Keele alumna founds the first bioethics and medical humanism centre in the Arab Region

Having graduated from Keele in 2014 with a degree in medical ethics, Dr Thalia Arawi has gone on to lead the way in this field in her home country of Lebanon and around the world and is now a member of the World Health Organisation’s Covid-19 Ethics Working Group.

I did a BA in sociology at the American University of Beirut and then wanted to move on to medicine. After auditing a philosophy course, I did my Masters in political and moral philosophy. After my masters, I still had this love for medicine and philosophy, so went to the Medical College of Wisconsin before completing my bioethics degree at Keele, which helped me join my two passions.

Keele opened my eyes to new things. The exchange of culture at Keele was very enriching and I loved the beautiful campus and surroundings. We had an amazing intellect in our professors. I managed to eventually leave with a network of colleagues and friends, and I take pride in the University.

The team at Keele taught us to share and disseminate the information we had and most importantly to never stop learning. There is always something new to learn and no one is truly an expert. We are all in a continuous learning process.

After leaving Keele, I founded the Salim El-Hoss Bioethics and Professionalism Programme (SHBPP) at the American University of Beirut Faculty of Medicine and Medical Centre. The SHBPP is the first and only regional bioethics and professionalism programme in the Arab region, where I live. The programme is one of its kind and I faced a lot of challenges at the beginning, but now there is a strong belief that bioethics and medical ethics are part of the medical profession and can’t be without them. When I founded the programme, our mission was to be a regional programme, but we have since moved to other universities in Lebanon and all over the world and are now celebrating our 10-year anniversary.

I am a member of the World Health Organisation (WHO) Covid-19 Ethics Working Group, where we address ethical issues related to Covid-19 such as allocation of resources, triaging, vaccines and give recommendations to governments. My previous advisor at Keele is also a member of this group and I continue to learn from him. I am proud of the work Keele is doing on Covid-19 and I’m proud of being a Keelite. 

I am also a board member of the International Association of Bioethics, the only Arab board member so far. Something I learnt from Keele is that collegiality is very important. Before my work, no one had published in bioethics in my part of the world, except in Islamic bioethics. Now, we have new medical students and researchers attending the programme every year, and the changes in perceptions are becoming clear.

My advice to Keele students is to learn as much as you can and at the same time, live as fully as you can. Enjoy the beautiful campus and student life and try to work with as many cultures and colleagues as you can, because this is the treasure we all take with us. Keele is my second home.