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Centre for Professional Ethics

The Centre of Professional Ethics’ projects and activities are designed to maximise benefit for society. We work collaboratively with a wide range of stakeholders to ensure lasting impact and the sustainability of our work.

For example, through the TRUST project, we led the development of the Global Code of Conduct for Research in Resource-Poor Settings, which aims to prevent 'ethics dumping', i.e. the export of research, which would be prohibited or severely restricted in a high-income country, to a low-or-middle-income country.

The code is now a mandatory reference document for recipients of EU funding and its importance was described in a NATURE article.

Overview

The Centre for Professional Ethics is an internationally renowned research institution. Established in 1993, it is one of the oldest ethics research centres in the world and has gained a reputation for excellence in various areas of ethics, especially global justice and human rights and medicine. Since Professor of Moral Philosophy, Doris Schroeder, became Director of the Centre in 2004, the majority of projects and activities have dealt with questions of global research ethics, benefit sharing, and access to medicines. Of key importance for the Centre is that projects have an impact in the real world and are of practical benefit.

In the last ten years, the Centre for Professional Ethics has co‐ordinated large‐scale, international projects on benefit sharing; community consent & indigenous populations; ethics dumping in international collaborative research; ethics in science policy; access to essential drugs; performance‐based pharmaceutical rewards as a supplement to the intellectual property rights system; and responsible research and innovation.

Research Ethics

Prof. Schroeder was interviewed by NATURE Masterclasses on ‘ethics dumping’, which you can watch below.

Since 2003, we have worked with the San people of South Africa, most recently in supporting the development of their own Code of Research Ethics. This is believed to be the first code of conduct for research developed by an indigenous group in Africa, according to a NATURE article.

The San have been one of the most researched communities in the world and prior misconduct by researchers and other outsiders have left them feeling exploited. Lack of respect for local traditions and culture; lack of care for local needs; lack of any benefit to the San themselves and lack of transparency in the researchers’ dealings have been commonplace. From now on, all researchers who wish to work with the San must abide by their Code of Research Ethics. A short film about this development can be watched below.

In addition to the impact of our projects, members of the Centre work in high profile environments.

For instance, the Director of the Centre, Professor Doris Schroeder, serves on a variety of expert committees for the European Commission and also advises the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research and the National Research Foundation in South Africa on a regular basis.

Funded by the European Commission, Horizon 2020, Co-ordinator.

The goal of the TRUST Project is to catalyse a global collaborative effort to improve adherence to high ethical standards in research around the world. 

Achieving equity in international research is one of the pressing concerns of the 21st century. Many international groups and organisations are working on governance frameworks and standards to guide research activities after progressive globalization. However, their efforts are disparate and lacking a guiding vision. In an interdisciplinary collaboration between multi-level ethics bodies, policy advisors/makers, civil society organisations, funding organisations, industry and academic scholars from a range of disciplines, this project combines long-standing, highly respected efforts to build international governance structures with new exciting network opportunities in Europe, India, Sub-Saharan Africa, China and Russia.

TRUST will open up new horizons in improving adherence to high ethical standards globally. The project’s strategic output are three sets of tools based on participatory engagement covering all continents:

  1. A global code of conduct for funders.
  2. A fair research contracting on-line tool.
  3. A compliance and ethics follow-up tool, which takes limited resources into account.

TRUST plenary meeting in Nairobi 2016