Timeline of bioethics
This is a timeline of bioethics, listing significant events in the development of the field.
|Time period||Development summary|
|<1960s||Discussions of moral issues in medicine already happen in ancient times, with early contributions by Hippocrates and Plato.|
|1960s||Bioethics as a distinct field of academic study is born in the United States, merging from a cluster of scientific and cultural developments in the country during that decade.|
|1970s–1980s||Many bioethics programs and degrees are established at universities in the United States in order to provide students – most notably medical, law, and public policy students – with some expertise in medical ethics to deal with complex cases. Feminist bioethics develops from the early 1970s on and is initially focused on medical ethics; proponents later extend the areas of interest to issues in the fields of animal and environmental ethics.|
|1990s||In the last decade of the 20th century, the contributions of social scientists to bioethical research become particularly important. Work of this type involves surveys of public attitudes to advances in the life sciences, including xenotransplantation and genetic modification.|
|2000s||Ethics consultation begins to emerge as another, more enduring model of ethics and science interaction. The concept of research ethics consultation develops.|
|380 BC||Field development||The Republic of Plato advocates selective human breeding in anticipation of later programs of eugenics.|
|1259 – 1265||Literature||Italian philosopher Thomas Aquinas writes his Summa contra Gentiles, which briefly discusses the permissibility of abortion.||Italy|
|1775 – 1780||Field development||German philosopher Immanuel Kant in his lectures on ethics argues against the sale of human body parts.|
|1927||Literature||German theologian Fritz Jahr publishes article using the German term “Bio-Ethik” (which translates as “Bio-Ethics”) and argues, both for the establishment of a new academic discipline, and for the practice of a new, more civilized, ethical approach to issues concerning human beings and the environment. Jahr would publish similar articles discussing bioethics in 1928, and 1934.||Germany|
|1947||The Nuremberg Code is adopted as a set of research ethics principles for human experimentation. It is set as a result of the Subsequent Nuremberg trials at the end of the Second World War.||Germany|
|1954||Literature||Joseph F. Fletcher publishes Morals and Medicine: The Moral Problems of the Patient’s Right to Know the Truth, Contraception, Artificial Insemination, Sterilization, and Euthanasia.|
|1964||The Declaration of Helsinki is created in order to provide researchers and physicians with ethical guidelines. It is developed for the medical community by the World Medical Association.||Finland|
|1966||Organization||The Schlesinger Institute for Medical-Halachic Research is founded.||Israel|
|1966||Organization||The first medical ethics committees in Europe emerge in the United Kingdom and Sweden.||United Kingdom, Sweden|
|1966||Field development||American anesthesiologist Henry K. Beecher publishes an article in The New England Journal of Medicine exposing 22 unethical studies in biomedicine, including the Tuskegee syphilis experiment and the Willowbrook hepatitis study.||United States|
|1970||Literature||Paul Ramsey publishes The Patient as Person: Explorations in Medical Ethics.|
|1970||Organization||The Institute of Society, Ethics and the Life Sciences (later Hastings Center) is founded. A freestanding bioethics center, it is the first institution devoted to the study of bioethical questions.||United States|
|1970||Literature||American biochemist Van Rensselaer Potter publishes his article Bioethics, the Science of Survival, which suggests viewing bioethics as a global movement in order to foster concern for the environment and ethics.|
|1971||Literature||Van Rensselaer Potter publishes book Bioethics: Bridge to the Future.||United States|
|1971||Organization||The Joseph and Rose Kennedy Center for the Study of Human Reproduction and Bioethics (now known as Kennedy Center) opens at Georgetown University. With similar goals to those of The Hastings Center, the Kennedy Institute is however placed inside the traditional academy.||United States|
|1973||Dan Callahan writes essay Bioethics as a Discipline, whose title is the first entry of the word "bioethics" in the catalogue of the National Library of Congress. In the article, Callahan argues for the establishment of a new academic discipline.||United States|
|1975||Literature||The Journal of Medical Ethics is launched.|
|1975||Field development||Peter Singer claims that human beings must consider the equal interests of human beings and animals alike.|
|1975||Field development||At a gathering at the Asilomar Conference on Recombinant DNA, scientists discuss the benefits and risks of recombinant DNA research; the NIH forms the Recombinant DNA Advisory Committee."||United States|
|1978||Scientific development||Louise Brown is born as the world's first test-tube baby.|
|1979||Organization||The Swiss Academy of Medical Sciences officially establishes its own private central ethical committee.||Switzerland|
|1979||The Belmont Report is released by the National Commission for the Protection of Human Subjects of Biomedical and Behavioral Research. The Report becomes a key document in human research ethics regulations in the United States.||United States|
|1980||Policy||In the Diamond v. Chakrabarty case the United States Supreme Court rules that a genetically modified bacterium can be patented because it is the product of human ingenuity. This sets a precedent for patents on other life forms and helps to establish solid intellectual property protection for the new biotechnology industry.||United States|
|1981||Organization||Japan establishes its first ethics committee, at the Medical Institute of Tokyo University.||Japan|
|1985||Literature||Zhi-zheng Du's Outline of Medical Ethics is published in China as the first systematic textbook of medical ethics after the cultural revolution of the 1960s and 1970s.||China|
|1986||Literature||Peer-reviewed academic journal Biology and Philosophy is launched.|
|1987||Organization||The European Society for Philosophy of Medicine and Health Care is founded by an international company of philosophers, physicians, ethicists and other interested professionals in the field.|
|1987||Literature||Ren-zong Qiu's Bioethics is published as the first bioethics book in China.||China|
|1988||Literature||Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics is established.|
