President’s Council on Bioethics

The President’s Council on Bioethics (PCBE) was appointed in November of 2001 by an executive order from former US-President George W. Bush to advice the president on advances and issues in biomedical sciences and biotechnologies. It replaced the National Bioethics Advisory Commission (NBAC) established by Bill Clinton in 1995. With this, the PCBE continues a tradition of national committees acting as an advisor in terms of biomedical questions since the 1970s. The PCBE comprises 18 members, all of whom were directly appointed by the president. The members represent a broad spectrum of scientific and philosophical backgrounds, including bioethics, medicine, neurosciences and psychology, as well as law. The council published reports and statements on the topics of stem cell research, reproductive medicine, cloning, enhancement, nursing and euthanasia. According to the executive order, the goal of the reports is to give a comprehensive overview over the often times complex and opposing positions, rather than to give a uniform standpoint in the debates.

In 2009, President Obama replaced the PCBE with the Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues, a body focused on practical politics advice. After the PCBE’s mandate had expired in 2017, no subsequent commission was formed.

Archived website of the PCBE Online Version 

Executive order to appoint the PCBE Online Version 

The report on the determination of death can be found at:

Controversies in the Determination of Death. A White Paper by the President's Council on Bioethics, December 2008 Online Version 

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