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The Center interprets “bioethics” as a broad domain of questions about ethical issues in the life sciences and health care, rather than a research discipline.

Project Examples

Beyond the Medical: The ELSI of Polygenic Scores for Social Traits

Posted 2 months ago

UNC Center for Bioethics core faculty member Jean Cadigan, Ph.D., along with a multidisciplinary team of researchers from across the country, was recently awarded an R01 grant from the National Human Genome Research Institute at NIH entitled, Beyond the Medical: The ELSI of Polygenic Scores for Social Traits.

PREPARE (PRomoting Equity for Pregnant Adolescents in REsearch)

Posted 11 months ago

Annie Lyerly and Kristen Sullivan have been awarded an R01 from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease (NIAID) to develop empirically informed guidance for conducting ethically responsible HIV/co-infections research with pregnant adolescents.  Pregnant adolescents face synergistic challenges in the context of HIV – heightened risk of maternal infection, vertical transmission, and maternal and … Continued

Mara Buchbinder

Study to Examine Physicians’ Pandemic Stress (STEPPS)

Posted 12 months ago

Mara Buchbinder has launched the Study to Examine Physicians’ Pandemic Stress (STEPPS) with funding from the Greenwall Foundation and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. The COVID-19 pandemic has intensified ongoing stress, overwork, and disillusionment among the healthcare workforce. Healthcare professionals responding to the pandemic are experiencing crises of moral integrity and personal … Continued

New Collaboration between UNC and Stellenbosch University, South Africa

Posted 1 year ago

The Research for Ethical Data Science in Southern Africa (REDSSA) project has the overall aims of producing new knowledge regarding the ethical, legal and social implications (ELSI) of conducting data science research to develop evidence-based, context specific guidance for the conduct and governance of data science initiatives such as DS-I Africa, and to strengthen the … Continued

Ethical Dimensions of Peanut Allergy Immunotherapy Research

Posted 1 year ago

With funding from the National Institute of Allergy & Infectious Diseases (NIAID), Dr. Jill Fisher is conducting a research study on pediatric clinical trials for food allergies, focusing primarily on peanut allergy. Using ethnographic research methods, the project investigates the on-the-ground ethical challenges that emerge in these clinical trials. In particular, the project explores how … Continued

Incidental Enhancements: A Neglected Governance Challenge for Human Genome Editing Research

Posted 2 years ago

The increasing pace and international diffusion of developments in human genome editing research have prompted ongoing efforts to develop responsible governance for such research. One point of broad agreement across these efforts is that human genome editing research should prioritize medical applications over attempts to enhance human traits because of the moral concerns the latter … Continued

Healthy Volunteers as Model Organisms

Posted 5 years ago

Comparative Research Ethics and Policy for Phase I Trials Principal Investigators: Jill A. Fisher and Rebecca L. Walker This project addresses the need for a novel evidence-based approach to the protection of Phase I healthy volunteers. Phase I clinical trials test the safety of investigational drugs that eventually may be used in affected patients. These trials … Continued

Ethics of HIV-Related Research Involving Adolescents in Kenya

Posted 5 years ago

Despite the high social value of adolescent HIV prevention research in sub-Saharan Africa, investigators are reluctant to involve adolescents in studies with HIV testing and disclosure of results because of ethical concerns about the risks of their participation. This study examines four inter-related ethical issues essential to adolescent HIV research: the effects of disclosure of … Continued

Acute Infection: Lived Experiences and Ethical Challenges in HIV Research

Posted 6 years ago

A better understanding of acute HIV infection is essential to public health, impacting both HIV transmission and potential advances in HIV cure clinical research. Acute HIV infection refers to the earliest stages of HIV infection, the short window of time right after a person becomes infected when they are most infectious. Individuals diagnosed and treated … Continued

Re-Engaging Ethics: Ethical Issues in Engaged Research

Posted 6 years ago

Project Description Re-Engaging Ethics is a project that is funded by the Greenwall Foundation. The purpose of this project is to create and disseminate recommendations for the review and conduct of community-engaged research, by engaging a diverse set of stakeholders in dialogue about the unique ethical concerns that arise in this emerging scientific approach to … Continued

Strengthening Bioethics Capacity and Justice in Health

Posted 6 years ago

Francophone African countries are among the most resource-constrained in the world. Citizens in these regions commonly struggle with a wide variety of health problems related to poverty, political conflict and social upheaval. Those involved in local efforts to improve health, in clinical medicine, biomedical research or public health initiatives, often find themselves in difficult situations … Continued

Vermont Study on Aid in Dying

Posted 6 years ago

Vermont SAID The Vermont Study of Aid-in-Dying (Vermont SAID) investigates the implementation and cultural impact of Vermont’s “Patient Choice and Control at End of Life” Act (Act 39), enacted in May 2013. Due to the recent enactment of Act 39, and Vermont’s small size and the geographic proximity of key institutions, Vermont offers an unparalleled setting for … Continued

Second Wave Initiative

Posted 6 years ago

  Each year, hundreds of thousands of pregnant women in the US face significant medical illness during their pregnancies, and many more do so worldwide. Diabetes and hypertension complicate 40,000+ pregnancies; psychiatric illness complicates an estimated 500,000; cancer and autoimmune diseases are not uncommon. Yet we have surprisingly little data about how to safely and … Continued

Virtue Ethics and Animal Research

Posted 6 years ago

Principal Investigator:  Rebecca L. Walker 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, … Continued


Posted 6 years ago

Social and Ethical Aspects of Research on Curing HIV A Working Group Co-Principle Investigators: Stuart Rennie Joseph Tucker One of the defining qualities of living with HIV has been that it is incurable, and this tenet has powerfully formed and disrupted individual, organizational, and institutional identities. But recent medical advances have contested this basic fact, … Continued


Posted 6 years ago

Principle Investigator: Jill Fisher This project investigates healthy volunteers’ patterns of participation in Phase I clinical trials, with particular attention to the differences among minority groups. The majority of healthy volunteers in clinical trials are serial participants, meaning that they enroll repeatedly in studies, so the research has a longitudinal design to understand volunteers’ patterns … Continued

Advanced Research Ethics Training in South Africa

Posted 6 years ago

ARESA Co-Principal Investigators: Keymanthri Moodley (University of Stellenbosch, South Africa) Stuart Rennie (UNC) 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 inSouthern Africa. The Advancing Research Ethics training in Southern … Continued

Anticipating Personalized Genomic Medicine Impact and Implications

Posted 6 years ago

Co-Principal Investigators Eric Juengst (UNC) Jennifer Fishman (McGill University) Richard Settersten (Oregon State University) “Personalized Genomic Medicine” (PGM) has become a banner which unites a very wide array of scientific, clinical, and commercial initiatives, from medical sequencing and pharmacogenomics research to medical school curricula, public health interventions, nutritional regimes, and direct-to-consumer “recreational” genome scanning. Across … Continued