What is Bioethics?
Bioethics addresses ethical issues in healthcare, medicine, research, biotechnology, and the environment. Contributions to bioethical discussions draw on expertise and methods from the sciences, social sciences, and the humanities. Professionals working in the field of bioethics include philosophers, scientists, healthcare administrators, lawyers, theologians, anthropologists, disability advocates, and social workers. Topic areas that have been the focus of bioethics for a long time are human experimentation, organ donation and transplantation, genetic research, death and dying, and environmental concerns. New developments in science and technology have focused attention on the topics such as assisted reproductive technologies, neuroethics (ethical issues around brain imaging and testing), nanotechnologies and data ethics.
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Kennedy Institute of Ethics: The Development of the Field of Bioethics
A team of scholars from disciplines ranging from philosophy and theology to medicine and demography came together at Georgetown University to help found the field of bioethics. Established in 1971, the Kennedy Institute of Ethics is a center for practically engaged ethics at Georgetown and is one of the oldest academic ethics centers in the world. (See: Founders of Bioethics Scholarly Publications Archive)
The institute is a leader in ethics education and innovation and is home to the Bioethics Research Library, the world’s largest collection of bioethics research materials. The Kennedy Institute of Ethics Journal, an interdisciplinary quarterly journal, is now in its third decade of publication and has recently expanded to include normative aspects of human health and wellbeing, including public health ethics, environmental justice, and ethical and social issues in science practice. The Institute’s latest innovation is its Ethics Lab, founded in early 2012. Ethics Lab is an innovative research lab combining the creativity of design with the expertise of ethicists to create a hub for creative ethics learning and problem solving.
The journal Theoretical Medicine and Bioethics examines clinical judgment and reasoning, medical concepts such as health and disease, the philosophical basis of medical science, and the philosophical ethics of health care and biomedical research. The current editor of the journal is Daniel P. Sulmasy Director to the Kennedy Institute of Ethics.
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