National Institutes of Health Clinical Center


Ethics of Clinical Research

Multinational Research and Capacity Building

Multinational research is essential to understanding and ultimately controlling diseases of global importance, but raises complex ethical issues. Much multinational research is sponsored by developed-world entities (both public and private) and conducted in developing countries. The context of multinational research conducted in low- and middle-income countries involves background disparities in health, health resources, and power. As a result, ethical concerns about exploitation, distributive justice, the researcher-participant relationship, and obligations to communities are especially salient in multinational research.

The Department focuses on both capacity-building and research in multi-national research ethics.

We have several initiatives designed to build capacity in low- and middle-income countries, including:

The Department's research initiatives aim to better understand the ethical complexities of multinational research, covering various specific topics in the ethics of research and situating this research within a larger examination of issues of exploitation and globalization. Addressing the ethical issues in multinational research will also help to promote and facilitate research in diseases that are responsible for a major portion of the global burden of disease. Beginning in the fall of 2001, the Department focused a substantial portion of its research on conceptual and empirical issues related to the ethics of multinational clinical research. Many of these projects are collaborations with researchers from developing countries, including many NIAID supported researchers. Since that time over 70 research papers have been published in peer reviewed journals including Science, The Lancet, JAMA, PLoS Medicine, American Journal of Public Health, and the leading bioethics journals. Between 2007 and 2012 we published on the following topics:

Full Description (circa 2010) PDF Icon (131 KB)

Recently, faculty members have contributed to a special issue assessing the Fogarty International Research Ethics Education and Curriculum Development Program.

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