Focus On Neuroethics

Focus On Neuroethics

Light-based rendering of a human brain with a neural device implant. Credit: Andrew Janson, University of Utah, 2019.

NINDS Program Description

The neuroethics program mission is to work with the NINDS, NIH, and NIH stakeholders to identify and navigate ethical challenges and implications of neuroscience research programs and discoveries, and to facilitate neuroscience progress. Neuroethics is a field that studies the ethical, legal, and societal implications of neuroscience. Advances in our understanding of the brain and ability to monitor and modulate brain function can raise unresolved ethical questions, such as those related to personal identity, consciousness, and autonomy. For example, deep brain stimulation treatment may alleviate symptoms of Parkinson’s disease, but how do patients balance this benefit with potential changes to their mood or behavior? How can scientists incorporate patients’ values and perspectives into their research?

Neuroethicists can work with neuroscientists to identify and address ethical questions that arise in neuroscience research. As such, neuroethics can empower neuroscience research and help inform how studies are designed, conducted, interpreted, and applied. NINDS participates in several trans-agency programs that support partnerships between neuroethicists and neuroscientists. For more details, please see related funding opportunities. The neuroethics program also offers consultation on neuroethics questions for NINDS employees and provides resources on this page for anyone involved or interested in neuroethics, including clinicians, research participants, patients, and the public. To learn more view the program fact sheet (PDF - 468KB).

Learn About NIH Neuroethics and Bioethics Research Funding
If you are an ethicist interested in NIH funding, the NIH Office of Science Policy provides information on bioethics and ethical, legal, and social implications (ELSI) funding opportunities. NINDS participates in the following ELSI funding programs:

The NIH BRAIN Initiative currently supports neuroethics training for postdoctoral researchers through two programs:

Connect with Neuroethicists
Neuroethicists or bioethicists can help clarify, mitigate, and navigate potential ethical concerns that might arise during research. If you are a researcher interested in connecting with neuroethicists, the International Neuroethics Society and other neuroethics organizations provide lists of experts.

Request a Bioethics Consultation
Many academic medical centers and hospitals have ethics consultation services, which can help clinical and research teams with specific bioethics questions. If your institution does not have one, researchers can contact the Clinical Research Ethics Consultation Collaborative. Anyone who works at the NIH or participates in research at the NIH Clinical Center can request a consult with the NIH Department of Bioethics Consultation Service.

Proceedings & Outcomes

Publications and Reports