Exploring Bioethics
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Main Getting Started Teacher's Guide About NIH and the Department of Bioethics About EDC
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National Institutes of Health website Department of Bioethics website


National Institutes of Health
Department of Bioethics

Exploring Bioethics

Main    Getting Started    Teacher's Guide    About NIH & the Department of Bioethics    About EDC

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About NIH & the Department of Bioethics NIH building

About NIH

About the National Institutes of Health

Founded in 1887, NIH is the federal focal point for health research in the United States. Today, NIH is one of the agencies within the Department of Health and Human Services. Its mission is science in pursuit of fundamental knowledge about the nature and behavior of living systems and the application of that knowledge to extend healthy life and reduce the burdens of illness and disability. NIH works toward meeting the mission by providing leadership, direction, and grant support to programs designed to improve the health of the nation through research.

NIH’s education programs contribute to ensuring the continued supply of well-trained basic research and clinical investigators, as well as the myriad professionals in the many allied disciplines who support the research enterprise. These efforts also help educate people about scientific results so that they can make informed decisions about their own—and the public’s—health.

This curriculum supplement is one such education effort. It is a collaboration among the Department of Bioethics at the NIH Clinical Center, the NIH Office of Science Education, and Education Development Center, Inc.

For more about NIH, visit http://www.nih.gov.

About the Department of Bioethics

Since its establishment in 1996, the Department of Bioethics has revitalized bioethics activities at the National Institutes of Health and launched a series of new educational and research initiatives. It has also continued to provide ethics-related services to the NIH Clinical Center.

A two-year fellowship program in bioethics draws promising pre- and postdoctorate scholars to NIH. The department’s conferences and courses focus on a variety of topics, from the ethics of human-subjects research to managed-care issues. Its research efforts are divided into three areas: health policy, human-subjects research, and genetics.

The department participates in conferences on ethical issues sponsored by organizations outside NIH and, in an effort to target the NIH intramural community, provides educational programs for nonbioethicists through several initiatives. Each fall, the Department of Bioethics offers a seven-to-eight-week program, Ethical Regulatory Aspects of Clinical Research, to the NIH community. The course remains popular after nine years and is now required for the Clinical Center Core Curriculum Certificate. In addition, four or five times a year, the department offers Ethics Grand Rounds as part of the Clinical Center Grand Rounds Program. A medical staff member involved in a particular case presents the issues, and then a guest bioethicist comments briefly and presents a framework for thinking about those issues. This is followed by a Q&A discussion.

The main clinical functions of the department are running the Clinical Center Ethics Consultation Service, providing ethicists to participate in various clinical rounds and to review protocols on each of the NIH Institutional Review Boards, and participating on the Clinical Center Ethics Committee. The Ethics Committee meets monthly, and its members also participate in ethics consults. The meetings are a forum for discussing controversial and new topics in human-subjects research, such as new guidelines about research with children.

For more about the Department of Bioethics, visit http://www.bioethics.nih.gov.