Research Ethics

Research ethics is a “cross cutting” program area of the  Berman Institute, with projects, teaching, and service in research ethics overlapping in all three core areas of clinical ethics, public health ethics, and science ethics.  Johns Hopkins is a research intensive university, and providing training and service in research ethics is a part of the core mission of the Berman Institute, building on more than twenty years of scholarship in this area.


Berman Institute faculty provide required research ethics training at the Schools of Medicine, Nursing, and Public Health.  Berman faculty developed an innovative program of research ethics training for Johns Hopkins Medicine and Nursing faculty, staff, and students combining required introductory material with case discussion and seminar options of the learner’s choosing; Berman faculty teach required research ethics courses for PhD and master’s students in the Bloomberg school and provide countless guest lectures across the East Baltimore and Homewood campuses on research ethics.  The Berman Institute has provided research ethics training for African professionals for 15 years through the Fogarty African Bioethics Training Program; training in research ethics also has been provided in multiple countries including China, Pakistan, India, Botswana, Uganda, and Zambia.


Berman faculty have conducted conceptual and empirical scholarship on informed consent through dozens of federally funded projects; work has documented how informed consent works in multiple settings and also created and tested novel interventions; work has occurred both within the U.S. and globally; Ruth Faden also authored a seminal text on informed consent.  Berman faculty have conducted projects on ancillary care commitments, what is owed to participants after studies are completed; incentives in research, participants’ understanding, and IRB quality; more recent work has focused on ethics and learning health care systems; and ethics and animals research. Considerable work has been conducted on the ethics of stem cell research, per above. All of this work, like so much of Berman Institute work, is directly collaborative with the researchers whose projects are being studied.


Berman Institute faculty as a matter of institutional policy, sit on the IRBs of the Schools of Medicine and Public Health.  In addition, the IRB for the All of Us Research program is chaired by Nancy Kass. Faculty also serve as advisors to the IRBs on matters of institutional policy regarding human research. Berman faculty founded and continues to staff the Research Ethics Consultation service. Berman faculty have been members of, staffed, or testified before President Clinton’s Advisory Committee on Human Radiation Experiments, President Clinton’s National Bioethics Advisory Commission; President Bush’s Council on Bioethics, and President Obama’s Commission for the study of Bioethical Issues. Berman faculty have led or served on committees of the National Academy of medicine related to human and to animal research and led work for the National Cancer Institute creating model national guidance on informed consent; Berman faculty have served on multiple Data Safety and Monitoring Boards for federally and privately funded trials including the recent NIH sponsored ebola trials. Berman faculty also lead institutional, statewide, and international policy efforts on ethics and stem cell research, as above.

Faculty in Research Ethics

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