The Division is committed to supporting training in bioethics research and providing mentoring and educational programming for students and faculty interested in ethics from both research and clinical perspectives. We are continuing to develop seminars, short courses, and workshops for students, faculty, and staff at Columbia University Irving Medical Center and professional schools and the departments of graduate and undergraduate education at Columbia University.

Courses Offered in 2021

ELSI Issues in Human Genomics (Spring 2021)

Program in Genetic Counseling, Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons

Course number: GENEM0405

Term: Spring 2021

Credits: 3.0

Course Director: Sandra Soo-Jin Lee, PhD



Course Description

This course will engage the ethical, legal, and social issues raised in human genetics and its translation in clinical care. Topics will include biobanking and population sampling, the return of results in clinical and research contexts, gene therapy, direct-to-consumer genetic services, and the increasingly porous boundary between health and non-health use of genetics. Students will discuss the meaning of consent, concepts of race and ethnicity, expectations for and limitations to privacy, health inequities, and benefit sharing. Through readings, case presentations, and discussions, applications to genetic counseling will be emphasized.

Building Interdisciplinary Research Models (Spring 2021)

Course Numbers:  MSPH BIST 89260, SON N9260, GSAS G9260

Class Time & Location: Fridays, 10:30am – 12:50 pm, Online.  

Credits:  2 credits


 Jean-Marie Bruzzese, PhD


Sandra Soo-Jin Lee, Ph.D


Course Description 

Interdisciplinary research is an approach to advancing scientific knowledge in which researchers from different disciplines work at the borders of their disciplines to address complex questions and problems. Successful interdisciplinary efforts require mastery of specific competencies.  This seminar will introduce students to competencies in interdisciplinary research through a combination of readings, case studies, and lectures in each necessary aspect, chosen from fields essential to successful interdisciplinary research.  It is intended to assist participants to understand why and how different professional disciplines must work together to generate and disseminate knowledge. We will examine: different conceptualizations of interdisciplinarity; barriers to and facilitators of interdisciplinary research; approaches, benefits, and limitations of collaboration and team science; ethics of collaboration; methods for measuring interdisciplinary collaboration; the intersection of translational and interdisciplinary scientific strategies; and individual researchers’ experiences with and evaluations of their own interdisciplinary scientific projects.  Participants will develop a set of skills to be effective members and leaders of interdisciplinary research teams. 

Interrogating Ethics and Justice in Digital Health (Fall 2021)

This new course is a collaboration between the Division of Ethics and the Department of Biomedical Informatics, funded by a grant from the Columbia Collaboratory awarded to Noemie Elhadad, PhD and Sandra Soo-Jin Lee, PhD.

Course Summary:

Engaging with data is a civic requirement. Technical expertise must include engagement with the ethical issues and policy implications related to emerging data-driven techniques. The biomedical, health, and clinical domains are going through in-depth changes as artificial intelligence and data-driven thinking have become inherent to routine processes. How will knowledge production in health data science determine what counts as healthy, normal, or disease in individuals and groups? Who will get access to what care and at what price when treatment recommendations are guided by artificial intelligence? The purpose of this course is to engage students in thinking about the ethical issues and social implications of the creation, analysis, and application of data in health. This multi-disciplinary course will teach students to situate data technologies within their socio-political contexts and to examine the social life of data and its impact on society. Students will become adept at identifying and analyzing how the management and interpretation of data impacts and is impacted by social, economic, and political processes. This collaborative course will provide innovative materials and hands-on experience to students through 

  1. a series of use cases that reflect ongoing themes in ethics and justice in digital health, and corresponding simulated datasets & computational tools for students to engage with;
  2. collaborative, multi-disciplinary work on a research project at the intersection of ethics and digital health for students to synthesize their skills and knowledge acquired during the course; and
  3. mentoring for students to write an op-ed on a specific topic in ethics for digital health targeted at the general public.