Our in-depth inquiries are the cornerstone on which our reputation for high-quality and influential contributions has rested.

In-depth inquiries into developments arising from biological and medical research have been our core activity since we were established in 1991. We generally run two in-depth inquiries at a time.

The thorough nature of these in-depth projects means that they usually take 18-24 months. Our inquires are overseen by a multidisciplinary working group, which is chosen by the Council for each project, and are informed by extensive consultation and research. At the end of an inquiry, we will usually publish a report with conclusions and recommendations for policy and practice.

They have resulted in over 30 detailed reports or publications on a range of bioethics topics, many of which have been influential in informing policy, practice and public debate.

Current in-depth inquiries

Couple dancing

The future of ageing

What does it mean to ‘live well’ in old age? This enormous question is a starting point for our latest inquiry which will explore ethical questions in relation to the role of science and technology in helping people live well in old age.


All reports

Genome editing and farmed animal breeding: social and ethical issues
December 2021

Research in global health emergencies: ethical issues
January 2020

Genome editing and human reproduction: social and ethical issues
July 2018

Human embryo culture: Discussions concerning the statutory time limit for maintaining human embryos in culture in the light of some recent scientific developments
August 2017

Cosmetic procedures: ethical issues
June 2017

Non-invasive prenatal testing: ethical issues
March 2017

Genome editing: an ethical review
September 2016

(un)natural: Ideas about naturalness in public and political debates about science, technology and medicine
November 2015

Children and clinical research: ethical issues
May 2015

The collection, linking and use of data in biomedical research and health care: ethical issues
February 2015

The findings of a series of engagement activities exploring the culture of scientific research in the UK
December 2014

Novel neurotechnologies: intervening in the brain
June 2013

Donor conception: ethical aspects of information sharing
April 2013

Emerging biotechnologies: technology, choice and the public good
December 2012

Novel techniques for the prevention of mitochondrial DNA disorders: an ethical review
June 2012

Solidarity: reflections on an emerging concept in bioethics
November 2011

Human bodies: donation for medicine and research
October 2011

Biofuels: ethical issues
April 2011

Medical profiling and online medicine: the ethics of ‘personalised healthcare’ in a consumer age
October 2010

Dementia: ethical issues
October 2009

Public health: ethical issues
November 2007

The forensic use of bioinformation: ethical issues
September 2007

Critical care decisions in fetal and neonatal medicine: ethical issues
November 2006

Genetic screening: a supplement to the 1993 report by the Nuffield Council on Bioethics
July 2006

The ethics of research involving animals
May 2005

The ethics of research related to healthcare in developing countries: a follow-up discussion paper
March 2005

The use of genetically modified crops in developing countries: a follow-up discussion paper
December 2003

Pharmacogenetics: ethical issues
September 2003

Genetics and human behaviour: the ethical context
October 2002

The ethics of patenting DNA: a discussion paper
July 2002

The ethics of research related to healthcare in developing countries
April 2002

Stem cell therapy: the ethical issues – a discussion paper
April 2000

The ethics of clinical research in developing countries: a discussion paper
October 1999

Genetically modified crops: the ethical and social issues
May 1999

Mental disorders and genetics: the ethical context
September 1998

Animal-to-human transplants: the ethics of xenotransplantation
March 1996

Human tissue: ethical and legal issues
April 1995

Genetic screening: ethical issues
December 1993