Charles Weijer


Professor - Canada Research Chair in Bioethics
Joint Appointment with Department of Medicine
Cross Appointment with Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics
Member, Rotman Institute of Philosophy

Bioethics, Research Ethics
BMdSc, MD Alberta; BA (Hons) MSc, PhD McGill

Phone: 519-661-2111 ext. 80090
Office: Western Interdisciplinary Research Building (WIRB), Room 7160
Website: Rotman Institue of Philosophy

My research interests are in bioethics and research ethics. Much of my work explores the ethics of randomized controlled trials (RCTs) in health. The physician has a duty of care to her patient that requires that she act and advise to protect and promote the patient’s health. Given this obligation, how can the physician ethically enroll her patient in an RCT in which the patient is allocated randomly to one of two or more treatments? I have written about Charles Fried and Benjamin Freedman’s solutions to this problem. In my own work, I explore the role of trust relationships involving the state, physician-researchers and patients in addressing the problem.

I also work on ethical and epistemic issues raised by innovative RCT designs. I have written about cluster RCTs, which randomize groups—such as nursing homes, hospitals or communities—rather than individuals, to interventions. Recently, I co-led a research team that produced the first ethical guidelines for cluster RCTs. I am currently funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (2017-2021) to explore the ethics of pragmatic RCTs, which seek to inform patients, health providers and health system managers by evaluating treatments in real-world conditions.

 I am available to supervise students in bioethics and research ethics. Working with me, students will receive training in philosophical and interdisciplinary research, and they will have the opportunity to participate in an international research team comprising philosophers, biostatisticians and trialists.

Recent Publications

Campbell MK, Weijer C, Goldstein CE, Edwards SJL. Do doctors have a duty to take part in pragmatic randomised trials? British Medical Journal 2017; 357: j2817.

 Hemming K, Eldridge S, Forbes G, Weijer C, Taljaard M. How to design efficient cluster randomised trials. British Medical Journal 2017; 358: j3064.

Bambery B, Selgelid M, Weijer C, Savulsecu J, Pollard A. Ethical criteria for human challenge studies in infectious diseases. Public Health Ethics 2016; 9(1): 92-103.

Hey SP, Weijer C. What questions can a placebo help answer? Monash Bioethics Review 2016; 34(1): 23-36.

Weijer C, Miller PB, Graham M. The duty of care and equipoise in randomized controlled trials. In: Arras JD, Kukla R, Fenton E (eds.). Routledge Companion to Bioethics. Routledge: New York, 2015: pp. 200–214.

Taljaard M, Weijer C, Grimshaw JM, Eccles MP and the Ottawa Ethics of Cluster Randomized Trials Consensus Group. The Ottawa Statement on the Ethical Design and Conduct of Cluster Randomised Trials: A précis for researchers and research ethics committees. British Medical Journal 2013; 346: f2838.

Weijer C, Grimshaw JM, Eccles MP, McRae AD, White A, Brehaut JC, Taljaard M and the Ottawa Ethics of Cluster Randomized Trials Consensus Group. The Ottawa Statement on the Ethical Design and Conduct of Cluster Randomized Trials. PLoS Medicine 2012; 9(11): e1001346.

Weijer C, Grimshaw JM, Taljaard M, Binik A, Boruch R, Brehaut JC, Donner A, Eccles MP, Gallo A, McRae AD, Saginur R, Zwarenstein M. Ethical issues posed by cluster randomized trials in health research. Trials 2011; 12: 100.