June 24, 2020

Interview MDR PhD student: Anne-Floor de Kanter

Who are you, what is your background and how did you get involved in MDR?

My name is Anne-Floor and I have an academic background in both applied ethics and molecular biology. I am interested in ethical questions that arise in biomedical research and emerging technologies more generally. Looking for a PhD in this field, I got in contact with my current supervisor Prof. Annelien Bredenoord, who offered me a position as an ethicist within the MDR consortium, which I was very happy to accept!

Tell us a little bit more about the research you are planning to do within MDR.

Currently, I am working on a systematic literature review of the ethical implications of tissue engineering for regenerative purposes, to map the existing literature on the topic. Later on, I am planning to look into the ethical questions that might arise in the design phase of new biomaterials. Here I may ask: What is meant with intelligent, life-like materials? What, in other words, is implied by ascribing ‘smartness’ to such a material? And how could choices in biomaterial design (unintendedly) impact the final clinical product?

Who is your biggest example in science and why?

Lately I have been quite interested in the work of Prof. Peter Paul Verbeek, who holds a chair in the Philosophy of Technology at the University of Twente. We live in a highly technological world, where we are surrounded by a vast amount of technologies. Verbeek holds that the way we as humans experience the world, as well as the actions that we perform within it, are essentially formed – or mediated – by the technologies we use. As technologies affect our practices, designing a technology becomes a morally laden act in itself. This is known as the ‘Technology Mediation Approach’. I think this could be a very interesting lens from which to view the design of, say, supramolecular materials and the development of a tissue engineered heart valve.

What do you do in your free time and how can we recognize the typical Anne-Floor?

I love drawing, cycling on my racing bike, taking care of my vertical garden, having philosophical discussions over a good meal and glass of wine. I like to think of myself as creative, and curious into new perspectives and ideas.