Arlene Davis, JD, BN is the new Director of the UNC Center for Bioethics. She is an Associate Professor in the Department of Social Medicine; Director of the Clinical Ethics Service; and an Adjunct Associate Professor in the UNC Departments of Pediatrics and Psychiatry, and in the UNC School of Law
Since 1996, Davis has been co-investigator on a series of grants from NHGRI’s ELSI Program, including an historical, ethical, and legal analysis and reevaluation of policy where she focused on the federal regulatory framework of human subjects protection and the case law of informed consent, and a six-year study examining understandings of benefit and of vulnerable adult and pediatric populations enrolled in early phase gene transfer research. More recently, as an investigator in the Center for Genomics and Society, she conducted research regarding the creation, understanding, and dissemination of genetic information through genetic screening and biobanking. Currently, as an extension of this prior ELSI work in gene transfer and in genetic screening, Davis is an investigator on an ELSI project that examines the implications of gene editing where prevention and treatment modalities may raise issues of enhancement.
In other research, Davis has worked collaboratively with interdisciplinary teams. Products of these collaborations include efforts to: examine ethical issues in research on the newly dead, create simulation modules for use in assessing required professionalism milestones within residency programs, elucidate how the emotional labor of treating teams affects their moral understanding in complex cases, identify practice implications for critically ill patients when surrogate decision-makers have not been properly identified, and more recently, to compare hospital visitor policies in the setting of pandemics in order to offer recommendations for ethical policy development and implementation. In legal research and in conjunction with the School of Government, she co-directed a 10-year project examining the legal issues facing pregnant and parenting adolescents in North Carolina, an effort that produced four widely distributed legal guides, maintains an active web site, and informed North Carolina law regarding pregnant and parenting teens. She has also served as an IRB member and consultant to the Research Triangle Institute International’s IRB for over 20 years. Davis has also been a faculty member in the Translational and Clinical Sciences (TraCS) Institute, funded by the NIH to effectively translate scientific discoveries into health improvements, and continues to offer research ethics consultation in collaboration with other Center for Bioethics core faculty.