Join us and experts from the UK, US and Brazil for a discussion on how research can be undertaken ethically during the emergency response to COVID-19.

A recording of this webinar is now available.

Friday 3 April, 12.00-12.40 (BST)

Registration is closed.

Governments and companies around the world are investing millions in research on the COVID-19 virus. Researchers are rapidly collecting samples and data to increase our understanding of the virus and to develop diagnostic tools, and clinical trials of vaccines and therapies have been established at incredible speed. This research will play a crucial role in supporting the immediate healthcare response, as well as in our learning for the future.

Global health emergencies by their nature are challenging environments in which to conduct research. They involve disruption and great health need, and are often accompanied by time pressure to act, uncertainty and distress. Specific challenges include:

  • balancing clinical trial safety with the urgent need for vaccines and therapies
  • seeking genuinely informed consent from research participants
  • facilitating effective collaboration between researchers and institutions
  • fair sharing of data and samples between different countries
  • ensuring equitable access to any new drugs, therapies or vaccines

In January 2020, the Nuffield Council on Bioethics published the findings of a two year in-depth inquiry into the ethical issues relating to research in global health emergencies. Download here.

Chair: Hugh Whittall, Director, Nuffield Council on Bioethics


  • Beatriz da Costa Thomé is a paediatrician trained at the Medical School of the Federal University of São Paulo, Brazil. She has a Masters in Public Health with focus on Global Health from the University of Washington. Previous roles have included the provision of technical support for HIV research in Kenya and Mozambique (based in ICAP, Columbia University); work as an investigator in vaccine trials in Brazil and as a Clinical Research and Development manager at Butantan Institute, São Paulo, with focus on developing vaccines for the national public health system. She is currently affiliated to the Preventive Medicine Department of the Federal University of São Paulo, Brazil, teaching Epidemiology and mentoring Medical students. She was a member of the working group that prepared the Nuffield Council report on research in global health emergencies.
  • Jeffrey Kahn has been the Director of the Johns Hopkins Berman Institute of Bioethics in Baltimore, USA, since 2016. He is also the inaugural Robert Henry Levi and Ryda Hecht Levi Professor of Bioethics and Public Policy, and Professor in the Dept. of Health Policy and Management of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. He works in a variety of areas of bioethics, exploring the intersection of ethics and health/science policy, including human and animal research ethics, public health, and ethical issues in emerging biomedical technologies.
  • Sue Tansey is an independent Consultant Pharmaceutical Physician working with small and medium sized companies in the pharmaceutical industry. She trained in paediatrics and neonatology in the NHS, but having an interest in clinical research she joined the pharmaceutical industry in 1998. Since then she has been involved in the clinical development of new medicines and vaccines in several therapeutic areas.

Attendees will not be audible or visible during the webinar, but will be able to put questions to the panel through a Q&A tool.

A recording and summary of the webinar will be available on the Nuffield Council on Bioethics website shortly afterwards.