The Nuffield Council on Bioethics is an independent body that examines and advises on ethical issues arising from developments in bioscience and health.

It was established by the Trustees of the Nuffield Foundation in 1991, and since 1994 it has been funded jointly by the Foundation, Wellcome and the Medical Research Council.

We have an international reputation for providing independent and balanced advice to policy-makers and stimulating debate in bioethics. Our recommendations are backed up by a thorough process of consultation, engagement and deliberation with a wide range of people and organisations.

Our terms of reference are:

  • To identify and define ethical questions raised by recent developments in biological and medical research that concern, or are likely to concern, the public interest;
  • To make arrangements for the independent examination of such questions with appropriate involvement of relevant stakeholders;
  • To inform and engage in policy and media debates about those ethical questions and provide informed comment on emerging issues related to or derived from the Council’s published or ongoing work; and
  • To make policy recommendations to Government or other relevant bodies and to disseminate its work through published reports, briefings and other appropriate outputs.

We aim to…

Inform policy and public debate through timely consideration of the ethical questions raised by biological and medical research so that the benefits to society are realised in a way that is consistent with public values.

We do this by…

  • Engaging a range of public, professional, political, and policy stakeholders to ensure that the Council is aware of, and responsive to, the major issues of interest and concern to them.
  • Involving a broad range of expertise and opinion to develop a range of high-quality outputs and activities.
  • Contributing to contemporary discussions of bioethics in professional and policy arenas, including making recommendations to Government or other bodies in a timely, practical, and relevant way.
  • Leading public debate on bioethics issues by playing an active role in media, policy, and professional fora both nationally and internationally

In keeping with our values of…

  • Quality, rationality, and rigour. All aspects of our work should draw on a wide range of expertise, deliver to the highest possible standards, be based on the best evidence available, and be supported by careful and comprehensive analysis.
  • Independence. Members of the Nuffield Council on Bioethics and of our working groups should be selected for their individual qualities and expertise, not to represent any particular group or view. Whilst consulting widely, we should be free to select the topics, and the content, of our outputs.
  • Transparency and inclusiveness. We should work in a way that is clear and accessible to diverse audiences. Whilst the expression of all views is encouraged and welcomed, we should favour no single view or approach to bioethics.
  • Relevance and timeliness. We should aim to work on issues that are of significance to society, so that our outputs can support policy developments and debates.