USIA Fellow Prof. Tom Beauchamp

Professor Tom Beauchamp is the Honorary / Advisory Bioethicist of the United Sigma Intelligence Association.

Dr. Beauchamp serves as Professor of Philosophy and Senior Research Scholar, Georgetown University’s Kennedy Institute of Ethics. He was born in Austin, Texas. He took graduate degrees from Yale University and The Johns Hopkins University, where he received his Ph.D. in 1970. He then joined the faculty of the Philosophy Department at Georgetown University, and in the mid-70s accepted a joint appointment at the Kennedy Institute of Ethics. In late 1975, he joined the staff of the National Commission for the Protection of Human Subjects of Biomedical and Behavioral Research, where he wrote the bulk of The Belmont Report (1978).

Beauchamp’s research interests are in the ethics of human-subjects research, the place of universal principles and rights in biomedical ethics, methods of bioethics, Hume and the history of modern philosophy, and business ethics. Publications include the following co-authored works: Principles of Biomedical Ethics (6th edn. 2009), A History and Theory of Informed Consent (Oxford, 1986), and The Human Use of Animals (Oxford, 2nd edn. 2008, with four coauthors). His Philosophical Ethics (McGraw-Hill, third edn., 2001) is a work in ethical theory. Publications also include a number of edited and coedited anthologies and over 150 scholarly articles in journals and books. Many of his articles on biomedical ethics were collected and republished early in 2010 by the Oxford University Press under the title Standing on Principles: Collected Works. Beauchamp has recently co-edited (with R. G. Frey) The Oxford Handbook of Animal Ethics–a comprehensive, state-of-the-art presentation of the field—and he has also coedited (with George G. Brenkert) The Oxford Handbook of Business Ethics, a similarly comprehensive volume on the subject. Beauchamp is one of three editors of the Clarendon Hume, a critical edition of the works of David Hume under continuous publication by Clarendon Press, Oxford. Beauchamp has himself issued three volumes in the Clarendon Hume. All deal with Hume’s theories of human nature, the limits of knowledge, moral philosophy, moral psychology, and philosophy of religion, based on Hume’s works An Enquiry Concerning the Principles of Morals, An Enquiry Concerning Human UnderstandingA Dissertation on the Passions, and The Natural History of Religion. Beauchamp’s co-authored book Hume and the Problem of Causation (Oxford University Press, 1981) has been widely discussed in the Hume literature. In 2011 Dr. Beauchamp was given the Lifetime Achievement Award for Excellence in Research Ethics by Public Responsibility in Medicine and Research (PRIM&R). In 2010 he was presented the Henry Beecher Award of the Hastings Center, New York, for a lifetime of contributions to research ethics and other areas of bioethics.

In 2004, he was given the Lifetime Achievement Award of the American Society of Bioethics and Humanities (ASBH) in recognition of outstanding contributions and significant publications in bioethics and the humanities. In 2003, he was presented Georgetown University’s Career Recognition Award, which is awarded to a faculty member in the University each year for distinguished research across an entire career. In 1994, Indiana University made Beauchamp the first award winner of its “Memorial Award for Furthering Greater Understanding and Exchange of Opinions between the Professions of Law and Medicine.”

Dr. Beauchamp currently participates as an investigator with a small group of scholars at The Johns Hopkins University. Ruth Faden and Nancy Kass are co-principal investigators; the other investigators are Steven Goodman, Peter Pronovost, and Sean Tunis. This Challenge Grant is part of the stimulus package passed by Congress in 2009. This team works on the conceptual, moral, and policy dimensions of the distinction between research and practice. Upon the project’s completion, a report will be made to federal authorities on the state of current federal requirements governing human-subjects research and the need to revise them. Dr. Beauchamp currently holds a National Science Foundation award to advance work in animal-research ethics, together with a group of investigators headed by Hope Ferdowsian at George Washington University. The effort is centered on analysis of the concept of vulnerability to harm and the creation of an anatomy of potential harms from research interventions, especially pain, distress, and suffering, but also including fear, anxiety, depression, and complex psychiatric disorders. Once the investigators have explored these issues in adequate depth, they will critically evaluate current policies and guidelines regarding animal-research ethics. Currently the focus is on the harms that have occurred to chimpanzees as subjects of biomedical research. Dr. Beauchamp early in 2011 completed work as a co-principal investigator along with Skip Nelson (University of Pennsylvania and FDA) and Mary Frances Luce (Duke University) on a grant that studied the voluntariness of parental decisions in consenting to pediatric cancer trials. This National Science Foundation funded work had an empirical dimension, a conceptual dimension, a normative ethical dimension, and a policy dimension. It led to several publications in 2010 and 2011.