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Giulia Ferretti

Academic Year: 
Year of Study: 
Medical Humanities
Research Center Affiliation: 
European Institute of Oncology (IEO)
Ethical issues in mammography screening programs and Women’s decision making
Thesis Abstract: 

The dissertation deals with the ethics of mammography screening programs and related individual women’s decision-making regarding whether to participate the program. While, on the one hand, mammography screening is proven beneficial in reducing breast cancer mortality at the population level, on the other hand routine screening also entails potential harmful outcomes for individuals such as false positive results and overdiagnosis. Intrinsic difficulties in evaluating the magnitude of benefits and harms of mammography, as well as in the identification of the target population, gave rise to a tremendous scientific, political and social debate. The latest up-to-date Western countries’ guidelines recognize the complexity of assessing the net benefit of routine mammography screening, especially for women aged 40 to 49 who, nevertheless are eligible to participate programs on the basis of their personal evaluation and preferences. This dissertation argues that shared decision-making constitutes the most effective way of respecting women’s autonomy and incorporating their values in the decision-making process. Among different ethical theories, the dissertation claims that care ethics represents the most suitable normative ethical approach to justify and provide a concrete guide to SDM, which can also be applied to the inquiry of older women’s mammography screening as well as to other clinical contexts. Finally, in order to provide physicians with a practical tool for eliciting women’s values and preferences, the major themes of women experiencing breast cancer identified through a critical interpretative literature review are systematically presented and proposed as a basis for an empirical qualitative research on the issue.


Overdiagnosis in breast cancer screening

Research interests:
Ethics, Applied Ethics, Bioethics, Philosophy of Medicine


2014-present: European Institute of Oncology, European School of Molecular Medicine, University of Milan, Italy, PhD student in Foundations and Ethics of the Life Sciences program

 M.A. in Philosophy, University Vita-Salute San Raffaele (Milan, Italy)
Thesis title: “L’invecchiamento e la persona anziana: questioni etiche e sociali” (Aging and the old person: ethical and social issues)

 B.A. in Philosophy, University of Milan (Milan, Italy)
Dissertation title: “I diritti degli animali, uno sguardo bioetico” (Animal rights from a bioethical perspective)

Lab experience

September 2014 – January 2015: Rosella Visintin Lab (Campus IFOM-IEO, Milan, Italy): Chromosome Segregation laboratory using yeast as a model organism. Under the supervision of Clara Visintin: obtaining a new yeast strain carrying the phosphatase Cdc14 under the control of the attenuate ADH promoter to reduce its levels hence activity. Training in basic lab activities such as PCR, DNA purification, DNA extraction, classical yeast mating techniques including tetrad dissection, yeast cell culture, yeast transformation, yeast synchronization experiments, western blot analyses, agarose and acrylamide gel electrophoresis, protein extraction and indirect immunofluorescence.

March – July 2014: Pier Paolo Di Fiore Lab (Campus IFOM-IEO, Milan, Italy): Basic and translational cancer research in the fields of endocytosis, stem cells and functional genomics. Under the supervision of Tamara Tanos and her group: training in basic lab procedures such as PCR, cell cleaning, immunofluorescence, cell culture, ex vivo cancer cell culture.


Ferretti G., (forthcoming) Overdiagnosis. In: Boniolo G. - Sanchini V. (eds), Ethical counseling and medical decision-making in the era of personalized medicine. A guide, Heidelberg: Springer.

Ferretti G., Santini E., Sezione documenti (eds), Bioetica Rivista Interdisciplinare, XXI (2013), n. 1, pp. 158-176.

Ferretti G., Santini E., Sezione documenti (eds), Bioetica Rivista Interdisciplinare, XXI (2013), n. 2-3, pp. 495 – 522.

Ferretti G., Pillola del giorno dopo e obiezione di coscienza, Bioetica Rivista Interdisciplinare, XX (2012), 4, pp. 577-598.


18th April 2015: “La Bioetica per i Giovani: un progetto che guarda al futuro della bioetica italiana”, presentation within the National Confercence “Legge 40: inizio di una nuova riflessione bioetica”, Novi Ligure, Italy.

Teaching experience:

January – March 2015: Teaching Assistant at University of Milan, Interfaculty of Cognitive Science, course of Clinical Ethics.

Working experience:

June 2011 – February 2014: Secretariat at Consulta di Bioetica Onlus.

January 2013 – February 2014: Executive assistant of Bioetica. Rivista Interdisciplinare.

Conferences organization:

Book launch with the author H. T. Hengelardt, Viaggi in Italia, saggi di bioetica, Le Lettere, Firenze 2012. January – February 2012, Torino, Lecce e Napoli.

“Il buon medico non obietta? Prospettive a confronto sull’obiezione di coscienza”, National Conference, June 6th 2013, Camera dei Deputati, Roma.

“L’obiezione di coscienza in sanità: aspetti etici, deontologici e giuridici”, National Conference, June 6th 2012, Firenze.


2015: Fondazione Umberto Veronesi Scholarship

2014: Fondazione Umberto Veronesi Scholarship

Other experiences:

2014, Master Course on Ethical Counselling in Oncology, European Institute of Oncology and European School of Oncology, Milan, Italy.

2008-present: Volunteer for emergency rescue on ambulances in the area of Milano, Italy.

2013 - 2014: Planning and organization of the project “La bioetica per i giovani – Consulta di Bioetica Onlus” winner of the grant “Otto per Mille – Chiesa Valdese 2013”.

2012 - 2013: Planning and organization of the project “La bioetica per i giovani – Consulta di Bioetica Onlus” winner of the grant “Otto per Mille – Chiesa Valdese 2012”.

2009: Welfare worker stage at Ospedale Maggiore Policlinico di Milano in the Emergency, Geriatric, Psychiatric and Internal Medicine divisions.