Neuroethics Working Group

What is Neuroethics?

drawing of a brain with two colored sides

  • Neuroethics is a field that studies the ethical, legal, and societal implications of neuroscience. 
  • The strategic plan for the NIH BRAIN Initiative, BRAIN 2025: A Scientific Vision, emphasizes: “Although brain research entails ethical issues that are common to other areas of biomedical science, it entails special ethical considerations as well. Because the brain gives rise to consciousness, our innermost thoughts and our most basic human needs, mechanistic studies of the brain have already resulted in new social and ethical questions.” Neuroethics can help address these questions.

What is the NIH BRAIN Initiative’s Neuroethics Working Group (NEWG)?

  • The NEWG is a group of experts in neuroethics and neuroscience that serves to provide the NIH BRAIN Initiative with input relating to neuroethics. The group was formed in the summer of 2015.
  • The NEWG is one part of the neuroethics efforts of the NIH BRAIN Initiative. 

What does the Neuroethics Working Group do?

  • Identify ethical challenges in the development and/or application of BRAIN Initiative-funded tools and technologies.
  • Anticipate ethical challenges in proposed areas of BRAIN Initiative funding.
  • Provide input on ways the BRAIN Initiative could navigate these neuroethics challenges.
  • Provide ethics consultation to researchers funded by the BRAIN Initiative, when appropriate. 
  • Identify neuroethics research questions important to the BRAIN Initiative that could be addressed through focused Funding Opportunity Announcements  
  • Publish guidance on key ethical challenges associated with BRAIN Initiative-funded research.


  • Co-chair Christine Grady, MSN, PhD, Chief, NIH Department of Bioethics
  • Co-chair Hank Greely, JD, Stanford Law School (MCWG member)
  • Winston Chiong, MD, PhD, University of California, San Francisco
  • James Eberwine, PhD, University of Pennsylvania (MCWG member)
  • Nita Farahany, JD, PhD, Duke School of Law
  • L. Syd M Johnson, PhD,  SUNY Upstate Medical University
  • Steve Hyman, MD, Broad Institute
  • Karen Rommelfanger, PhD, Emory University
  • Elba Serrano, PhD, New Mexico State University (MCWG member)
  • Khara Ramos, PhD, NINDS – Neuroethics Working Group Executive Secretary and NIH liaison

Upcoming Meetings

  • The eleventh meeting of the NEWG will be on Tuesday, January 26, 2021. Videocast will be available.
  • The twelfth meeting of the NEWG will be on Thursday, August 19, 2021. Videocast will be available.



Research with Human Neural Tissue (March 2018)

Picture of Neurons



Ethical Issues in Research with Invasive and Non-Invasive Neural Devices in Humans (October 2017)

Picture of BRAIN

  • Considered ethical issues and practical approaches specific to research with invasive and non-invasive neural devices. After a brief overview of the state of the science with neural devices three specific ethical challenges were discussed: the analysis of risk and invasiveness, challenges in informed consent, and post-trial responsibilities. 
  • Goal: to draft points to consider on these topics for investigators, IRB members, and BRAIN Initiative program officers, as well as to identify areas where more research and guidance is needed. 
  • Organized by The NIH Clinical Center Department of Bioethics in association with the Neuroethics Working Group of the Multi-Council Working Group of the NIH BRAIN Initiative
  • Agenda (PDF - 380KB)
  • Archived video of the workshop



Related Publications   Related Resources


Previous Meetings

The tenth meeting of the Neuroethics Working Group occurred virtually on Thursday, August 20, 2020.

The ninth meeting of the Neuroethics Working Group occurred on Thursday, January 30th  in Bethesda, MD.

The eighth meeting of the Neuroethics Working Group occurred on Monday, August 19th in Bethesda, MD. 

The seventh meeting of the Neuroethics Working Group occurred on Monday, February 11th in Bethesda, MD. 

The sixth meeting of the Neuroethics Working Group (formerly Neuroethics Division) occurred Monday, August 13th at the Porter Neuroscience Building on the NIH campus. 

The fifth meeting of the MCWG Neuroethics Division occurred Friday, January 19th, 2018, and will be hosted by our co-chair Hank Greely at Stanford. 

The fourth meeting of the MCWG Neuroethics Division occurred Wednesday, August 16th, 2017, in Building 31 6C/Room 6. 

The third meeting of the MCWG Neuroethics Division occurred on Tuesday, February 14th, 2017, at the NIH Porter Neuroscience Research Center (35 Convent Dr., Bethesda, MD 20892).

The second meeting of the Neuroethics Division occurred on Wednesday, August 3rd, 2016, at 815 14th Street NW, Washington, DC. 

The first meeting of the Neuroethics Division occurred on Tuesday, February 9th, 2016, at 6001 Executive Boulevard, Rockville, MD.