Topic Guides
Conscientious Objection
Newbord Blood-spot Screening and Research
Data Sharing in Medical Research
Death Row Organ Donation
Electroconvulsive Therapy and MK-ULTRA

Bioethics Information Guides

Finding information about topics in bioethics can be difficult, and literature searches can return a mass of confusing sources and opinions.  The IUCB has created a series of information guides for topics related to our interests and research projects.

Each guide summarizes the topic, identifies key concepts and categories, and provides descriptions and links to important perspectives and research in the area.

A list of guides with a summary of the issues they cover can be found below, or you can use the menu to the right to navigate directly to each guide.


Conscientious Objection (NEW!) - Healthcare providers have a professional obligation to provide care to patients. However, providers will sometimes find their professional obligation to provide care is at odds with their moral integrity. This topic guide explores the issue of conscientious objection in healthcare.

Newborn Blood-spot Screening and Research (NEW!) - When infants are born it is now standard procedure to collect a small blood sample (called a blood-spot) to screen the child for genes which increase its risk of disease. Instead of being discarded after screening these blood-spots are catalogued in a database and filed, essentially creating a biobank database that could be used for any number of research applications. This topic guide identifies key ethical concerns that these biobanks give rise to and offers academic research that attempts to address these concerns.

Data Sharing in Medical Research - An important topic in the era of research using big data is the challenge of encouraging researchers to share their information.  Despite guidelines and policies requiring researchers to share their data, compliance has been slow, raising ethical and policy issues.  This topic guide features an interview with Eric Meslin, Ph.D., director of the IU Center for Bioethics, and Andrew Vickers, Ph.D., a biostatistician at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center regarding the issue of data sharing in medical research. It also includes academic and popular sources addressing this issue.

Death Row Organ Donation - In 2005 media sources began reporting on Gregory Scott Johnson's request to donate his liver to his sister. Johnson was a death row inmate at the time (he was later executed by the state), and his case sparked considerable controversy. This topic guide examines the issues in his case, as well as providing an overview of media coverage.


Archived Guides

These topic guides are not maintained. Some of the information they contain may be out of date.

Electroconvulsive Therapy and MK-ULTRA - Although electroconculsive therapy is currently used successfully in a clinical setting, the therapy has a controvertial cast. This topic guide features an interview with Eric Meslin, Ph.D and Dr. Stephen Jay regarding the history of electroconvulsive therapy in clinical settings including MK-ULTRA, a program that explored mind-control techniques using LSD and ECT. This topic guide also provides academic resources that address the key concepts discussed.

Essential Medicines - It is estimated that 10 million people in developing countries die annually due to lack of medicines and vaccines that are widely available in developed nations. This topic guide features an interview with Eric Meslin, Ph.D, and Alan Brier, M.D., where they consider the question of whether or not developed nations have an ethical obligation to provide these essential medicines to nations that need them. This topic guide provides academic resources that address the key concepts discussed.

Pandemic Influenza - When planning for the possibility of pandemic influenza certain questions of economics, policy, and ethics arise. Who should get priority for vaccination? How should vaccines be paid for? Should vaccine manufacturers be allowed to profit from vaccines used during pandemics? The scholarly works in this topic guide address these questions and more.

PolyHeme: Artificial Blood and Emergency Medical Research - In 2004 the Office of Human Research Protections began investigating a clinical trial of a blood transfusion substitute by Northfield Laboratories called PolyHeme. The OHRP alleged that the trial had been improperly waiving informed consent requirements for patients that could not provide consent, and requested FDA intervention. This topic guide provides they background of the controversy and a timeline of the debate that took place over the actions of the study investigators.

IU Center for Bioethics | 410 W. 10th St., Suite 3100 | Indianapolis, IN 46202 | Tel: 317-278-4034 | Fax: 317-278-4050