NIH Clinical Center Senior Staff

David S. Wendler, MA, PhD


Dr. David Wendler's current work focuses on the ethics of research and care 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 is an attending on the Bioethics Consultation Service and a member of the IRB for the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

Actively sought out as a consultant and scholar, he has consulted 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 at the 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.

Dr. Wendler earned 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. He was named a senior investigator in 2014 and became head of the section on Research Ethics.

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


Danis M, Largent E, Wendler D, Hull SC, Shah S, Millum J, Berkman B, Grady C. Research Ethics Consultation: A Casebook. Oxford University Press 2012.

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, Rid A. Genetic research on biospecimens poses minimal risk. Trends in Genetics 2015; 31:11-15.

Dal-Ré R, Ndebele P, Higgs E, Sewankambo N, Wendler D. Protections for clinical trials in low and middle income countries need strengthening not weakening. British Medical Journal 2014; 349:g4254.

Wendler D, Abdoler E, Wiener L, Grady C. Views of adolescents and parents on pediatric research without the potential for clinical benefit. Pediatrics 2012; 130:692-699.

Rulli T, Emanuel EJ, Wendler D. The moral duty to buy health insurance. JAMA 2012; 308:137-138.

Wendler D. A new justification for pediatric research without the potential for clinical benefit. American Journal of Bioethics 2012; 12:23-31.

Lantos J, Matlock AM, Wendler D. Clinician integrity and limits to patient autonomy. JAMA 2011; 305:495-499.

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.