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Markkula Center for Applied Ethics


The Markkula Center for Applied Ethics explores ethical issues in biology.

What is Bioethics?

by Margaret McLean, senior scholar of the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics

Bioethics involves a reflective, careful examination of issues that arise in biology and medicine, such as end-of-life decision making, DIY biology, biohacking, genetic testing, and the new possibilities of gene editing. It spans a large range of activities that may occur in garages or in laboratories.

Ethics in Healthcare Blog: Perspectives from Healthcare Ethics Interns.
A young ballerina posed on floor with body curled into fetal position. Image by Rudy and Peter Skitterians from Pixabay.

Competitive dance is celebrated for fostering a strong work ethic, teamwork, dedication, and self confidence, but not all outcomes are positive. Deep-rooted traditions and a lack of standard codes contribute to ethical concerns that leave young competitive dancers at risk of lasting harmful outcomes.

Human embryonic stem cells cropped (Images: Nissim Benvenisty)derivative work: Vojtech.dostal, CC BY 2.5 <>, via Wikimedia Commons

When considering human embryonic Stem Cells, it is essential to foster robust dialogue, ethical frameworks, and responsible regulation to ensure that the future of hESCs is guided by both scientific progress and ethical reflection. By doing so, we can unlock the full potential of hESCs while upholding the values and principles that define our society.

A person wearing a hoodie is sitting outdoors against a graffiti filled concrete wall and is holding their head with fisted hands. One hand holds a hypodermic needle.

Overwhelmingly we see income, education, race, and neighborhood poverty levels exerting influence on the rates of drug addiction and overdose.

A woman assists an elderly woman walking in a hospital corridor.

A gap needs to be filled in end-of-life care with a unified broad advanced directive for Alzheimer's patients that continue to maintain autonomy.

2023 Health Care Ethics Symposium

Symposium held Monday, June 5, 2023 with presentations by the 2022-23 Health Care Ethics Interns from the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics at Santa Clara University. 

Access Symposium Recording on YouTube

Student Programs

Looking for an internship? Apply to be a Health Care Ethics Intern, or continue exceptional work as the Honzel Fellow.

Browse Opportunities

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Commentary on Bioethics
A woman receiving a vaccine shot from a nurse

Vaccination and mask mandates will push us all to be our better selves—to protect ourselves and others from the health, economic, and social consequences of unchecked pandemic.

Two features of AI/ML in clinical decision making raise important ethical and legal questions about how to assign responsibility for medical decisions.

The debate over whether health care is a right or a privilege comes down to how much burden society is willing to accept in order to provide health care to those who lack it. There may be a compromise.

Catholic bishops in the United States are split about the morality of using a COVID-19 vaccine.

Bioethics Materials
magazines and newspapers laying on a table

Browse curated bioethics pieces on subjects such as end-of-life care, clinical ethics, pandemics, and culturally competent care.

file folders being examined through a magnifying glass overlaid with the word

Dive deep into real-life examples of vulnerable patient populations, organ transplantation, and other topics in bioethics.

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Hear what our staff and fellows are saying about neurotechnology, current events, and more.

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Explore the in-depth guides our staff have organized to model Catholic health care policies, MRSA risk assessment ethics, and beyond.

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Health Disparities and COVID - 19

Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, the African American community and other marginalized groups have been disproportionately impacted by the negative effects of the pandemic in a number of ways. View 2020-21 Hackworth Fellow Amanda Liddell's project on the subject below.

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Media Commentary

Kirk Hanson, Ethics Center senior fellow, quoted by Wall Street Journal.

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Dorothée Caminiti, director, bioethics, quoted by Labiotech.

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Dorothee Caminiti, director of bioethics, quoted by LabioTech.

Culturally Competent Care

Many patients from non-majority ethnicities and/or cultures frequently experience misunderstanding, mistreatment, or marginalization in clinical health care settings. See our compiled resources for health care that is sensitive to the differing values and needs of cultural groups within our diverse society.

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End-of-Life Care with Alzheimer’s Disease

What ethical issues arise when terminal neurological diseases, such as Alzheimer's prevent individuals from making medical decisions? This material explores answers to such questions and ethical considerations for end-of-life care with Alzheimer's Disease.

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