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Lessons from Frankenstein 200 years on: brain organoids, chimaeras and other ‘monsters’
  1. Julian Koplin1,2,
  2. John Massie3
  1. 1Melbourne Law School, University of Melbourne, Carlton, Victoria, Australia
  2. 2Biomedical Ethics Research Group, Murdoch Children's Research Institute, Parkville, Victoria, Australia
  3. 3Department of Respiratory Medicine, The Royal Children's Hospital Melbourne, Parkville, Victoria, Australia
  1. Correspondence to Dr Julian Koplin, University of Melbourne Law School, Carlton, VC 3053, Australia; julian.koplin{at}


Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein has captured the public imagination ever since it was first published over 200 years ago. While the narrative reflected 19th-century anxieties about the emerging scientific revolution, it also suggested some clear moral lessons that remain relevant today. In a sense, Frankenstein was a work of bioethics written a century and a half before the discipline came to exist. This paper revisits the lessons of Frankenstein regarding the creation and manipulation of life in the light of recent developments in stem cell and neurobiological research. It argues that these lessons are becoming more relevant than ever.

  • neuroethics
  • moral status
  • embryos and fetuses
  • chimaeras
  • animal experimentation

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  • Contributors JK and JM jointly conceived the project and wrote the paper. Both authors read and approved the final manuscript.

  • Funding JK, through his involvement with the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute, received funding through from the Victorian State Government through the operational infrastructure support program.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent for publication Not required.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Data availability statement There are no data in this work

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