Tsutomu Sawai

Tsutomu Sawai

Associate Investigator

Associate Professor, Graduate School of Humanities and Social Sciences, Hiroshima University
Research Field
Philosophical Bioethics, Empirical Bioethics

Research Overview

Ethics of New and Emerging Technologies

I, belonging to a world-class institute of natural sciences, am promoting international and interdisciplinary collaborations on the intersection of science and bioethics/philosophy. My current research interests lie primarily in issues concerning new and emerging technologies in practical ethics, particularly topics pertaining to synthetic embryology, in vitro gametogenesis and organogenesis, human-animal chimera research, and genome/epigenome editing as well as in methodology called “empirical bioethics” which integrates the “theory” and “practice” as such in drawing a normative conclusion for real-world bioethical issues. For the former, I am conducting a meta-analysis of various ethical debates, and analytical philosophical reflections on these topics. For the latter, I am constructing a novel methodology of empirical bioethics in bioethics research, and applying this methodology to address a pressing issue in practical ethics field in order to generate normative recommendations that are grounded in research practice. My overall objective is to provide ethical frameworks for research and clinical applications. Considering the urgency of recent bioethical issues that are arising on a global scale, my attempt will be significant in advancing the field of bioethics in Japan and internationally, whilst also contributing to solving actual social and ethical problems that are arising in the development of biomedical research.


Tsutomu Sawai is an Assistant Professor at the Bioethics and Philosophy Group of the Institute for the Advanced Study of Human Biology (ASHBi), Kyoto University, and is jointly appointed in the Uehiro Research Division for iPS Cell Ethics, Center for iPS Cell Research and Application (CiRA). He obtained a PhD in Human and Environmental Studies from Kyoto University (2016), where his PhD thesis was on the ethics of human induced pluripotent stem cell research. Prior to this he was awarded a year Oxford-Uehiro-St Cross Visiting Student Scholarship.


Sawai, T.*, Minakawa, T., Pugh, J., Akatsuka, K., Yamashita, J., and Fujita, M. 2020 (accepted). “The moral status of human embryo-like structures: Potentiality matters?” EMBO reports.

Akatsuka, K. Sasaki-Honda, M., and Sawai, T.* 2020 (accepted). “Ethical framework for next-generation genome and epigenome editing.” American Journal of Bioethics 20 (5).

Sawai, T.*, Sakaguchi, H., Thomas, L., Takahashi, J., and Fujita, M. 2019. “The ethics of cerebral organoids: Being conscious of consciousness.” Stem Cell Reports 13 (1): 440-447, DOI: 10.1016/j.stemcr.2019.08.003.

Sawai, T., Hatta, T., and Fujita, M. 2019. “Japan significantly relaxes its human-animal chimeric embryo research regulations.” Cell Stem Cell 24 (4): 513-514, DOI: 10.1016/j.stem.2019.03.015.

Sawai, T.*, Hatta, T., and Fujita, M. 2017. “The Japanese generally accept human-animal chimeric embryo research but are concerned about human cells contributing to brain and gametes.” Stem Cells Translational Medicine, 6 (8): 1749-1750, DOI: 10.1002/sctm.17-0128.

Sawai, T. 2017. Ethics of Human Induced Pluripotent Stem Cell Research [in Japanese]. Kyoto: Kyoto University Press.

Sawai, T.*, Hatta, T., and Fujita, M. 2017. “Public attitudes in Japan towards human-animal chimeric embryo research using human induced pluripotent stem cells.” Regenerative Medicine, 12 (3): 233-247, DOI: 10.2217/rme-2016-0171.

Sawai, T.*, and Fujita, M. 2016. “The Problem of Dual Use in Relation to Decoded Neurofeedback.” AJOB Neuroscience, 7 (4): w4-w5, DOI:10.1080/21507740.2016.1244126.

Fujita, M., Hatta, T., Sawai, T., and Takahashi, J. 2015. “Risk of tumorigenesis and patient hope.” AJOB Neuroscience, 6 (1): 69-70, DOI: 10.1080/21507740.2014.991851.

Sawai, T.* 2014. “The moral value of induced pluripotent stem cells: A Japanese bioethics perspective on human embryo research.” Journal of Medical Ethics, 40: 766-769, DOI:10.1136/medethics-2013-101838.

* corresponding author


CiRA Encouragement Award (2020)
CiRA Outstanding Poster Award (2016)

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