Public Health and Policy


The promise of a healthier public has never seemed more achievable given the scientific and policy tools society has at its disposal are greater than at any time in its history. Yet despite these developments, society still faces staggering public health challenges including preparing for the next threats from pandemic influenza. Ironically, the greater the technological leaps we make, the more profound the ethical challenges we face. How should we balance the rights of individuals with promotion of the public good? How should we protect underserved and marginalized populations?  IUCB faculty work with the IU Fairbanks School of Public Health, the Indiana Department of Health, and international collaborators to address these questions.

Public Health Genomics

Genomics is now being deployed in the service of preventing illness: sequencing the SARS genome; using genomic knowledge to unlock effective diagnostic techniques and treatment; and better targeting public health problems such as diabetes, obesity and cardiovascular disease. Yet concerns remain that a ‘genomic’ focus will lose sight of social and environment factors. Helping to set these priorities is major focus of IUCB research. More


Stem Cells

For more than a decade, science has presented society with issues arising from capacity to develop and use stem cells in research. New types of stem cells, such as induced pluripotent stem cells reduce some of the moral challenges raised by embryonic stem cell research, but ethical and legal issues remain. As stem cell science is popularized, the rise of  ‘stem cell tourism’  and the use of non-validated therapies create ethical and policy dilemmas. More


Science Policy and Governance

Science and health are directly influenced by the policy environment in which research and health care occur. Sometimes the policy issues are more challenging than the ethical issues themselves. Such policy issues include how priorities are set, whether regulations for the protection of human subjects are too protective (stifling research) or too permissive (increasing the risks to people and society). The IUCB helps develop and test governance approaches for issues that arise throughout the lifecycle from “the laboratory to the legislature”. More


Public Health and Personal Choice

In the last few decades, public health has increasingly focused on identifying risk factors for disease and modifying behavior to address such “epidemics” as obesity and smoking. In addition, public health campaigns have increasingly used techniques drawn from the burgeoning field of behavioral economics to influence choices by drawing on irrational aspects of human cognition (“nudges”). These developments in public health raise important theoretical questions about the concepts of health, risk, and disease and about possible threats to free choice and autonomy. More

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