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Electives - Humanities and Ethics in Medicine

Research in Biomedical Ethics

Elective Number: 3527 (research)

Course Supervisor: Mary Faith Marshall

Coordinator: Carrie Gumm cg2b@virginia.edu

Prerequisite: Several months in advance of starting a project, students interested in independent research in biomedical ethics must meet with Dr. Marshall to discuss their project concept, objectives, possible mentor(s), resource needs, and timetable. At least one month in advance of beginning the rotation, students must obtain Dr. Marshall's approval of a brief, written project proposal (and, if appropriate, a preliminary bibliography); the approved proposal is also sent to the Electives Director. Students who do their research in another country must complete the university's international requirements (ISO application, on-line tracking, appointment with Student Health, etc.). Students whose research will involve human subjects should discuss this with Dr. Marshall; they will be responsible for securing appropriate institutional review board approval prior to beginning their studies.

Duration: minimum 2 weeks; maximum 8 weeks

Available: Rotations 3, 4, 5, 6, 9, 10

Report to: Dr. Marshall

Time to Report: TBA with Dr. Marshall

Place to Report: TBA with Dr. Marshall

Attendance: Attendance at elective activities is mandatory.

  • Anyone who is ill or has a personal or family emergency must contact Student Affairs and the Attending on Service.
  • Students are allowed to take off up to 1 day per week to interview between November 1 and February 1.
    • Specific days missed must be approved by the Attending on Service.

Number of students per rotation: 2

Course Description: This elective opportunity allows students to pursue focused, in-depth research in biomedical ethics. A student may work to produce an independent research paper on a topic chosen by the student and previously approved by the course supervisor, or may join a research project being conducted by one or more faculty members, as long as the student's contribution to that project will be distinct and measurable. Students choosing to work on a faculty-led research project must obtain the written approval of the research faculty involved and submit a proposal describing the research project and the students' responsibilities and expected contributions. A substantial written product of the student's own authorship must be submitted for course credit. As described under "prerequisites," prior approval by the course supervisor is required for either an independent research project or a collaborative project with other faculty members.

Research projects can be chosen among a broad range of topics, although students will be encouraged to explore a fairly discrete issue in order to successfully produce a scholarly paper. Examples of general topic areas include: research ethics, reproductive rights and responsibilities, end-of-life decision-making, physician aid in hastening death, informed consent, confidentiality, bioterrorism, embryonic research, cloning, medical decision-making for children and others lacking decision-making capacity, health care access, conflict of interest, individual rights and responsibilities in public health crises.