Bioethics team creates online repository of advice on ethical research practices

Standardized ethics consultation templates will enable bioethicists to share best practices in a centralized, privacy-protected repository.

- By Kris Newby

Mildred Cho

A team of bioethicists from across the nation has developed a standardized approach to collecting and sharing advice on conducting ethical human-subject research.

At its core is a template to help bioethicists structure ethics consultations so that resulting knowledge can be shared in a centralized, privacy-protected database. This online resource, which is accessible to contributing members of the Clinical Research Ethics Consultation Collaborative, aims to help them provide better guidance to researchers, educators and regulators in rapidly evolving research areas such as genetics and social-media data collection.

The effort was led by Mildred Cho, PhD, of the Stanford Center for Biomedical Ethics, and Benjamin Wilfond, MD, of the Seattle Children’s Research Institute and University of Washington.

The proposed framework was published in the August issue of Clinical and Translational Science.

“Our bioethics consortium has learned a great deal from the complex ethics consultations that we’ve been providing since 2005,” said Cho, professor of pediatrics and of medicine. “Now we have a strategy for sharing these best practices with others, to provide moral and legal guidance to researchers across the country and to better inform policymakers on evolving ethical gray areas.”

This is one of several initiatives spearheaded by the Clinical Research Ethics Consultation Collaborative, a group of almost 50 bioethicists who provide free or low-cost ethics consultations across the United States. Members share perspectives on novel or complex ethical issues, participate in collaborative consultations, and contribute to cases and commentaries in the American Journal of Bioethics

IThe group’s recently expanded website includes a publicly available collection of challenging ethics case studies in the areas of social science research, clinical trials, genetics, pediatrics, research misconduct and surrogate decision making. The site also includes information on how to participate in educational webinars and collaborative case discussions.

The collaborative is supported by Spectrum, the Stanford Center for Clinical and Translational Research and Education, and other members of the Clinical and Translational Science Award consortium, and is funded by the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences.

To request an ethics consultation at Stanford, visit

To request a consultation through the collaborative, go to

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2023 ISSUE 1

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