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

A Look at How M.D. Anderson Cancer Center Uses Bioethics Educational Materials

The Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues (Bioethics Commission) loves hearing from educators who use our pedagogical materials in traditional and nontraditional settings. As a part of its initiative to promote and enhance bioethics education, the Bioethics Commission has produced a library of educational materials to accompany its reports. The Commission aims to contribute to the tools that educators and students can draw upon, with the overall goal of enhancing bioethics education. Happily, many attendees at the recent American Society of Bioethics and Humanities (ASBH) 2014 Annual Meeting reported incorporating these materials into their university lectures.

Colleen M. Gallagher, Ph.D., M.A., L.S.W., F.A.C.H.E., visited our booth at ASBH to tell us that she has used Bioethics Commission educational materials as a part of her curricula. Gallagher, the Chief and Executive Director of the Section of Integrated Ethics in Cancer Care and an Associate Professor, teaches clinical and research interns, fellows and trainees completing certificates in ethics at the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, TX. She has used modules such as the Study Guide to “Ethically Impossible” STD Research in Guatemala from 1946 to 1948 and Vulnerable Populations in Safeguarding Children: Pediatric Medical Countermeasure Research for courses on research ethics and clinical trials.

“The Study Guide to ‘Ethically Impossible’ helps to guide conversations with our interns on the importance of balancing public health concerns with the needs of the individual,” said Gallagher. She had also used the format from the Study Guide to “Ethically Impossible” to discuss other cases of ethical misconduct in research.

Gallagher said she finds the division of Bioethics Commission educational material into specific topic areas, such as informed consent and vulnerable population, to be especially useful when discussing public health and social policy issues with her classes. “Ethics is very philosophical, and there’s often a lack of consistent methodologies available. The materials created by the Bioethics Commission break down ethics into topic areas with specific case studies and examples,” explained Gallagher. She then had students apply the issues raised in Commission reports and educational modules to population health concerns where they live. Many of her students are professionals who are continuing their educations online. Gallagher, noting the need for a variety of materials and modalities when teaching online courses, said she appreciates the range of resources produced by the Bioethics Commission. She also appreciates the ease with which her students can access the materials for free online.

All Bioethics Commission educational materials are available for free use at If you have used Commission materials in your lectures, classes, or seminars and would like to provide feedback, please email

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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.