Professor
Department of Social Medicine

Core Faculty
Center for Bioethics

Adjunct Professor
Department of Philosophy

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

rlwalker@med.unc.edu

333E MacNider

 

I am a philosopher of medicine whose primary focus is on the relationship between moral theories and concepts and various biomedical practices. My current work is largely about biomedical research practices including animal research, phase I healthy volunteer research, and genomic advances. I also work on topics in health care  including distributive justice and concepts of autonomy. While it is common within bioethics to argue for prescriptive conclusions on controversial issues, I am more concerned with practical ethics methodologies including virtue ethics. I investigate how we can fruitfully frame and respond to bioethical problems in the context of biomedical practices. In addition to using philosophical methods, I also work with qualitative empirical data.

In 2001, I completed a Greenwall Foundation post-doctoral fellowship in bioethics and health policy at Johns Hopkins. I then held a visiting faculty position in the Philosophy Department at the University of Michigan, arriving at UNC in the Departments of Social Medicine and Philosophy in 2003. In 2010, I joined the new Center for Bioethics at UNC as Core Faculty. In Philosophy, I regularly teach topics in ethics and bioethics at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. In Social Medicine, I teach medical students during the “foundational” phase of their curriculum. I have served on the UNC Hospital Ethics Service, where I was also co-director of education, and currently serve on the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee. With Jill Fisher, I am Principal Investigator on an NIH supported study of Comparative Model Organism Research Ethics (CMORE) for Healthy Volunteers, which aims to provide ethical and policy guidance for Phase I healthy volunteer clinical trials. This project is the next phase of the HealthyVOICES project (Jill Fisher, PI), a longitudinal study of healthy volunteers’ perceptions of risks and benefits of Phase I clinical trial participation, and enrollment decision making processes. I am also a co-Investigator in the Center for Genomics and Society at UNC (Gail Henderson, PI). In the College of Arts and Sciences at UNC, I am a fellow in the Parr Center for Ethics and a member of the Faculty Advisory Board for the Institute for Arts and Humanities.