Our history

How the Institute started

The Institute of Medical Ethics (IME) was founded in 1972 as the Society for the Study of Medical Ethics. It derived from the London Medical Group and similar independent groups in all the British centres of medical education, founded by The Very Revd Edward Shotter.

From 1963 to 1989, these groups sponsored the extracurricular study of issues raised by the practice of medicine which concern other disciplines, such as the law, moral philosophy, moral theology and the social sciences, in programmes of lectures and symposia on topics identified by students of medicine, nursing and allied disciplines.

The report of the Institute’s working party on the teaching of medical ethics, chaired by Sir Desmond Pond, was influential in the decision in 1989 to include ethics in the undergraduate medical curriculum. The IME has recently conducted a major project to facilitate learning, teaching and assessing medical ethics in a three-year programme involving the principal stakeholders.



IME research

IME research derived from the Edinburgh Medical Group’s research project in medical ethics and education which, in conjunction with the University of Edinburgh and with external funding, published reports on the ethics of terminal care and resource allocation.

Subsequent IME reports covered clinical research investigation on children, consensus in medical ethics, research on animals, nursing ethics, ethical aspects of HIV/AIDS, and the ethics of prolonging life and assisting death. The IME also collaborated in two Scottish Office funded studies, in the University of Edinburgh, of neonatal units in Scotland, with reports on doctors’ and nurses’ reflection on neonatal practice and parents’ experience of treatment withdrawal from infants.



Association with the Journal of Medical Ethics

The Journal of Medical Ethics was founded by the Institute in 1975. Published monthly, it has become a leading international journal that reflects the whole field of medical ethics. The journal aims to encourage a high academic standard for this ever-developing subject and the enhancement of professional and public discussion. It is co-owned by IME and BMJ Publishing Group Ltd.

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Key IME personnel

Find out more about the IME's people