Bioethics Blogs

Rethinking the Belmont Report? Yes!

Some bioethicists link the beginnings of our field to the Nazi Medical experiments and the Nuremberg Trial (Annas). Whether this is the beginning of bioethics is debatable, but without a doubt, research ethics has been a central topic in the field. In fact, the very first federal bioethics commission laid out the principles of research ethics in the Belmont Report. Later, the President’s Commission for the Study of Ethical Problems in Medicine and Biomedical and Behavioral Research recommended to the President and Congress that a uniform framework and set of regulations should govern human subjects research.  This effort reached fruition under The Federal Policy for the Protection of Human Subjects or the “Common Rule” that was issued in 1991.  Since then, there have been no major changes to the regulations – until now.  After a five-year process and thousands of comments, the new “final rule” was released on January 19th, 2017.  The July 2017 issue of the American Journal of Bioethics addresses these changes.  In addition to our usual open peer commentaries, we are posting a number of blog posts written in response to the AJOB target article.


by Emily Caldes, MA, CIP and Jennifer B McCormick, Ph.D., MPP

As noted by Friesen, Kearns, Redman and Caplan in their review of the Belmont Report, the Belmont Commission tackled the difficult task of distinguishing research from practice. The report defines research activities as those intended to develop or contribute to generalizable knowledge, and it defines practice as activities intended to enhance the well-being of particular individuals or groups of individuals.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.