Empirical Ethics Group

Developing a multidisciplinary research group of empirical ethics investigators

Full Project Name:Empirical Ethics GroupPrincipal Investigator:Laura W Roberts, MD, Psychiatry and Behavioral MedicineAward Amount:806,181
Award Date
July2008
Project Duration:72 months

Project Description Narrative:


In 1996, Dr. Laura Roberts launched an interdisciplinary research effort to gather evidence to clarify, address, and resolve ethically important issues arising in medical care, human research, and professional conduct in the fields of medicine and science. In 2003, Dr. Roberts transitioned this research group to the Medical College of Wisconsin, where the group began conducting studies pertaining to ethics and policy issues, where they have significantly contributed to new knowledge around issues in psychiatric genetics research, rural health care, stigma, end-of-life care, professionalism education, aging, decisional capacity, surrogate decision-making, informed consent, and related topics.

To advance the work of this group around evidence-based ethics, the Medical College of Wisconsin will create a sustainable infrastructure to support a multidisciplinary research group of empirical ethics investigators, develop junior investigators, and pursue original research in evidence-based ethics in areas related to ethics, public health, and two groups of disorders identified as impacting Wisconsin's health: mental health and alcohol/drug abuse.

Outcomes & Lessons Learned:


• Initiated work to advance new knowledge and build sustainable support through the development and submission of one R01 resubmission application, one challenge grant application, and four administrative supplements

• Developed preliminary data in promising areas including genetic testing in the criminal justice system, genetic testing for schizophrenia, and psychiatric advance directives

• Published 22 peer-reviewed journal articles, three books, four book chapters, and numerous additional reports and presentations to disseminate new knowledge developed through the research group. Published works include The Book of Ethics: Expert Guidance for Professionals Who Treat Addiction, to serve as a guide to contemporary ethical issues for health care professionals providing care for individuals suffering from substance use problems and addiction

• Established mentorship opportunities for jurnior faculty and medical students

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