The blog of the 2009 – 2017 Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues

Anticipating and Communicating Through Education

Since its inception, the Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues (Bioethics Commission) has repeatedly recommended that ethics education be widely available at the undergraduate, graduate, and professional levels. In Anticipate and Communicate: Ethical Management of Incidental and Secondary Findings in the Clinical, Research, and Direct-to-Consumer Contexts, the Bioethics Commission made the broad recommendation that public and private entities create educational materials for all stakeholders describing the ethical, practical, and legal questions raised by incidental and secondary findings.

The Bioethics Commission highlighted entities in each context it believed to be well-placed to provide additional education materials. In the clinical context, private organizations such as the American Association of Medical Colleges and the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education could provide materials to guide clinicians on managing incidental and secondary findings. In the research context, the Public Responsibility in Medicine and Research’s (PRIM&R) institutional review board (IRB) education and certification programs could provide training to IRB members on these ethically challenging topics. In the direct-to-consumer (DTC) context, governmental agencies, like the U.S. Federal Trade Commission and the Food and Drug Administration, should continue to provide guidance on their websites about the types of findings DTC services could reveal.

The Bioethics Commission is also well-placed to provide ethics education guidance. Beyond the recommendations set forth in its reports, the Bioethics Commission continues to reinforce its commitment to ethics education itself. Through online modules, context-specific study guides, and source data, the Bioethics Commission strives to supplement existing curricula in traditional and non-traditional settings, including the classroom, workplace, or IRB training sessions. The staff continues to develop additional educational content.

Additionally, the Hastings Center and the Bioethics Commission are co-sponsoring an issue of the Hastings Center Report to address current themes in bioethics education, including the state of bioethical education, methods for bioethics instruction, and more. For more information on the submission requirements please visit this website.

For more information on all of the Bioethics Commission’s educational efforts, please watch the video Promoting and Providing Materials for Bioethics Education. The Bioethics Commission also held a webinar on September 19, 2013 to introduce and review the pedagogical materials.  The webinar, Advancing Bioethics Education, can be viewed here.

All Bioethics Commission pedagogical materials are available at no cost at

The Bioethics Commission encourages feedback on the materials at

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This is a space for the members and staff of the 2009 -2017 Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues to communicate with the public about the work of the commission and to discuss important issues in bioethics.

As of January 15th, 2017 this blog will no longer be updated but continues to be available as an archive of the work of the 2009-2017 Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues

Learn more about the 2009 - 2017 Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues.