The Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues (Bioethics Commission) released the first of its two-part response to President Obama’s request that the commission identify a set of ethical standards related to the Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies (BRAIN) Initiative.

Gray Matters: Integrative Approaches for Neuroscience, Ethics, and Society includes the following four recommendations for institutions and individuals engaged in neuroscience research, including government agencies and other funders.

  1. Integrate ethics early and explicitly throughout research.
  2. Evaluate existing and innovative approaches to ethics integration.
  3. Integrate ethics and science through education at all levels.
  4. Explicitly include ethical perspectives on advisory and review bodies.

“Because research on our brains strikes at the very core of who we are, the ethical stakes of neuroscience research could not be higher,” said Bioethics Commission Chair Amy Gutmann in a press release. “Ethicists and scientists should be together at the table in the earliest stages of research planning fostering a fluent two-way conversation.”

To ensure this collaboration is successful, adequate funding of scientific research is essential, according to the report. Without sufficient funds, the scientific community may believe it reflects “a lack of political will for substantive engagement with ethical issues.”

The commission will hold two more meetings before releasing its second report, which will focus on providing a road map for incorporating the four recommendations made in the report.