Academic journal article The Hastings Center Report

In Memoriam: John C. Fletcher

Academic journal article The Hastings Center Report

In Memoriam: John C. Fletcher

Article excerpt

John C. Fletcher, who died May 27, 2004, was a pioneer in bioethics. In 1967, while pursuing his doctorate at Union Theological Seminary on the ethics of clinical research, he published an article on "Human Experimentation: Ethics in the Consent Situation" in Law and Contemporary Problems. As the bioethics movement gained momentum, he became a founding fellow of The Hastings Center.

In the late 1960s, John taught at Virginia Theological Seminary before founding an experimental theological seminary in Washington, D.C. In 1977, he became the first chief of the Bioethics Program in the Clinical Center at the National Institutes of Health. He joined the faculty of the University of Virginia in 1987, where he established and directed the Center for Biomedical Ethics and taught until his retirement in 1999.

John's several books and numerous articles made valuable contributions to bioethics, both in providing empirical data and in arguing for particular policies and practices in research, death and dying, reproductive technologies, and genetics. However, his main influence stemmed from his leadership and entrepreneurial activities, especially in promoting bioethics as an institutional service for addressing ethical issues and resolving moral problems, with the aim of helping medical research and health care institutions carry out their missions within appropriate ethical constraints.

From the early days of his work in research ethics, John was impressed with the Institutional Review Board as a mechanism for bringing impartiality into the planning and conduct of clinical research. …

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