Although clinical ethics has become a central, and welcome, component of the health care landscape, research ethics consultation services are still uncommon. Indeed, the usual approach to ethical concerns in research with human subjects has been primarily a regulatory one. Nonetheless, ethical problems also arise in the context of research and thus collaborations between investigators and research ethicists are as essential as those between physicians and clinical ethicists. The authors argue that the use of research ethics consultation services can be of benefit to clinical scientists, bioethicists, research institutions, and research subjects. Such services can increase sensitivity among researchers to the ethical implications of their work, result in better institutional research policies, and facilitate the development of an organizational culture that is receptive to the identification and resolution of ethical conflicts. The authors conclude by describing the process of development and implementation of such a research ethics consultation service at Weill Medical College of Cornell University.
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