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About Us

The Wellcome Centre for Ethics and Humanities

In a world characterised by rapid scientific and technological advances with profound ethical and social implications, researchers at the Wellcome Centre for Ethics and Humanities aim to lead debate on the ethical requirements for scientific research and technological innovation capable of commanding well-founded public trust and confidence.

The changing form and scope of biomedical research, combined with broader technological and social developments, presents a major, unprecedented set of challenges to the core assumptions and practices of ethics and of the humanities as currently understood. Engaging successfully with such problems requires a paradigm shift and a change of scale in approaches to ethics and humanities research.

Building on Oxford’s track record for research in bioethics and the medical humanities, the Wellcome Centre for Ethics and Humanities was established in 2017 as the University of Oxford’s Centre for research into the ethical aspects of advances in neuroscience, big data, genomics, and global connectedness. It is a collaborative initiative between the Ethox Centre, the Oxford Neuroscience, Ethics and Society Group (Neurosec), the Oxford Uehiro Centre for Practical Ethics, and the Oxford Centre for History of Science, Medicine and Technology.

The Wellcome Centre for Ethics and Humanities is located at the Oxford Big Data Institute, establishing a critical mass of research excellence in ethics and the humanities interdigitated with major initiatives in data-driven science, genomics, neuroscience, and global health. The Big Data Institute (BDI) is home to researchers from genomics, epidemiology and infectious disease alongside those from computer science, statistics and engineering to develop the field of big data as applied to biomedical research. Scientists working in the BDI form an analytical hub, deeply connected to the wider experimental and clinical community in Oxford and beyond, working to solve some of the major challenges in medical research. The BDI aims to develop, evaluate and deploy efficient methods for acquiring and analysing information at scale and for exploiting the opportunities for large-scale studies. It provides core facilities in high performance computing and houses about 350 researchers drawn from a wide range of disciplines. The BDI is located on a campus that is also home to the Wellcome Centre for Human Genetics; the Nuffield Department of Population Health, which hosts UK Biobank and the Million Women Study; Oxford’s Tropical Medicine Department, with its major research units in Kenya, Thailand, Laos, and Vietnam; and close to the Wellcome Centre for Integrative Neuroimaging.