The growth of scientific knowledge and technical ability in medicine and the biological sciences has led to a number of ethical dilemmas which perplex all of us, but especially those in the health care field. Does the fact that we can prolong the life of a patient in a permanent vegetative state mean that we should do so? Is embryonic stem cell research justified by the prospect it offers of alleviating serious diseases? Should more medical resources go into intensive care for extremely premature infants, given the cost of such treatment and its mixed outcome? Should scientists proceed with research trying to clone human beings? At the Centre for Human Bioethics we believe that our ethical thinking can catch up and keep pace with advances in biomedical technology if we have the necessary resources to do so. We can also anticipate future developments and assess what we might do if and when those developments become a reality.
The Monash Bioethics Centre was established by Professor Peter Singer in 1980 as Australia's first research centre devoted to bioethics, and it has developed into one of the world's leading Centres of its kind. It is based at Monash University's Clayton Campus, and is part of the Faculty of Arts. The Centre pursues vigorous research into many aspects of bioethics, and teaches a strong graduate program to a range of health professionals seeking to develop their skills in this area. The Centre has become known for its practical and non-sectarian approach to ethical issues, and has produced ground-breaking work in several areas of bioethics and ethical theory, particularly reproductive ethics, end-of-life decision-making, and the development of utilitarian and virtue-based approaches to ethics. The Centre has also pioneered graduate study in bioethics, with its popular Master of Bioethics program taken by students from around the world.
The Centre has three primary aims:
- To carry out research on issues in human bioethics and to promote study of the ethical, social and legal problems arising out of medical, biological and genetic research.
- To provide an advisory and resource centre for government, professional, educational, and community groups.
- To stimulate the development of educational programs in human bioethics for professionals and the public.