Center for Medical Ethics and Health Policy


The center is renowned for its comprehensive and original bioethics research. Faculty members work closely with clinical and scientific colleagues at Baylor College of Medicine, the Texas Medical Center, and throughout the country, to explore a broad range of emerging ethical issues.

With diverse interests in bioethics, medical humanities and health policy, the focus of the current research program centers around three priority areas: Clinical Ethics, the Ethical, Legal and Social Implications of Genomics, and Medical Decision Making and Ethics. The following is a list of the currently funded research projects in the center.

Clinical Ethics Research Projects

Embedded Ethics Program in Medical Intensive Care Unit and Cardiovascular Intensive Care Unit to Alleviate Moral Distress

The study assesses an intervention (an “Embedded Ethics Program”) developed to alleviate moral distress. Read more about this project.

Elucidating Patient Perspectives on Surgical Innovations

This project focuses on on transplantation ethics and decision-making involving mechanical circulatory support devices. Read more about this project.

ELSI Research Projects

BabySeq: Genome Sequence-Based Screening for Childhood Risk and Newborn Illness

The BabySeq project seeks to safely test a new approach to newborn screening using whole genome sequencing. Read more about this project.

BASIC: Baylor Advancing Sequencing into Childhood Cancer Care - Incorporation of Genomic Sequencing into Pediatric Cancer Care

The goal of this CSER project is to integrate genomic sequence data into the care of childhood cancer patients with high-risk solid tumors and brain tumors. With clinical colleagues at Texas Children’s Cancer Center and genetic scientist at BCM’s Whole Genome Laboratory, the project is assessing the impact of reporting whole exome sequence data through physicians to participating parents. Read more about this project.

Baylor-John Hopkins Center for Mendelian Genetics

This study is a collaborative partnership between the human genetics programs at Baylor College of Medicine and Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, forming the Baylor-Hopkins Center for Mendelian Genomics. Read more about this project.

Building the Medical Information Commons: Participant Engagement and Policy

This study will begin to establish the necessary foundation for developing a sustainable ethical and policy framework for the new medical information commons. Read more about this project.

Evaluating Benefit-Risk Trade-Offs for Clinical Use of Whole Genome Sequencing

This CSER-related project is aiming to develop and test an approach to examine how individuals and physicians make benefit-risk trade-off decisions about whole genome sequencing and the implications of these decisions in the healthcare system and society. Read more about this project.

Human Genome Sequencing Center

The Human Genome Sequencing Center at Baylor College of Medicine supports a broad range of activities that address biomedical questions using high-throughput sequencing. Read more about this project.

MedSeq: Integration of Whole Genome Sequencing into Clinical Medicine

The MedSeq Project is a CSER study exploring and comparing the impact of using whole genome sequencing (WGS) in two distinct clinical settings, primary care and cardiology. Read more about this project.

Multi'omics Approach towards Deciphering the Influence of the Microbiome on Preterm Birth

The scientific purpose of the study is to explore the underlying factors influencing a woman’s risk of preterm birth. The Center is providing ethical oversight and consultation on ethical issues as they arise, including challenges regarding banked biospecimens. Read more about this project.

PoliSeq: Clinical Integration of Next Generation Sequencing - A Policy Analysis

As the whole genome sequencing industry continues to grow, it is imperative that policy challenges arising from the utilization of this technology are identified and addressed in a timely manner. This project identifies and prioritizes the unique policy challenges involved in translating WGS into health benefits in the United States. Read more about this project.

Medical Decision Making and Ethics Research Projects

Decision Aid for Ventricular Assist Device Placement

The study will focus on creating a patient-centered decision aid that presents outcomes, risks, experiences, and uncertainties about ventricular assist device placement in a clear, comprehensive, scientifically-valid, and unbiased manner to help patients make informed and value-based decisions. Read more about this project.

Ethically Responsible Choice Architecture in Medical Decision Making

This project aims to develop empirically-informed comprehensive normative guidelines for the use of choice architecture in (1) prostate cancer treatment decision-making, and (2) decision-making about tracheostomy placement in critically ill children. Read more about this project.

Integrating Ethics into the Science of Behavior Change: An Ethical Framework for Clinicians and Policymakers

The goal of this study is to clarify and address these ethical issues and categorize them into a set of recommendations for policymakers and researchers considering utilizing science of behavior change techniques. In addition, this research seeks to identify settings in which clinicians envision implementing science of behavior change techniques to influence their patients’ health decisions and behaviors. Read more about this project.