What is Bioethics?
“A discipline dealing with the ethical implications of biological research and applications especially in medicine” - Merriam-webster dictionary
“The ethics of medical and biological research” - Oxford dictionaries
From the Bioethics Exhibition at the Science Centre Singapore (SCS), a collaboration between BAC, NUS Centre for Biomedical Ethics and SCS:
“Ethics is knowing the difference between what you have a right to do and what is right to do” - Potter Stewart, US Supreme Court Justice
“Bioethics is a universal quest to find ways we can deal with advances that are made in the biosciences, that are consistent with human well-being and what we should value as human beings” - Dr Justine Burley, Former Associate Professor, Department of Philosophy, National University of Singapore
“Good science is characterised not only by intellectual and methodological rigour, but also by having a sound ethical basis” - Professor Lim Pin, Former Chairman, Bioethics Advisory Committee (Singapore)
“As Biomedicine and Biotechnology catch the interests and investments of governments all over the world, the need for ethical scrutiny, policy advice and possibly, new regulatory and governance structures is widely recognised” - Professor Alastair V. Campbell, Inaugural Chen Su Lan Centennial Professor in Medical Ethics and Director of the Centre for Biomedical Ethics, National University of Singapore
Where do the ethical principles that guide biomedical research originate?
Since World War II, and arising mainly from forced research participation committed then and at other periods, there has been attention given to the need to ensure biomedical research is conducted ethically. Biomedical research is fundamental to evidence-based medicine, but the needed information from research has to be obtained by ethical means, especially with respect to the rights of research participants, or ‘subjects’.
There have been a number of international documents and declarations that form the foundations of ethical biomedical research governance as practised in major jurisdictions. Some of the key ones are listed below. The principles expressed in these documents are generally endorsed by the BAC, and have been used to derive BAC’s own set of principles.
a. The Nuremberg Code (1947)
b. The Declaration of Helsinki: Ethical Principles for Research Involving Human Subjects (1964, Revised 2013)
c.The Belmont Report: Ethical Principles and Guidelines for the Protection of Human Subjects of Research - 1979
d.The International Ethical Guidelines for Health-related Research Involving Humans (2016)
e.The UNESCO Universal Declaration on Bioethics and Human Rights (2005)