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Senior Staff

David S. Wendler, MA, PhD
Head, Unit on Vulnerable Populations
Department of Bioethics

Academic Degrees
BA, University of Pennsylvania
MA, University of Wisconsin at Madison
PhD, University of Wisconsin at Madison


Phone: 301-435-8726

Portrait of David Wendler


Dr. David Wendler's current research focuses on the ethics of clinical research with individuals who are unable to provide informed consent. He has written widely on such topics as assent in pediatric research, assessing research risks systematically, research with stored biological samples, and protecting communities in biomedical research from exploitation.

Dr. Wendler coordinates the CC's advance directives program and is a member of the Bioethics Consult Service and the IRB of the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

Actively sought out as a consultant and scholar, he has been a consultant on minimal risk for the Secretary's Advisory Committee on Human Research Protections, on research with wards of the state for the Division of AIDS of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, and pediatric research for the Institute of Medicine. He also has been a visiting scholar in the Department of Bioethics, University of Virginia, and has lectured at the University of Bergen's School of Medicine in Norway, Georgetown University, and at the University of Wisconsin at Madison.

Earning his bachelor's degree at the University of Pennsylvania and his master's and doctoral degrees at the University of Wisconsin at Madison. He came to NIH in 1993 as a postdoctoral fellow with the Clinical Bioethics Program and became head of the Unit on Vulnerable Populations in 1996. He was a University fellow in Ethics at Harvard University from 2006 to 2007.

Selected Honors and Awards

NIH Clinical Center Director's Award for Teaching/Training, 2009; Award for Excellence in Human Research Protection, 2007; NIDA Special Service Award, 2006; NIH Clinical Center Director's Award, 2005; NIH Mentoring Award, 2005; NIH Clinical Center Special Service Award, 2001; NIH Clinical Center Special Recognition Award, 1998; NIAID Clinical Service Award, 1997; NIH Excellence in Research Ethics, 1996; NIH Citation for Education in Ethics, 1995; NIH Citation for Clinical Ethics, 1994; WARF Dissertation Fellowship, 1991; Outstanding Teaching Award, 1990

Selected Publications


Wendler D. The Ethics of Pediatric Research, Oxford University Press, 2010.

Emanuel E, Crouch R, Grady C, Lie R, Miller F, Wendler D. The Oxford Textbook of Research Ethics. Oxford University Press, 2008.


Wendler D. How to enroll participants in research ethically. JAMA 2011; 305:1587-1588.

Wendler D, Rid A. The effect on surrogates of making treatment decisions for others. Annals of Internal Medicine 2011; 154:336-346.

Wendler D, Abdoler E. Does it matter whether investigators intend to benefit research subjects? Kennedy Institute of Ethics Journal 2010; 20:353-370.

Rid A, Emanuel E, Wendler D. Evaluating the risks of clinical research. JAMA 2010; 304:1472-1479.

Wendler D. Are physicians obligated always to act in the patient's best interests? Journal of Medical Ethics 2010; 36:66-70.

Dickert N, Wendler D. Ancillary care obligations of medical researchers. JAMA 2009; 302:424-428.

Wendler D. Minimal risk in pediatric research as a function of age. Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine 2009; 163:115-118.

Wendler D, Jenkins T. Facing research risks for the benefit of others: the views of children and their parents. Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine 2008; 162:9-14.

Shalowitz D, Garrett-Mayer E, Wendler D. How should we make treatment decisions for incapacitated patients, and why? PLoS Medicine. 2007; 4:e35.

Wendler D, Varma S. Minimal risk in pediatric research. Journal of Pediatrics 2006; 149:855-861.

Wendler D. One-Time General Consent for Research on Biological Samples. British Medical Journal 2006; 332:544-547.

Wendler D, Kington R, Madans J, Van Wye Heidi G, Christ-Schmidt H, Pratt LA, Brawley OW, Gross CP, Emanuel EJ. Are racial and ethnic minorities less willing to participate in health research? PLoS Medicine 2006; 3:e19.

This page last reviewed on 09/2/11

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