Research Ethics

Ethical Dilemmas in Scientific Research and Professional Integrity

Research Ethics Project: Case Studies and Opinions

Atlanta Clinical & Translational Science Alliance

Clinical and Translational Science Award Section on Ethics in Research and Patient Advocacy 

In fall 2007, Emory University, Georgia Tech, and Morehouse School of Medicine were notified by the NIH that they had competed successfully for a Clinical and Translational Science Award. The Section on Ethics in Research and Patient Advocacy (SERPA) of that award is headed by Dr. John Banja from the Ethics Center. SERPA members include Roberta Berry, JD, PhD (Georgia Tech); Martha Elks, MD (Morehouse School of Medicine); Gillian Hue, PhD; Robin Miller, MD; Rebecca Pentz, PhD; and Karen Trotochaud, MNS. These individuals periodically deliberate over ethical issues or problems that are forwarded to them, not only by the IRBs or their various subcommittees, but by researchers developing protocols or researchers who have a project under way but are encountering an ethical issue. Dilemmas are also contributed by graduate students and post-doctorate students. A consensus recommendation is developed for each case SERPA contemplates. SERPA then uploads these cases to the SERPA website (which is presently under construction). SERPA anonymizes and alters the original cases so as to retain only their essential (or presenting) problem or concern and strips the original case of any identifying elements that might violate privacy and confidentiality constraints. The originating case will therefore “suggest” the case that SERPA ultimately analyzes and makes electronically available to research end-users.

SERPA’s commentaries will be accompanied by literature citations and will be uploaded to SERPA’s website, such that they can be accessed globally. Comments also will be solicited on the website so that the case study analyses are constantly improved.  As the years proceed and as we anticipate hundreds of these cases being uploaded, SERPA’s website will evolve a user-friendly taxonomy, such that individuals visiting the website will be able to use key words to access SERPA’s materials on ethical problems in conducting research.  

Each semester the Center for Ethics collaborates with Emory's basic science research community in offering a course on the responsible conduct of scientific research.


John Banja

Medical Ethicist