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Bioethics is the study of ethical, legal, and social issues raised by advances in biology and medicine. Bioethics addresses a range of controversial topics, including privacy and fairness in the use of genetic information, integration of new technologies, such as genetic testing, into medical practice, and the design and conduct of research studies and clinical trials.  

Materials for Bioethics


Bioethics in Genetics

Description: An article on striking a balance between too little and too much protection for people undergoing genetic counseling, genetic testing, and those involved in genetic research

Case Study in Lethal Diseases and Autonomy

Description: Should expectant couples undergo prenatal testing for serious conditions that won't manifest until adulthood?

Genetic Discrimination

Description: Visit this Web page to read about genetic discrimination laws and legislative history.

Human Subjects Research in Genomics

Description: Learn about laws that protect research participants and how genomics research must take great care to meet these standards.

Informed Consent for Genomics Research

Description: DNA samples, genomics data, and associated health information are being stored and shared to maximize research discovery. It is essential that the rights and interests of people who participate in studies are respected throughout the process. Informed consent plays a crucial role.

Is It Ethical to Genetically Modify Farm Animals for Agriculture?

Description: Genetic engineering involves altering an organisms genes to enhance certain characteristics. Read about advantages and disadvantages associated with genetically modifying animals for agriculture.

Should Animals Be Used In Research?

Description: Explore views for and against the use of animals in scientific research.

The Henrietta Lacks Timeline (PDF 2,218.14 KB)

Description: This infographic poster illustrates the historical timeline of Henrietta Lacks' immortal cells (HeLa cell line). Research using the HeLa cell line has resulted in drugs against influenza, leukemia, herpes, Parkinson's disease and more.

The New Genetics - 21st-Century Genetics

Description: Information from a science education booklet that explains systems biology, green fluorescent protein, genetic testing, privacy concerns, DNA forensics, biotechnology, patents, and careers

Interactive Tutorials

Bio Ethics Education Project (BEEP)

Description: An interactive website and virtual learning environment developed to highlight the moral, ethical, social, economic, environmental and technological implications and applications of biology.


Description: Interactive tutorials and animations on cloning

Gender Testing of Athletes

Description: An interactive tutorial that explores the complexities and ethics of gender testing of athletes

Teacher Resources

Animals in Research (Lesson Plans/Lesson Activities)

Description: A curriculum supplement introducing the complex topic of animal research using structured discussion, stakeholder activities, case studies, and ethical frameworks.

Bioethics 101 (Lesson Plans/Lesson Activities)

Description: A five-lesson introductory course to help science teachers in guiding their students to analyze issues using scientific facts, ethical principles, and reasoned judgment

Debating the Ethical and Legal Implications of Genetic Testing (PDF 904.59 KB, Lesson Plans/Lesson Activities)

Description: Students explore the difference between ethical and legal issues and use an analytical framework to work through an ethical scenario before researching and debating two genetic testing scenarios. Additional chapters from DNA: Promise and Peril (McCabe, Linda L. and McCabe, Edward R.B. Regents of the University of California Press, 2008.) provide a starting point for their research.

Does Our Background Shape Our Thinking About Environmental Issues? (PDF 175.67 KB, Lesson Plans/Lesson Activities)

Description: A lesson guide exploring personal attitues and impressions of environmental issues

Ethics and Reproductive Issues - The Dilemma of Choice (Lesson Plans/Lesson Activities)

Description: This lesson introduces students to the ethical implications of using our growing knowledge about the human genome to improve our personal and public health.

Ethics Primer (Lesson Plans/Lesson Activities)

Description: Engaging, interactive, and classroom-friendly lesson ideas for integrating ethical issues into a science classroom.

Exploring Bioethics (Lesson Plans/Lesson Activities)

Description: Curriculum supplement, teacher guide, and support materials on bioethics

Genes, Environment and Genetic Complexity: Aggression in Humans (Lesson Plans/Lesson Activities)

Description: Questions about whether genetics can, in part, explain violent, aggressive behavior in humans are not new. Recent episodes of large-scale violence, whether in schools or other public places, have renewed discussion about the intersection of crime, mental health and genetics. In this lesson, students are asked to examine popular but incorrect ideas related to the idea that a single gene or even set of genes can cause humans to behave aggressively.

Genetics and Reproduction (Lesson Plans/Lesson Activities)

Description: This lesson addresses the genetic reproductive technologies that are being used by individuals who, for a variety of reasons, wish to know and/or have some choice about the genetic makeup of their children. It begins with a discussion of the technologies that can reveal the genetic makeup of fetuses and then moves on to a technology called preimplantation genetic diagnosis (PGD). The goal of this lesson is to give students an opportunity to discuss many aspects of PGD such that they become aware of the diversity of opinions surrounding PGD.

Genome Editing and CRISPR Lesson Plan (Lesson Plans/Lesson Activities)

Description: Through this lesson plan you will explore with your students how advances in our ability to change genomes may impact individuals and society.

HIV Vaccines (Lesson Plans/Lesson Activities)

Description: A curriculum unit exploring the scientific and ethical issues involved in clinical HIV vaccine trials using human research participants.

Humans in Research (Lesson Plans/Lesson Activities)

Description: A curriculum supplement introducing how research with humans is conducted, the rules and regulations involved, and the bioethical principles that guide scientists when involving humans in research.

Protecting Athletes with Genetic Conditions: Sickle Cell Trait (Lesson Plans/Lesson Activities)

Description: As the genetic basis for many health conditions is revealed, some doctors, coaches, and academic and athletic organizations are wondering whether genetic analysis can provide health and safety benefits for athletes. As of 2013, the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), the governing body of college sports in the United States, began screening all of its athletes for the genetic condition sickle cell trait (SCT). This lesson explores the discussion surrounding this policy and asks students to examine how genetics might impact their own athletic choices and options.

Technological Advances in Health (Lesson Plans/Lesson Activities)

Description: Students will learn how technology influences human existence by examining the benefits and risks of different biotechnological advances.

The New Science of Addiction - Genetics and the Brain (Lesson Plans/Lesson Activities)

Description: Nine high quality lesson plans teaching a variety of topics, including the genetics of drug addiction and the origin, effect, and medical consequence of drug abuse

The Social Nature of Scientific Research (Lesson Plans/Lesson Activities)

Description: A curriculum supplement introducing students to ways in which scientific research is conducted, how social forces influence scientific priorities, and how basic scientific research may, or may not, support medical applications for human health

Who Owns Rights To Pharmacogenetic Information? (PDF 28.17 KB, Lesson Plans/Lesson Activities)

Description: This lesson examines potential benefits, risks, and ethical concerns of designer drugs.

Why Teach Bioethics?

Description: An article exploring why it is important for teachers to incorporate bioethics in their classrooms and links to additional resources.


Telling Stories - Issues Raised

Description: A web-based multi-media education resource that uses real-life stories from the public and professionals to promote knowledge and understanding of genetics and how it impacts lives. Explore videos that shed light on issues from, ethics to care and management of people with genetic disease.