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Charles Weijer

Department of Medicine
Department of Epidemiology & Biostatistics
Department of Philosophy
Western University

Charles Weijer is a bioethicist and an internationally recognized expert in research ethics. His publications on the duty of care in clinical research, the ethical analysis of study benefits and harms, and empowering communities in research have been broadly influential.


From 2008 to 2013, Dr. Weijer co-led a collaboration that produced the first international ethics guidelines for cluster randomized trials. From 2014 to 2018 he collaborated with Dr. Adrian M. Owen on a project exploring the ethics of functional neuroimaging after severe brain injury. Dr. Weijer led the writing team for the World Health Organization’s guidance on “Ethical Considerations for Health Policy and Systems Research,” published in 2019. In 2020, he served on the WHO Working Group for Guidance on Human Challenge Studies in COVID-19.


Charles’ current work explores the ethics of cluster randomized trials with a focus on the ethical challenges raised by stepped wedge and crossover designs, research in low-resource settings, and pragmatism. He leads a team of 31 ethicists, biostatisticians, trialists, and patient partners from Africa, Europe, North America, and South America who will update ethical guidance for cluster randomized trials.


Charles is also working with Dr. Marat Slessarev and an interdisciplinary team to explore the ethics of research involving imminently dying patients, and ethical issues in organ donation, including the use of normothermic regional perfusion.


Charles held the Tier 1 Canada Research Chair in Bioethics from 2005 to 2019. In 2014, he received Western’s Hellmuth Prize for Achievement in Research, and, in 2016, he was elected to the Royal Society of Canada.

About me: Intro

Selected Publications

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.

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, Bruni T, Gofton T, Young GB, Norton L, Peterson A, Owen AM. Ethical considerations in functional magnetic resonance imaging research in acutely comatose patients. Brain 2016; 139(Pt 1): 292-299.


Weijer C, Goldstein CE, Taljaard M. TwiC or treat? Are Trials within Cohorts ethically defensible? Clinical Trials 2018; 15(1): 21-24.

Mtande TK, Weijer C, Hosseinipour MC, Taljaard M, Matoga M, Goldstein CE, Nyambalo B, Rosenberg NE. Ethical issues raised by cluster randomised trials conducted in low-resource settings: identifying gaps in the Ottawa Statement through an analysis of the PURE Malawi trial. Journal of Medical Ethics 2019; 45(6): 388-393.

Weijer C, Taljaard M. Ottawa Statement does not impede randomised evaluation of government health programmes. Journal of Medical Ethics 2020; 46(1): 31-33.

McPartlin SO, Morrison J, Rohrig A, Weijer C. Covid-19 vaccines: Should we allow human challenge studies to infect healthy volunteers with SARS-CoV-2? British Medical Journal 2020; 371: m4258.

Weijer C, Hemming K, Phillips Hey S, Fernandez Lynch H. Reopening schools safely in the face of COVID-19: Can cluster randomized trials help? Clinical Trials 2021; 18(3): 371-376.

Nix HP, Weijer C, Brehaut JC, Forster D, Goldstein CE, Taljaard M. Informed consent in cluster randomised trials: a guide for the perplexed. BMJ Open 2021; 11(9): e054213.


Nix HP, Largent EA, Taljaard M, Mitchell SL, Weijer C. Ethical analysis of vulnerabilities in cluster randomized trials involving people living with dementia in long-term care homes. JAGS: Journal of the American Geriatric Society 2023; 71(2): 588-598.

Murphy N, Weijer C, Debicki D, Laforge G, Norton L, Gofton T, Slessarev M. Ethics of non-therapeutic research on imminently dying patients in the intensive care unit. Journal of Medical Ethics 2023; 49(5): 311-318.

Rid A, Feld JJ, Liang TJ, Weijer C. Ethics of controlled human infection studies with hepatitis C virus. Clinical Infectious Diseases 2023; 77(Supplement_3): S216-S223. 

About me: Body
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