Bioethics is the study of moral issues in the life sciences, including clinical medicine and biomedical research. A major domain in the field, research ethics, studies a range of issues that relate to the ethical conduct of biomedical research. From a historical perspective, most work in the field focused on issues central to the ethical conduct of clinical research, such as refining the informed consent process; assuring that benefits outweigh risks; and ensuring the just distribution of the burdens and benefits of research across the population. More recently, matters such as the ethical implications of obtaining and using genetic and genomic information, creating biospecimen research repositories, mapping the human brain, and conducting comparative effectiveness research have gained prominence.

Examples of the kind of questions that the consultation service might assist with include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Am I confident that the anticipated benefits of my research will outweigh its risks?
  • How do I know if the consent process that I plan to use for my research is the most appropriate one, given the special characteristics of my research population?
  • Should I do anything about the fact that my research is controversial in the eyes of many in the public?
  • How should authorship be assigned on manuscripts?

The service is staffed by faculty affiliated with the UC Davis Bioethics Program. It may also draw upon clinical and other investigators with significant research ethics expertise.