Department of Social Medicine

Biomedical Ethics and Public Policy

Bioethics and medical ethics: Research on legal, ethical and societal issues for medical care
  • Medical and life science ethics, law and social issues
  • Policies for medical and bioethics
  • Legal, ethical and societal issues regarding genome medicine
  • Clinical medicine ethics
Professor KATO Kazuto
Biomedical Ethics and Public Policy
The laboratory was founded in 2001 and is designed to emphasize bioethics and public health policy

New life science and medical treatment bring new ethical and legal challenges to society

Society is benefiting tremendously from continuing progress in the medical and life sciences and the development of new medical care. At the same time, for the advancements to be acceptable, it is essential that they concur with ethical, legal and social opinions (Ethical, Legal and Social Implications, ELSI). Our laboratory analyzes potential problems associated with these advancements with regards to the public’s confidence and proposes countermeasures and solutions.

The field of bioethics is for the most part perceived to hold back science and medicine. Our approach is to bring together experts in the medical and humanity fields and gain cooperation from the general public so that bioethics helps propel science and medicine.

Ethical, legal and social issues in the medical and life sciences

High-speed sequencers have made it easy to decode the genome in a short time at low cost. Furthermore, research in regenerative medicine and other new therapies is depending more and more on iPS cells, ES cells and other stem cells. We are conducting surveys to understand potential ethical, legal and social issues that may come with these research.

Policies related to bioethics and medical ethics

Government policies in accordance the above ethical, legal and social issues are important to sustain research. We are analyzing current government guidelines and building frameworks for future ones.

Ethical, legal and social issues in genome medicine

The potential of genome medicine being used for personalized medicine creates a number of ethical, legal and social considerations, especially in cases where information is revealed accidently (* 1). We are building a basic Japanese framework for these cases that considers how patients should be informed.

* 1 For example, an unexpected disease risk may be uncovered during genome analysis and have serious repercussions on the individual and relatives

Clinical medicine ethics

Another field of ethics is ethical behavior of the doctors (doctor’s ethics). Our teachings consider these ethics by focusing on reproductive medicine, terminal care, spiritual care, etc.