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Academic Programs

In the past 20 years, the number of academic centers offering training programs in bioethics has grown dramatically. Here are some of the most established programs, many of which have faculty working on ethical issues related to genetics. Collectively, the programs offer a variety of degrees that involve the study of philosophy, law, medicine, and the social sciences, demonstrating the interdisciplinary nature of the field.

Baylor College of Medicine Center for Medical Ethics and Health Policy

Baylor offers a Ph.D. in philosophy in conjunction with Rice University (both are in Texas). The philosophy degree has two tracks, either an emphasis in bioethics or extensive training in bioethics with clinical rotations in medicine. The Center offers bioethics courses for undergraduate medical students. The faculty includes Baruch Brody, who wrote The Ethics of Biomedical Research: An International Perspective. Richard Sharp, another faculty member, studies ethical issues in genetic testing and genetic research, including the testing of individuals who do not show signs of disease.

Georgetown University Center for Clinical Bioethics

Founded in 1991, the Center is the main ethics resource for Georgetown University Medical Center in Washington, D.C., and works with the other ethics centers on campus, including the Kennedy Institute of Ethics. Students can pursue an M.D.-Ph.D. program in bioethics or a Master of Arts in Liberal Studies. The Ph.D. is offered through Georgetown’s philosophy department. There are also courses for medical and nursing students and continuing education in bioethics for health care providers. The faculty is focused mainly on ethics in clinical practice. Edmund Pellegrino, the founder of the program, studies the history and philosophy of medicine and professional ethics, in addition to the physician-patient relationship.

MacLean Center for Clinical Medical Ethics, University of Chicago

This program is focused on clinical ethics and training physicians through a one-year fellowship. The Center serves a resource for the hospital, the medical school and the university, doing ethics consultations, coordinating ethics committees, training medical students, and promoting scholarly work in clinical medical ethics. Faculty includes Mary Mahowald, a philosopher who works on feminist bioethics and genetics among other issues, and Lori Andrews, who is known for her commentaries on cloning, reproductive biology, and commercialization of human tissue.

Monash University Centre for Human Bioethics (Australia)

Monash offers a variety of degrees in bioethics aimed at Ph.D. candidates, health-care professionals who need additional training in ethics, and students with a general interest in the field. Degrees offered are Ph.D., Master of Bioethics, Graduate Diploma in Bioethics, Faculty Certificate. Monash also offers an intensive, week-long bioethics course for a limited group each year. Some degrees are available through distance learning.

Tuskegee University National Center for Bioethics

The Center is dedicated to exploring ethical issues in the medical treatment of African Americans and other underserved populations, and their participation in biomedical research. The Center conducts research and does community outreach activities. Established in 1999, it was created partially in response to President Clinton’s apology to African American men who were research subjects in a study of untreated syphilis from 1932 to 1972.

University of Minnesota Center for Bioethics

The Center’s mission is to advance and disseminate knowledge about ethical issues in health care and the life sciences. It does research, offers educational programs, and has outreach activities. The Center is headed by Jeffrey Kahn, perhaps best known for his commentaries for CNN, whose academic specialties include health policy and medicine. Other faculty members include Carl Elliott, who wrote Better Than Well: American Medicine Meets the American Dream, and Susan Wolf, who writes about end-of-life issues.

University of Pennsylvania Center for Bioethics

The University of Pennsylvania offers a Master of Bioethics as an interdisciplinary degree awarded by the Department of Medical Ethics in the School of Medicine . Faculty includes Arthur Caplan, a leading bioethicist who has chaired national and international advisory boards, including the Advisory Committee to the United Nations on Human Cloning in 2002. Glenn McGee, also on the faculty, works on ethical, legal, economic, and social issues in biotechnology, including reproductive genetics and stem cell research.

University of Wisconsin Department of Medical History and Bioethics

Graduate students from other departments can specialize in bioethics while earning their degrees in philosophy, law, population health sciences, or biotechnology studies. The Department also offers Masters and Ph.D. degrees in the history of medicine in cooperation with the Department of the History of Science. The faculty includes R. Alta Charo, who researchers ethical and legal issues in reproduction, genetics, and biotechnology. Also on the faculty is Pilar N. Ossorio, who studies ethical issues in genetics and race theory, among other topics.

For more bioethics centers and programs in the United States, visit The American Society for Bioethics and Humanities.

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