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Associate Professor Mark Sheehan

Associate Professor Mark Sheehan

Overview of Ethics - Irish Citizens' Assembly

Q & A - Irish Citizens' Assembly

Oxford NIHR Biomedical Research Centre Public Lecture: Why Do PPI?

Should you involve patients and the public in research? Is it important for society to ensure patients and the public are involved in research at all or some of the stages in the research process?

Mark Sheehan

BA (Hons), MA (Hons)/BSc, PhD

Oxford Biomedical Research Centre Ethics Fellow

  • Associate Professor
  • Deputy Director of Graduate Studies (NDPH)
  • Research Fellow, Uehiro Centre for Practical Ethics, Faculty of Philosophy

Mark Sheehan is Oxford Biomedical Research Centre (BRC) Ethics Fellow at the Ethox Centre.


His current research projects encompass a range of overlapping issues that arise in the context of population-level health research and governance and public health ethics. His current projects include:

Population-level health research:

  • The nature and role of research ethics governance
  • Consent and governance in population level research
  • Trust and trustworthiness in the context of (i) healthcare and commercial healthcare institutions and (ii) public attitudes research
  • The nature and justification of patient and public involvement in research and healthcare policy making

Public health ethics:

  • The ethics of public health food policy interventions: taxes, bans and choice architectures
  • The social and commercial determinants of health in policy and advertising
  • Public mental health ethics
  • The ethics of data use in the context of a public health model of policing
  • The ethics of healthcare resource allocation with particular attention to treatments for rare diseases and the process of decision-making

He has an on-going interest in methodology in ethics and bioethics which focusses on: (i) qualitative methodologies and their relationship to ethics and ethical claims; and (ii) the nature and force of ethical arguments in practical contexts. Being close to practice and being involved in policy-making processes is ideal for understanding the way arguments and evidence function. These contexts provide a perfect environment for thinking about qualitative methods and their relationship to ethical, social, and political claims.

As BRC Ethics Fellow, Mark is involved in Research Ethics and Governance as well as Patient and Public Involvement (PPI) across the Oxford NIHR BRC themes. This involvement includes discussions with researchers about research ethics issues in their work, collaborating on research proposals with ethical components and conducting research on issues in research ethics, ethics generally and PPI that engage with the research themes within the BRC.

He has published in a broad range of bioethics and medical journals such as the Journal of Applied Philosophy, the Journal of Medical Ethics, the Cambridge Quarterly on Healthcare Ethics, the British Medical Journal, and the American Journal of Bioethics. With colleagues from the Centre for Professional Ethics at Keele University, he wrote an EU-funded textbook on research ethics (which can be downloaded from here)


He is a National Research Ethics Advisor for the National Research Ethics Service and a member of the Ethics Review Advisory Group for the Heath Research Authority’s Think Ethics Programme. He is a long-standing member of NICE’s Highly Specialised Technology Evaluation Committee and has been a member and previous vice chair of the Thames Valley Priorities Forum since 2008. He is Clinical Ethics Lead for Buckinghamshire NHS Trust and Ethics Advisor and Chair of the Data Ethics Committee, Thames Valley and Hampshire Police Violence Reduction Unit.

He has been an Associate Editor of the Journal of Medical Ethics, was a member of the Nuffield Council on Bioethics Working Group on research in children and a co-leader of the Ethical Analysis of Key Concepts GECiP sub-domain for the 100K Genome Project and was recently a member and. He is also a member of the Thames Valley Priorities Committee in the NHS.


Mark teaches and has developed, led, and taught on a very large range of courses in ethics, research ethics, public health ethics and clinical ethics across the University as well as nationally and internationally. These courses have very often been aimed at practitioners and researchers as well as undergraduate and graduate students. He currently teaches Public Health Ethics to medical students and also leads a series of Public Health Ethics Masterclasses for trainee Public Health consultants.

He leads Modules on the MSc in Practical Ethics and the MSc in Translational Health Sciences. He has recently taken up the role of Deputy Director of graduate Studies at Oxford Population Health.

Prior to coming to Oxford, he was a lecturer in the Centre for Professional Ethics at Keele University, Ethics Fellow at the Mt. Sinai Medical School, New York, and Adjunct Lecturer in the Philosophy Department at The City College of New York.


He received his PhD in Philosophy from The City University of New York, where his PhD thesis was on the nature of moral judgements. Prior to his PhD, he received an MA (Hons) and a BA (Hons)/BSc from the University of Melbourne.

Recent publications

More publications

Good to share? Data, research, privacy and the NHS

A video of an hour-long debate on issues around mass sharing of patient data to support research and improve patient care can now be viewed online. “Good to share? Data, research, privacy and the NHS” was held as part of the NIHR Oxford Biomedical Research Centre’s Public Open Day – Celebrating Biomedical Research on April 21 at the John Radcliffe Hospital. The mediated debate featured Professor Martin Landray, Deputy Director of the University of Oxford’s Big Data Institute; Carol Moore, Head of Projects, Healthwatch Oxfordshire and Professor Jim Davies, Professor of Software Engineering, University of Oxford, Frederica Lucivero, Marie Curie Research Fellow, King’s College London and Chair Dr Mark Sheehan, Oxford Biomedical Research Centre (BRC) Ethics Fellow at the Ethox Centre and a Research Fellow at the Uehiro Centre for Practical Ethics.

Who cares about research integrity?

(audio file)