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Research Ethics Consultation: The Stanford Experience

Emerging biomedical technologies often raise new research ethics questions that have the potential to impact not just patients and families, but society as a whole. At the Stanford Center for Biomedical Ethics, we recognized the importance of a proactive approach to addressing the implications of biomedical research at an early stage. We have therefore established a new ethics consultation service for clinical and basic scientists. Our experiences suggest that demand for such services extends beyond academia to companies and funding institutions. The results of the pilot program also indicate that knowledge of scientific methods and process is important for consultants. Consultations resulted in modifications of study design, research procedures, consent forms, grant applications, publications, and institutional policies. Preliminary evaluations indicate that the researchers value the outcomes of these consultations and especially the delivery of concrete recommendations. Consultations are also useful to bioethicists and institutions as a way to identify areas of ethical concern to researchers.

Key words/concepts: research ethics consultation, Stanford Center for Biomedical Ethics, research oversight

Mildred K. Cho, Sara L. Tobin, Henry T. Greely, Jennifer McCormick, Angie Boyce, and David Magnus, “Research Ethics Consultation: The Stanford Experience,” IRB: Ethics and Human Research 30, no. 6 (2008).