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NIEHS Expands Bioethics Program

February 2010

Bioethicist David Resnik, J.D., Ph.D.
As a service to employees at NIEHS, Resnik, above, has presented and sponsored regular seminars on timely issues, such as "Disability and Social Justice," "Responsibility for Health: Personal, Social, and Environmental,"( and "Cutting Edge Consent."(
(Photo courtesy of Steve McCaw)

As part of the NIEHS commitment to building a top-notch ethics office, resources and services on bioethics are now available to all NIEHS scientists, staff, fellows, and trainees. Bioethics deals with the moral questions and controversies that inevitably arise as scientists explore new advances in biology and medicine.

NIEHS/NTP Director Linda Birnbaum, Ph.D., decided to expand the existing Bioethics Program beyond its original position within the division of intramural research.. The Bioethics Program is now part of the NIEHS Office of Ethics, which serves the entire institute under its recently hired Deputy Ethics Counselor, Bruce Androphy, J.D. (see related story(

In consultation with Androphy, Bioethicist David Resnik, J.D., Ph.D., (see text box) will implement the bioethics component of the NIEHS Ethics Program. Resnik has published seven books and more than 150 articles on ethical, social, legal, and philosophy issues in science, medicine, and technology. Resnik, who came to the NIEHS in 2004, is also chair of the NIEHS Institutional Review Board (IRB), which oversees research involving human subjects.

The Bioethics Program serves three important functions at NIEHS:

Serving scientists, fellows, trainees and staff with confidential consultation and advice on ethical issues that arise in the conduct of research - Past issues have included protecting human subjects in research, authorship and publication, animal care and treatment, collaborations with other institutions, intellectual property, and reporting research misconduct.

Providing education and training pertaining to bioethics - This includes annual training in responsible conduct of research (required for all NIEHS staff and trainees with substantial involvement in research), and seminars and workshops on ethical issues in environmental health research (see text box).

Supporting intramural research on bioethics issues - Resnik has collaborated on research with NIEHS scientists and colleagues from other institutions. He has also sponsored ten interns and guest researchers.

Contact Bioethicist David Resnik by email( or phone: (919) 541-5658. Additional information about the Bioethics Program is available at: and

Highlights of Past Bioethics Training at NIEHS

Topics addressed in the annual training in responsible conduct of research range from data fabrication and falsification, plagiarism, authorship, and data management to collaboration, mentoring, and dual-use research. Past bioethics seminars and workshops addressed such topics as confidentiality, protections for research with human subjects, human embryonic stem cell research, research involving transgenic animals, conflicts of interest in research, social determinants of health, responsibility for health, and social justice and health.

About NIEHS Bioethicist David Resnik

Resnik, who came to the NIEHS in 2004, is also chair of the NIEHS Institutional Review Board (IRB), which oversees research involving human subjects. He has a Ph.D. and M.A. in philosophy from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and a J.D. from Concord University. Before coming to the NIEHS, Resnik was a professor of medical humanities at East Carolina University School of Medicine (1998-2004) and an associate professor of philosophy at the University of Wyoming.

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