The Markkula Center for Applied Ethics offers programs and resources on ethical issues in end-of-life care, vulnerable patient populations, medically ineffective interventions (futility), culturally competent care, biotechnology, pandemics, and other areas of bioethics.
Commentary on Bioethics
The Physician’s Conundrum: Assigning Moral Responsibility for Medical Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning
Two features of AI/ML in clinical decision making raise important ethical and legal questions about how to assign responsibility for medical decisions.
A Right or a Privilege? How to Practically and Ethically Reconcile Two Opposing Views of Health Care
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.
Overview of Bioethics
Perspectives on Ethical Issues in Health Care
The accelerated approval of a new drug intended to combat Alzheimer’s has generated concern regarding the drugs true efficacy, safety and high costs.
The United States, along with other affluent countries, must take immediate actions to ensure the ethical allocation of vaccines to all countries.
These case studies represent interesting situations that a bioengineer, biologist or biochemist may encounter in their professional lives. By thinking about and discussing them, students can cultivate ethical patterns of thought prior to leaving academia, professionals can carefully consider the ethical implications of their work, and the public can consider what is at stake in living on the cutting edge.
What is Bioethics?
By Margaret McLean, associate director 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.
A certain set of issues are raised in all of these contexts. The first one is safety. In genetics, for example, this is the information that makes you you, so it raises safety questions about storage of that data and privacy and just thinking about what ID theft would mean if in fact your genetic code was stolen.
The second set of questions deals with meaning. We all become vulnerable when we're ill, and what we're finding in the hospital context is that more and more people who come into the hospital are unable to make their own decisions. The question that it raises for us is, who decides for patients such as these? If we cannot find a surrogate decision-maker, if they have no advance directive, if they have no family or friends that we can locate, then who makes those decisions between surgery and medicine or about withdrawal of treatment?
One of the main issues that we deal with is around the end of life. We are a death-avoiding, death-defying society, and it comes as a surprise to most of us that in fact we do have to make decisions about the end of life. We need to be able to think clearly and talk about the kinds of interventions we want and don't want, and to be able to create a context in which we die as authentically as we've lived.
This article was adapted from the video What Is Bioethics?