Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues (Bioethics Commission) Associate Director, Michelle Groman, J.D., spoke in Jacksonville, Florida at the twenty-third Annual Meeting of the Association for Practical and Professional Ethics (APPE), which took place Feb. 27 to March 2, 2014. The panel discussion entitled “Teaching and Learning Empirical Bioethics: Resources from the Presidential Bioethics Commission” also included Holly Taylor, Ph.D., M.P.H., of the Johns Hopkins Berman Institute of Bioethics, and Leila Jamal, M.Sc., doctoral candidate in Bioethics and Health Policy at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.
The session, which took place on Saturday, March 1 from 3:30 to 5:00pm, focused on teaching and learning empirical bioethics. Taylor first spoke on the value of empirical bioethics research and education, addressing the need to educate future generations of bioethicists in social science research methods. She also discussed pedagogical approaches to training in the social sciences.
Groman discussed the Bioethics Commission’s Human Subjects Research Landscape Project – Analysis Dataset (dataset), which comprises project-level data about human subjects research supported by federal departments and agencies from 2006 to 2010, and was developed as part of the Bioethics Commission’s December 2011 report, Moral Science: Protecting Participants in Human Subjects Research. The dataset and subsequent report were developed in response to a charge from President Obama “to determine if Federal regulations and international standards adequately guard the health and well-being of participants in the scientific studies supported by the Federal Government.”
During the session, Jamal spoke about her experience working with the Bioethics Commission’s dataset as part of her graduate work in public health. She explained all stages of her research project and presented her findings. She highlighted questions about federally supported human subjects research that the dataset could shed light on, such as how the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention prioritizes its limited resources. She also reflected on the value of engaging in empirical research methods as a graduate student.
Finally, the panelists engaged the audience in a discussion on methods of teaching and learning empirical bioethics as well as using the Bioethics Commission’s dataset as a tool in these approaches. According to Groman, “after the panel presentations, many audience members raised interesting questions about federally supported human subjects research that the Landscape Project dataset could be used to address.”
Also as part of the APPE Annual Meeting’s Bioethics Program Track, Bioethics Commission staff members Misti Anderson, M.S., M.A., Karen Meagher, Ph.D., and Nicolle Strand, J.D., M. Bioethics, spoke on “Multidisciplinary Implementation of Bioethics Commission Education Modules.”