Fellowship Overview
Why Columbia University?
Components of the Fellowship:

Clinical Ethics Consultation
Academic Courses
Empirical research
Additional Educational Opportunities
Salary and Benefits
Evaluation of Fellows
Application Process
Contact Information


**This Fellowship is no longer available at the present time**



The Columbia University Center for Bioethics and the Irving Institute for Clinical and Translational Research (IICTR), announce a two-year Clinical Bioethics and Ethical Translational Research (CBETR) Fellowship Program. The Fellowship will begin on July 1, 2008.

The Fellowship is intended to educate physicians who are interested in contributing to an advancing field to become skilled bioethicists, both in clinical consultation and in "bench to bedside" translational research settings. It is expected that Fellows will become clinical educators as well as researchers and academic scholars. Ultimately, we expect they will be the leaders who will direct centers and departments of Clinical Bioethics and/or Translational Research at academic medical centers and hospitals throughout the country.

The CBETR Program has a truly unique focus on the ethics of translational research, a field burgeoning with unaddressed dilemmas as a result of its rapid growth in recent years. Gaining expertise in this field will provide the Fellow a skill set few others possess. Many questions will challenge the learner:
What kind of criteria will basic research discoveries have to satisfy in order to uphold a clinician's fiduciary obligations to clinical trial participants?

  • Is there a consensus regarding when preclinical data are sufficient to justify translation into Phase I trials?
  • What are safe clinical trial designs for novel therapeutic techniques (e.g., gene transfer/ therapy, RNAi, stem cell implants)?
  • How much communication is there between basic, preclinical, and applied researchers and how can the Translational Researcher serve as the consultant to promote constructive communication?

Upon completion of the Fellowship, Fellows will receive a Certificate in Clinical Bioethics and Ethical Translational Research from the Center for Bioethics at Columbia University.

This Fellowship will pave the way for a new and singular expert who will be prepared to flourish in the challenging environment that Clinical Bioethics consultation and Translational Research present.

For more detailed information on the CBETR Fellowship, see our full Fellowship Description .


With a wealth of academic and medical resources to draw upon, Columbia University Medical Center (CUMC) is particularly well poised to offer this Fellowship experience. The NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital (NYPH), the Allen Pavilion Division of Geriatrics and Aging, and the Morgan Stanley Children's Hospital of New York (CHONY) have a long and distinguished history in clinical bioethics consultation. The unique focus on the ethics of translational research in this Fellowship draws upon CUMC's status as one of twenty-four centers nationally to be awarded a Clinical and Translational Science Award (CTSA) by the NIH. This award supports a comprehensive program of clinical and translational research, centered at the Irving Institute for Clinical and Translational Research (IICTR) at CUMC.

As an international leader in many different areas of medicine and clinical care, CUMC attracts some of the most fascinating and complicated medical cases from around the world. With complex medical cases come complex ethical dilemmas. CBETR Fellows will participate actively in this rich and stimulating environment, gaining expertise in both consultation and research issues.

The CBETR Fellowship will be based at the Columbia University Center for Bioethics, a leading department in bioethics education, research, and service at the University and at the national level. Highlighting the educational expertise at CUMC will be the resources of our broad-based, highly-active Ethics Consultation Services at the NYPH, the Allen Pavilion, and CHONY. Further notable resources are the many skilled members of the CTSA Regulatory Knowledge, Support, and Ethics Resource Consult Service, and the Ethics Committees of CUMC. Finally, Columbia University's world-class graduate schools and departments, including the Mailman School of Public Health, the Law School, and the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, will provide unmatched learning opportunities for Fellows.

The Fellows will benefit from their close association with many of the outstanding leaders in the fields of Clinical Bioethics and Translational Research. The Fellowship will be led by Executive Committee members including Drs. Ruth Fischbach, Paul Appelbaum, Henry Ginsberg, John Lorenz, and Kenneth Prager, as well as a Core Faculty of experts in their respective fields. Fellows will benefit from exposure to a panoply of rich, multi-disciplinary perspectives. Please visit Faculty Biographies to learn more about CBETR's Executive Committee and Core Faculty.


Over the course of the two-year Program, Fellows will gain skills and expertise in each of the following areas:

a. Clinical Ethics Consultation:

  • Fellows will learn a systematic approach to clinical consultation including ethical reasoning and analysis, clinical decision-making, and communication skills. Fellows will study regulatory and ethical aspects of clinical and translational research. This will include topics such as informed consent, study design, conflicts of interest, roles and responsibilities of research staff, and issues related to emerging areas of research. Fellows will sharpen clinical and research consultation skills, first by observing leading experts and later by providing the service independently.

b. Academic Courses:

  • During Year I, Fellows will complete course work in relevant academic disciplines including epidemiology, biostatistics, and the humanities and social sciences. These courses provide grounding in ethical theory and principles, medical humanism, and concepts of Bioethics. Courses in the School of Public Health provide knowledge in research design, biostatistics, and epidemiology, all necessary for the Fellows' own empirical work and for assisting clinical investigators.

