Faculty of law blogs / UNIVERSITY OF OXFORD

6 Reasons to Apply for a Research Stay at HeLEX, Oxford

Research stays are an excellent opportunity to take time for one’s own research, exchange findings and explore different academic perspectives. My stay at the Health, Law and Emerging Technologies (HeLEX) Centre was that and much more. In this blog post, I briefly summarise, based on my experience, some reasons why a researcher should consider applying for this excellent research opportunity.


Elisabetta Baisin
Researcher in Law


Time to read

5 Minutes


Between September and November 2023, I was an Academic Visitor of HeLEX and spent most of the University of Oxford’s Michealmas Term. I had an excellent time surrounded by inspiring research and outstanding colleagues. Oxford was certainly kind to me, and now I wish to convince as many people as possible to apply for such an exciting opportunity. Therefore, if you look for additional motivations to apply, look no more. In this short blog post, I have compiled a list of (at least) six reasons for applying for a research stay at the HeLEX, Faculty of Law.

  1. Joining a World-leading Research Centre on Health, Law, and Emerging Technologies

The HeLEX Centre is a centre at the University of Oxford’s Faculty of Law specialised in the field of health law and emerging technologies. The Centre has wide expertise in healthcare law, big data, artificial intelligence, 3D bio-printing, governance of health data in cyberspace, biobanking, stem cells, translational research and genomic medicine. It applies an interdisciplinary approach, particularly regarding legal, ethical and societal perspectives. If you are interested in these topics, this World-leading research centre may be a suitable avenue to share your research findings (its current and past research projects are available here).

  1. Meeting the HeLEX Team

What does make a research team great? I believe excellence, kindness, access to resources, and a collaborative and supportive environment, which I certainly found in HeLEX. Within the Centre, I had the opportunity to be included in their research discussions through their weekly livewires and periodic internal meetings. During these meetings, I could discuss and present the PhD chapter I was working on (Accuracy in the European Health Data Space (EHDS) Regulation). Within one-to-one discussions with the Research Team, I could exchange views on ethical and legal aspects of in silico medicine, health data sharing, AI and healthcare standards. Last but not least, I had the pleasure of being invited to the team’s social activities and outings – including a treasure hunt, a theatre outing, and a poetry evening in Oxford (which, interestingly, had a health law-related side!). 

  1. Presenting Research and Discussing Possible Collaborations

Being an Academic Visitor usually implies going outside one’s own research group's comfort zone and being ready to present and seek feedback in a new environment. During my research stay, I was given the possibility to present my doctoral research at a Networking Event organised by the Oxford Network for Sustainable and Trustworthy AI in Healthcare (OxSTAI) – an Oxford AI network coordinated by Michael Morrison (HeLEX) and Angeliki Kerasidou (OxSTAI). I had the privilege to be invited to the same panel of colleagues I deeply respect, such as Nisha Shah (HeLEX), Jessica Morley (Yale University, formerly Oxford Open Internet Institute), and Keri Grieman (Responsible Technology Institute). I also had the opportunity to gather expressions of interest for a collaborative research paper on the ethical and legal aspects of the use of Generative AI in scientific research. During the visit, I could discuss my interests in AI-based medical devices and medicinal products legislation and exchange research findings with Miranda Mourby (HeLEX), drawing parallels between my funding project In Silico World and the Centre’s past project EUSTANDS4PM.

  1. Learning (Because We Never Stop!)

Staying abroad also implies “having new eyes”, being open to learning new topics, or considering different perspectives. The University of Oxford offered a wide array of lectures and talks daily. I attended seminars about the ethical implications of AI in healthcare, credit-blame asymmetries in the use of Generative AI, Geopolitics of AI, AI Thick Alignment, and epistemic trustworthiness of conversational agents in mental healthcare. The research stay enabled me to interact not only with the HeLEX Centre researchers but also with the broader Oxford research community. Exchanges with colleagues at the Ethox Centre, Ethics in AI Institute, Oxford Martin AI Governance Institute and the Oxford Internet Institute offered me a great opportunity to delve into AI's ethical and societal aspects in healthcare and medicine.

  1. Benefitting the University of Oxford’s Events & Networking Opportunities

Doing research abroad also means getting to know new colleagues, researchers, and students. The University of Oxford has a fascinating way of facilitating informal interactions between academics. I already mentioned lessons and talks, but there are also social activities, such as those organised by the University of Oxford’s Student Societies. There is a vast number of them. I tried to attend as many of those related to AI and health as possible (and I did not have the time to attend them all!) Among all the many exciting events, I keep a remarkable memory of the film screening and debate on “Fire on Blood” by the Oxford Global Health Society, the book commentary on Caroline Criado Perez’s ‘Invisible Women at the Femtech Society and a heated debate on Realpolitik at the St Giles Parish, run by the Oxford International Relations Society event.

  1. Enjoying Leisure and Oxford’s Daily Life

Finally, let us be honest. A research stay is certainly about work, dedication, and networking, but it is also about leisure and discovery. Oxford is a magic historical city. As soon as I stepped in, I was curious about its history and college stories. There are many walking tours available for those arriving in Oxford (there is a variety of choices – but I also recommend those provided by Uncomfortable Oxford, a local social project focusing on Oxford's history, uncovering the unheard voices from its past). Many museums, such as the Ashmolean Museum, are free, with free guided tours. Also, being affiliated as an Academic Visitor gives easier access to many academic places, such as the Bodleian Library, the University colleges, and the Botanical Gardens – which are fantastic places to visit. Oxford’s surroundings are of exceptional beauty, such as the Cotswolds or Blenheim Palace, and it is very well connected to London for sightseeing weekends. The University also has a great offer for those who love sports (I could not resist enrolling in a rowing club!). Finally, the city is not short of historical pubs and bars, where one can taste delicious food and drinks with colleagues.


As the reader may now tell, I am already nostalgic for my stay. If I could press rewind, I would do it without hesitation. The University of Oxford and the HeLEX Centre have been an unforgettable experience, which enriched me professionally and personally. I am genuinely thankful to Prof. Jane Kaye, Imogen Holbrook and the HeLEX Team for having me. My time was even more enjoyable as I could share many parts of my experience with other centres’ visiting researchers – Anna, Jana, Cindy, and Olivia – with whom I had a great time and insightful discussions on healthcare AI.

I hope that, by this time, the reader interested in a future stay at Oxford’s HeLEX Centre is not indecisive any more. I wish good luck with all future applications and, hopefully, research experiences.




About the author

Elisabetta Biasin is a doctoral researcher in law at the KU Leuven Centre for IT & IP Law – imec, a Transatlantic Technology Law Forum Fellow at the University of Stanford and an External Collaborating Expert at the European Medicines Agency. She is pursuing a PhD in Law, with a project on the concept of Accuracy in data and AI law. Elisabetta’s research interests encompass data, AI and cybersecurity in health law. She is currently involved in the In Silico World project (GA. 101016503), whose funding made her research stay possible.