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Department of Molecular Biology

College of Agriculture and Natural Resources


Bioethics in the Molecular Life Sciences and Medicine


New developments in biotechnology and biomedical science create the need to address ethical, legal and policy issues that result as a consequence of scientific advancement. Several agencies and committees in the governmental and private sector have been established to assess specific bioethical issues and to make recommendations. Bioethics Centers have emerged at several universities that are involved in scholarly research and training in bioethics. Students with an interest in bioethics can easily access an extensive array of resources via the web. For example, sites may include information on careers in bioethics, discussions of specific ethical dilemmas that have received extensive public debate, or hypothetical case studies that may be useful for a student preparing for medical school or other professional program.

Some of the projects, committees and courses in ethics at the University of Wyoming are listed below. As an introduction to current areas in bioethics, a list of key areas and resources are also provided for students beginning their exploration of bioethical topics. These listings are by no means comprehensive but are designed to provide a starting point for students interested in bioethics.

Ethics at the University of Wyoming


Although ethical discussions are embedded in many courses taught at UW, some departments offer courses designed to focus specifically on ethical aspects of the discipline:


Several introductory and advanced ethics courses are offered in the Dept. of Philosophy (e.g. “Ethics in Practice,” designed for preprofessional students; “Environmental Ethics,” focused on environmental dilemmas). Also, a Minor in Ethics is offered for students who wish to enhance their appreciation of ethical issues in any discipline. 


The College of Business has two major initiatives: the Business Ethics Education Program and the Bill Daniels Chair of Business Ethics, currently held by Richard McGinity.

The Daniels Fund has established a $3 million endowment for this chair. )

Law, Criminal Justice

Course in ethics in the administration of justice: ethical theory is applied to contemporary issues in law enforcement.


Course in bioethical issues in decision-making in nursing


Seminar course focused on contemporary ethical issues in the practice of pharmacy.

UW Research Office listed course on Research Ethics:

CITI course in the Responsible Conduct of Research; Free public access courses on the web in Biomedical; Social and Behavioral Research; Physical Sciences; and Humanities are available to the research community.

Kaiser Ethics Project

This is a 3-year project that was started in 2006 and funded by the Curt Kaiser Foundation. The project was designed to encourage development of ethics content for new or existing courses at the University of Wyoming.

Ethical Oversight Committees

IRB (Institutional Review Board for Projects Involving Human Subjects)
IACUC (Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee)

Bioethics Areas

Although the field of bioethics includes many diverse topics, some of the current areas of interest are:

  • History:
    • Bioethics in Research and Medicine
  • Research Ethics:
    • Scientific Integrity 
    • Human Subjects; Animal Subjects 
    • Nuremberg Code, Helsinki Declaration, Belmont Report 
  • Genetic Testing:
    • Gene testing in preimplantation diagnosis, prenatal, newborns, children, adults 
    • Forensic genetic testing 
    • Pharmacogenetics in medicine 
    • Genetic Information Non-Discrimination Act (GINA) 
  • Gene Transfer:
    • Human Somatic Gene Therapy 
    • Human Germline Genome Modification 
    • Genome modification for enhancement vs. therapeutic goals 
    • Biotechnology in Agriculture 
  • Biological Materials:
    • Stem cells 
    • Therapeutic Cloning 
    • Reproductive Cloning 
  • Legal and Policy Issues:
    • Human Health Policy 
    • Aging and End-of-Life 
    • Patenting of genes and other biological materials 
    • Genetic Information Non-Discrimination Act (GINA) 
  • Specific Bioethical Issues:
    • Bioethical case studies and tutorials 
    • Careers in Bioethics

Selected Bioethics Resources

Many of these web sites maintain updated links to other bioethics resources.

U.S. Government Sites:
Bioethics for Clinicians (Canadian Medical Association page dedicated to aid physicians in incorporating bioethics into their daily practice.) 
The American Journal of Bioethics: Page incorporates journal access and bioethics news and current issues.
Beauchamp T & Childress J (2001) Principles of Biomedical Ethics, Oxford University Press, Oxford. (Introduction to ethical decision-making.)
Gilbert  SF, Tyler AL, & Zackin EJ. (2005) Bioethics and the New Embryology. W. H. Freeman & Company, Gordonsville, VA. (Ethics of human reproductive technology and stem cells). 
Mappes TA & Degrazie D. (2007) Biomedical Ethics. McGraw-Hill Publishing.
Steinbock B. (2007) The Oxford Handbook of Bioethics. Oxford University Press, Oxford. 
Steinbock B, London, AJ & Arras JD. (2008) Ethical Issues in Modern Medicine: Contemporary Readings in Bioethics.
Other Resources:
International bioethics sites: Bioethical discussions may be quite different in various cultural settings.

Please submit comments/suggestions to Dr. Pamela J Langer, Dept. Molecular Biology, Univ. Wyoming,

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