    Fellows will complete the highly regarded two-semester Certificate Program in Bioethics and Medical Humanities sponsored by the Montefiore Medical Center, and directed by the esteemed Nancy Dubler, LLB. Completing this certificate program will distinguish the CBETR Fellows from participants in other programs.

    During Year 2, CBETR Fellows will take a humanities elective (e.g., History, Sociology, Religion) at the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, and the course Bioethics Mediation at Columbia Law School.

    Fellows will also have the opportunity to pursue online courses in regulatory knowledge and research ethics.

c. Empirical Research:

  • Fellows will collaborate with CBETR faculty on research projects such as improving the informed consent process, reducing therapeutic misconception, standardizing assessment of constraints on voluntariness, and increasing research subjects' understanding of conflicts of interest. A significant requirement of the CBETR Fellowship is the completion of an independent empirical research project, production of a manuscript for publication, and formal presentation at a University-wide seminar on their original research.

d. Additional Educational Opportunities:

  • The Fellows will also meet with each of the participating multi-disciplinary Core Faculty members to discuss the ethical, legal, and social issues that are endemic in their specialized fields of endeavor. Fellows will attend clinical seminars, Grand Rounds, IRB meetings, journal clubs, take part in relevant activities at CUMC, and attend and participate in national bioethics academic conferences, all designed to enhance their expertise.

    Experience in hospital settings: Each year, CBETR Fellows will spend nine months on the adult clinical and research services of Milstein Hospital. They will also have a two-month rotation in Pediatrics at CHONY and one month at the Allen Pavilion to provide a comprehensive, "hands-on" experience in Pediatrics and inner-city ethical issues and experience in Geriatric inpatient and nursing home settings. In addition, Fellows will make rounds with the Palliative Care Service, Transplant Service, and both observe and later serve as members of the CUMC and CHONY Ethics Committees.

e. Teaching:

  • In Year 2, CBETR Fellows will take on greater independent responsibilities, including leading activities aimed at educating medical, nursing, dental, and public health students, house staff and fellows, in addition to advising research personnel in clinical consultation and translational research issues.

Upon completion of the Fellowship's formal academic curriculum, Fellowship activities, and independent empirical research project, Fellows will be awarded a Certificate in Clinical Consultation and Translational Research from the Center for Bioethics at Columbia University.

Completion of the requirements for these certificate programs will add to CBETR Fellows' marketability and leadership qualifications for pioneering future advancements in clinical bioethics and translational research.

Please refer to the Fellowship Curriculum and Timeline of the CBETR Fellowship


CBETR Fellows will hold the title of "Postdoctoral Research Scientists," and will receive a salary comparable to other fellowships at Columbia, i.e., in a range of $55K-65K per year, commensurate with their years of experience. In addition, the costs of tuition for courses, health care, travel to meetings, computer, and library fees will be covered.


To ensure successful completion of the CBETR Fellowship, the following activities are required:

  1. A minimum of a B average in academic courses
  2. Successful completion of the Montefiore/Dubler Certificate Program
  3. Successful completion of the Bioethics Mediation Program
  4. Successful performance appraisal every six months by Drs. Kenneth Prager and John Lorenz (clinical consultation), Dr. Paul Appelbaum (research ethics), and Dr. Ruth Fischbach (education)
  5. Completion of an independent empirical research study
  6. Completion of a publishable manuscript
  7. Presentation at a national meeting (paper or poster) is desired

There will be a monthly meeting of the CBETR Fellowship's Executive Committee (Drs. Fischbach, Prager, Lorenz, and Appelbaum) to counsel and guide the Fellows, if necessary, and to evaluate and improve the progress of the Fellowship. The Committee will use the Fellows' Quarterly Reports to aid in evaluating the CBETR Fellowship.


Applicants must have obtained their doctoral degree (MD) and completed their residency by the Fellowship starting date. Preference is given to applicants with prior exposure to Clinical Bioethics and Translational Research including consultation, teaching, and human subjects research experience. The CBETR Fellowship is best suited to applicants with interdisciplinary research interests and a background in the humanities.

Applicants should submit materials electronically:

  1. A cover letter of not more than 500 words describing reasons for the applicant’s interest in the Fellowship, research experience, and why the applicant feels qualified for the Fellowship
  2. Completed Fellowship Application form
  3. Official transcripts from both undergraduate school and medical school
  4. Current curriculum vitae including list of any publications
  5. Two writing samples, including a brief professional writing sample, preferably in the form of a research proposal that the applicant would be interested in completing during the Fellowship
  6. Three letters of recommendation, at least one from a former or current
    faculty advisor or training director. Letters must be sent directly from supervisors and associates to the CBETR Fellowship Coordinator.

Completed applications must be received by January 31, 2008. A panel composed of Core Faculty will review the applications. The CBETR Fellowship's Executive Committee (Drs. Fischbach, Appelbaum, Lorenz, and Prager) will personally interview the most highly qualified applicants.


Sydney Kinnear
CBETR Fellowship Coordinator
Email: sk2482@columbia.edu


For more information, please contact Dr. Ruth Fischbach, PhD, MPE, Fellowship Director, at 212-305-8387 or email rf416@columbia.edu.

See also the Center for Bioethics website at http://bioethicscolumbia.org.