Professor

Department of Social Medicine

Department of Philosophy

Center for Bioethics

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

email: rlwalker@med.unc.edu

office: 333E MacNider Hall

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 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. My approach is to 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 fellowship in bioethics and health policy at Johns Hopkins University. 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. In Philosophy, I regularly teach one course per year at the undergraduate and/or graduate level. In Social Medicine, I teach medical students during the foundational phase of their curriculum. In the past, I have served on the UNC Hospital Ethics Service, where I was also co-director of education, and currently I serve on the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee. With Jill A. 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 A. 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 E. Henderson, PI), and on a National Human Genome Research Institute funded grant on Incidental Enhancements connected with genome editing technologies (Eric Juengst and Jean Cadigan, PIs). In the College of Arts and Sciences at UNC, I am a fellow in the Parr Center for Ethics, a member of the Standing Advisory Committee for the Department of Public Policy, and a member of the Faculty Advisory Board for the Institute for Arts and Humanities.