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Advancing bioethics as collaborative craft in an interdependent world

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Upcoming Lectures & Series

Ongoing Projects

PHASES – Pregnancy and HIV/AIDS: Seeking Equitable Study

This project aims to develop immediate, ethically acceptable strategies to conducting research on HIV treatment and prevention during pregnancy. PHASES will focus on three specific areas of HIV research in urgent need of an evidence base applicable to pregnant women.
Objectives:

  • Identify scientific priorities for research addressing pregnancy and HIV prevention, treatment, and management
  • Characterize the perceived barriers to including pregnant women and women who may become pregnant in HIV-related research
  • Explore potential novel study designs that will minimize ethical and legal concerns of HIV research with pregnant women and women who may become pregnant
  • Develop a conceptual ethical framework for HIV research in pregnancy that is responsive to the priority areas and current barriers

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Virtue Ethics and Animal Research

The aim of this project is to develop a virtue ethical approach to biomedical animal research science. A virtue ethical approach to animal research has not yet been developed but the promise of this framework in addressing ethical issues arising within the practice of animal research is significant. In addition, philosophers writing on ethical issues in animal research rarely engage with animal researchers or inform their work by considering the practices of animal research as a science, but for any investigation of the moral and intellectual virtues of science, such engagement is crucial.

  • A virtue ethical approach to animal research is well suited to address ethical issues internal to the practices of animal research
  • Collaboration with animal researchers to understand, frame, and address the ethical issues internal to biomedical animal research science

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Second Wave Initiative

The Second Wave Initiative, launched in 2009, is a collaborative academic effort to advocate for, and help find, ethically and scientifically responsible solutions for increasing our knowledge base for the treatment of pregnant women who face medical illness. In April of 2009, scholars from Georgetown, Johns Hopkins, and Duke held a two-day workshop to make progress in this challenging area. Supported by a Reflective Engagement grant from Georgetown, the outcome of the workshop identified barriers, articulated the costs of ignorance, and proposed consensus proposals that can immediately begin to make a difference in pregnant women’s health. Second Wave advocates have also worked over the summer with Members of Congress and their staffs to raise awareness of the issue. Those efforts resulted in inclusion of language in the House Committee Report accompanying the Fiscal 2010 Appropriations for the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services and Education.

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Advanced Research Ethics Training in South Africa

A collaboration between C:B Core Faculty member Stuart Rennie and colleagues at Stellenbosch University in South Africa has been awarded a grant from the Fogarty International Center of NIH to support research ethics education in Southern Africa. The Advancing Research Ethics training in Southern Africa (ARESA) program will promote responsible research in southern Africa by offering a postgraduate Diploma/Masters level educational program to health care and other professionals in research ethics and by developing a national network for Research Ethics Committee (REC) members. The Bioethics Unit at the University of Stellenbosch, South Africa and the UNC Center for Bioethics will strengthen and expand local and regional African capacity by developing a research ethics curriculum incorporating a broad range of ethical issues across the health research spectrum, including ethics of qualitative research, mental health research, genetic research with indigenous populations, and pediatric research.

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Healthy VOICES

This project investigates healthy volunteers’ patterns of participation in Phase I clinical trials, with particular attention to the differences among minority groups.
The project has four primary aims:

  • Assess how participants’ perceptions of the risks and benefits of Phase I participation change over time
  • Examine how participants make decisions regarding their participation in clinical trials – including continuing serial participation – and assess the consistency of their choices over time
  • Document how participants’ self-reported behaviors (a) affect the validity of clinical trials and (b) increase and/or mitigate harm that could come from serial participation, including behaviors that have health benefits
  • Compare participants’ perceptions, decisions, and behaviors across racial and ethnic groups

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searcHIV

The goal of this working group is to investigate these complexities and uncertainties, drawing on the input and expertise of a diverse group of global HIV stakeholders. Throughout our project, we aim to:

  • develop a theoretical framework about HIV cure research and early implementation using historical, conceptual and ethical data;
  • determine HIV cure stakeholder perspectives on cure research and early implementation;
  • develop an online forum to promote stakeholder engagement focusing on the social and ethical implications of HIV cure research.

Our three research sites—located in Cape Town, South Africa; Chapel Hill, USA; and Guangzhou, China—give us an opportunity for powerful cross-cultural comparisons, which will help us us identify intersecting themes about unintended implications of HIV cure. This work will provide a strong foundation for subsequent HIV cure research and early implementation around the world.

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Membership Recruitment in Hospital Ethics Committees

This exploratory study will gather information about recruitment, appointment, and training of members for hospital ethics committees (HECs). Past studies have examined HECs, but have focused on the roles of the committees and the broad make-up of membership. Thus, our study will fill an important knowledge gap in trends of membership recruitment and appointment. We will collect survey results from chairs of HECs at hospitals across the country to better understand how ethics committees comprise their memberships.

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Approaches to Ethics Teaching in Medical Education

The Hospital Ethics Committee and Center for Bioethics are conducting a study of ethics education in order to develop ways to improve medical ethics education at UNC. As a medical trainee at UNC, we value your perspective and hope you might complete our anonymous survey. The survey questions ask about your background and experiences with ethics education, your experiences with ethical issues in your clinical practice, and your familiarity with ethics services at the UNC Hospitals. It takes about 10 minutes to complete. You can access the survey via the 3rd and 4th year medical student listservs, the GME listservs for residents and fellows, or the GME Sharepoint site. «Or request a link from the study team here» There will be another brief survey near the end of this academic year. In other parts of the study, the research team will review the ethical issues that arise in our ongoing education series and in our consultation requests.

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Anticipating Personalized Genomic Medicine Impact and Implications

In this study, researchers are examining the ways in which five sets of key interpreters understand PGM as a biomedical goal, in order to anticipate the ethical and social challenges they could provoke:

  • Individual scientists and labs who invoke the goal in NIH grant applications;
  • The institutional sponsors and public policy proponents of the concept, including patient advocacy groups;
  • PGM’s funding, regulatory, and editorial gatekeepers, medical educators and clinicians already working under this rubric, and the “early adopters” of PGM services amongst consumers and patients.

There has been a good bit of discussion of the challenges involved in attempting to roll out PGM within the social context of our health care system. This study is aimed at exploring the challenges that could flow from the intrinsic axiological commitments of PGM itself, i.e. the values that drive and shape the enterprise.

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