Ruth Fischbach, PhD

  • Professor of Bioethics (in Psychiatry and Sociomedical Sciences) at CUMC

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Ruth Fischbach joined Columbia University in 2001 as Professor of Bioethics in both in the Department of Psychiatry and Department of Sociomedical Sciences at the Mailman School of Public Health. She is Co-founder and Director of the Center for Bioethics since 2002.

Prior to Columbia, from 1998 to 2001 Dr. Fischbach served as Senior Advisor for Biomedical Ethics at the NIH. Here she participated in federal interagency committees designed to protect the rights and promote the welfare of research participants. She received an Award of Merit for efforts in establishing the Tuskegee Center for Bioethics.

Preceding the NIH, from 1990 to 1998 Dr. Fischbach was a professor at Harvard Medical School in the Department of Social Medicine and Division of Medical Ethics. Earlier, at Washington University School of Medicine from 1983 to 1990, she served first as an NRSA postdoctoral fellow in psychiatric epidemiology earning a master's degree in that field. Later her interests turned to medical ethics, as she directed the Ethics Program, founded the Humanities in Medicine Program, and served as an Assistant Dean.

Dr. Fischbach's research interests and publications have focused on end of life decisions and experiences of research participants, particularly related to privacy and informed consent. Current work focuses on research ethics and issues in bioethics including neuroethics, genetics, advances in reproductive technology, and stem cell research. Recently, she's been researching the impact on families of stigma associated with autism.

Awards and honors include Distinguished Leader status for PRIM&R (Public Responsibility in Medicine and Research); Excellence in Teaching Award (Year III, Teacher of the Year) at Harvard Medical School; Distinguished Alumna Award from Cornell University-NY Hospital School of Nursing; Fellow in Medicine of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS);two terms as Member-at-Large of AAAS Section X (Societal Impacts of Science and Engineering); and Gold Foundation Humanism Honor Society.

Academic Appointments

  • Professor of Bioethics (in Psychiatry and Sociomedical Sciences) at CUMC


  • Female


Research interests focus on neuroethics, research ethics, and assisted reproductive technologies. The focus of current research is on the impact of autism spectrum disorder on the child and the family with a particular interest on the causes and consequences of stigma that is associated with autism.

Research Interests

  • Neuroethics
  • Reproductive Technologies
  • Research ethics

Selected Publications

  • Fischbach, RL and Mindes, J. : Why Neuroethicists are needed. , Oxford University Press, Oxford, , England, 2011
  • Fischbach RL, Harris M, Ballan M, Fischbach G, Link B. : Is there concordance in attitudes and beliefs between parents and scientists about Autism Spectrum Disorder?. Autism: the international journal of research and practice 2015;May: pii: 1362361315585310
  • Fischbach, RL, Benston S, Loike, JD. : Creating a Three-Parent Child: An Educational Paradigm for the Responsible Conduct of Research. Journal of Microbiology and Biology Education Dec. 15, 2014; 15(2): 186-190
  • Loike J, Gillick M, Mayer S, Prager K, Simon J, Steinberg A, Tendler M, Willig M, and Fischbach R. : The critical role of religion: Caring for the dying patient from an Orthodox Jewish Perspective.. Journal of Palliative Medicine 2010;13(10): 1267-1271
  • Fischbach GD, Fischbach RL: Stem cells: Science, policy, and ethics. The Journal of Clinical Investigation 2004 ;114(10):: 1364-1370