3-year research grant from the Research Foundation – Flanders [FWO].  Previously, I completed a postdoctoral fellowship in bioethics at the National Institutes of Health Clinical Center. Starting in Fall 2024, I will be a joint faculty fellow at the Harvard Safra Center for Ethics and the Center for Bioethics at Harvard Medical School. 

While practicing psychiatry in Belgium, I experienced the particularly complex ethical challenge of facing patients who request and receive psychiatric euthanasia. I decided to pursue rigorous empirical and philosophical research on this issue, not because I advocate for the practice but because it poses foundational questions for contemporary medicine and, indeed, our humanity. My research has examined actual cases and established concrete evidence for ethical and policy questions the practice raises, including the role of gender, outcome prediction accuracy, and how we define remedies to mental disorders.  

My work has been published in journals like the British Journal of Psychiatry, Psychological Medicine, American Journal of Bioethics, and Journal of Medical Ethics. My research interests lie in questions about autonomy, mental capacity, and harm as they apply to mental health ethics, neuroethics, and research ethics.  I also engage in public writing and have testified as an expert witness to the Canadian Parliament in the context of the country's medical assistance in dying law.

Mountainous Landscape by the Sea
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