Dr John Noel Viana

Ph.D. in Society and Culture (Bio/neuroethics); M.Sc. and M.Res. in Neurosciences; B.Sc. in Molecular Biology and Biotechnology
Research fellow at the Australian National Centre for the Public Awareness of Science
ANU College of Science

Areas of expertise

  • Bioethics (Human And Animal) 220101
  • Ethical Use Of New Technology (E.G. Nanotechnology, Biotechnology) 220103
  • Medical Ethics 220106
  • Neurosciences 1109

Research interests

For my postdoc, I am investigating ways to promote  greater diversity, inclusivity, and equity in health research, policy, promotion, and communication. Moreover, I am interested in determining the ethical, legal, regulatory, and societal issues in personalised and population health research involving culturally and linguistically diverse populations. My work involves engagement with laboratories/groups conducting biomedical/health research to investigate the perspectives of researchers on equity and diversity questions, to examine organisational cultures and social infrastructures that impact participant and researcher diversity, and to facilitate reflexive discussions among scientists on how to make their current and future projects more inclusive and culturally sensitive. The first three years of my postdoc was supported by both the Australian National Centre for the Public Awareness of Science at the Australian National University and the Responsible Innovation Future Science Platform of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation. I have also collaborated with researchers at CSIRO's Precision Health Future Science Platform and the Australian Centre for Disease Preparedness and colleagues at the ANU College of Health and Medicine and ANU College of Arts and Social Sciences.

In addition to my passion for equity, diversity, and justice in precision health research, I have a great interest in the societal aspects of neuroscience and biotechnology development. My PhD investigated ethical, legal, and societal issues associated with clinical trials of of invasive neurosurgical procedures for people with Alzheimer's disease. Furthermore, I have worked on other bioethical issues such as media portrayal of novel technologies, application of new neuroimaging modalities, and patient experience and perception of neurotherapeutic interventions. 


I have a Ph.D. in Bioethics (Society and Culture Program) and a Graduate Certificate of Research from the University of Tasmania, with a thesis exploring ethical and societal issues in clinical trials of deep brain stimulation, cell implantation, and gene therapy for people with Alzheimer’s disease. I also have a NEURASMUS Erasmus Mundus master’s degree in Neurosciences from the University of Bordeaux and VU University Amsterdam and a bachelor’s degree in Molecular Biology and Biotechnology from the University of the Philippines Diliman. In addition, I was a visiting bioethicist at the Brocher Foundation and a visiting student in neuroethics at Monash University, University of British Columbia, University of Washington, and Charité - Universitätsmedizin Berlin. I have also completed the 2017 Sherwin B. Nuland Summer Institute in Bioethics at Yale University. While at the University of Tasmania, I have assisted in teaching units in Nursing Ethics, Exploring Science and the Humanities, and Reasoning Skills.


Past student projects

Mindful mindfulness reporting: media portrayals of scientific evidence for meditation mobile apps

Stacey Walker (CPAS Master's student, 2021 to 2022)

This project systematically evaluated whether evidence from academic research is being used to communicate the health effects of two mindfulness apps, Calm and Smiling Mind. A scoping review mapped research findings from academic publications, and a media analysis examined the types of evidence used in news reports indexed in the Weslaw Classic database. Our findings revealed that 98% of media articles did not use evidence from academic research on app-based meditation to support the health claims made. Only 28.5% of articles included advice from a health expert, and 9.5% mentioned potential risks and alternative treatments. These results highlight the need for greater evidence-based reporting on the health effects of mindfulness apps to enable people to make more informed and unbiased decisions for mental health maintenance.

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Updated:  23 September 2023 / Responsible Officer:  Director (Research Services Division) / Page Contact:  Researchers