|1988||Scientific development||Harvard University and Dow Chemical Company patent a genetically engineered mouse used to study cancer.||United States|
|1988||Literature||Zhao-xiong He's History of Chinese Medical Morality is published, providing material on medical ethics from ancient to current China.||China|
|1989||Literature||The United States National Academy of Sciences publishes On Being A Scientist, a free, short book on research ethics for scientists in training.||United States|
|1991||Organization||London-based Nuffield Council on Bioethics is established by the Nuffield Foundation to adress numerous bioethical issues in need of analysis.||United Kingdom|
|1992||Literature||Quarterly peer-reviewed academic journal Cambridge Quarterly of Healthcare Ethics is launched.|
|1992||Literature||The United States National Academy of Sciences publishes Responsible Science: Ensuring the Integrity of the Research Process. The book estimates the incidence of misconduct, discusses some of the causes of misconduct, proposes a definition of misconduct, and recommends some strategies for preventing misconduct.||United States|
|1993||Scientific development||Researchers successfully clone human embryos.|
|1993||Organization||The International Bioethics Committee is established by UNESCO to provide guidance on ethical and legal issues raised by research in medicine, biological sciences and associated technologies, and to reinforce knowledge in ethics.|
|1993||Journal||The Indian Journal of Medical Ethics is launched.||India|
|1994||The United States Government declassifies information about secret human radiation experiments conducted from the 1940s-1980s and issues an apology.||United States|
|1995||About 200 religious leaders join in Washington, DC., with leading biotechnology critic Jeremy Rifkin in a press conference named the "Joint Appeal against Human and Animal Patenting", protesting the patenting of plants, animals, and human body parts.||United States|
|1996||Scientific development||Dolly is born as the first mammal ever to be cloned from another individual’s body cell. Her birth is announced in 1997, followed by several European nations banning human cloning. The United States Congress considers a bill to ban all human cloning but changes its mind after scientists argue that the bill would undermine biomedical research.||United Kingdom|
|1998||Literature||Journal Medicine Health Care and Philosophy is launched by the European Society For Philosophy Of Medicine And Healthcare.|
|1998||Scientific development||Methods for growing human embryonic stem cells are perfected. Some countries ban the research; others promote it.|
|1998||Scientific development||American biotechnologist Craig Venter forms Celera Genomics and begins a private effort to sequence the human genome, using dozens of automated sequencing machines.|
|1999||Literature||AMA Journal of Ethics is launched.||United States|
|1999||Literature||The American Journal of Bioethics is launched.||United Sattes|
|1999||Policy||The National Institutes of Health and the Office for Human Research Protections require all people conducting or overseeing human subjects research have some training in research ethics.||United States|
|2001||Literature||Peer-reviewed journal The National Catholic Bioethics Quarterly is launched.||United States|
|2001||Field development||The United States Congress starts debating legislation on human cloning.||United States|
|2001||Policy||Several journals start requiring authors to describe their responsibilities when publishing research.|
|2001||The United States Government announces that the National Institutes of Health will fund research on approximately 64 embryonic stem cell lines created from leftover human embryos.||United States|
|2001||Organization||The International Society for Stem Cell Research is established to promote the exchange and dissemination of information and ideas relating to stem cells.|
|2001||Organization||The President's Council on Bioethics is created by United States President George W. Bush to advice the President on bioethical issues that may emerge as a consequence of advances in biomedical science and technology.||United States|
|2002||The President's Council on Bioethics recommends that the United States ban reproductive cloning and enact a moratorium on research cloning.||United States|
|2003||The United States invades Iraq with the stated purpose of eliminating its chemical, biological, and nuclear weapons programs. So far, evidence of weapons programs but no actual weapons would be found.||Iraq|
|2004||Literature||Journal of Bioethical Inquiry is released by the University of Otago Bioethics Centre.||New Zeland|
|2004||Literature||Medical ethicist James Hughes publishes Citizen Cyborg: Why Democratic Societies Must Respond to the Redesigned Human of the Future, which argues that technologies pushing the boundaries of humanness can radically improve our quality of life if they are controlled democratically.|
|2006||Literature||Quarterly peer-reviewed scientific journal BioSocieties is released.|
|2008||Literature||The International Journal of Feminist Approaches to Bioethics is launched to encourage more work in feminist bioethics.|
|2008||The Catholic Church publishes a document entitled Dignitas Personae, about a range of bioethical issues related to the areas of assisted reproduction and human genetics. The paper analizes and comments the bioethical thinking of the Catholic Church.|
|2009||Organization||Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues is established by United States President Barack Obama to advise the president and the administration on bioethical issues arising from advances in biomedicine and related areas of science and technology.||United States|
|2009||Policy||The Obama Administration announces it will significantly expand National Institutes of Health funding of human embryonic stem cell research which was restricted under the Bush Administration.||United States|
|2011||Literature||Triannual academic journal Narrative Inquiry in Bioethics is first issued.|
|2014||Various funding agencies and journals, including the National Institutes of Health, Science, and Nature, take steps to promote reproducibility in science in response to reports that many published studies in the biomedical, behavioral, and physical sciences are not reproducible.|
|2015||Literature||American bioethicist Alice Dreger publishes Galileo's Middle Finger, which discusses the ethics of medical research.||United States|
|2016||The United States National Institutes of Health places a temporary moratorium on funding for experiments involving human-animal chimeras.||United States|
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