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Charles Weijer

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

Charles Weijer is a leading expert on the ethics of randomized controlled trials. 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 Charles 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. Charles’ current work explores ethical issues in pragmatic randomized controlled trials that evaluate health interventions in real-world conditions to better inform patients, health providers and health systems managers. This project, funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, brings together a research team comprising philosophers, biostatisticians and trialists from five countries. Charles led the writing team for the World Health Organization 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 held the Canada Research Chair in Bioethics from 2005 to 2019. In 2008, Charles worked with philanthropist Dr. Joseph Rotman to found the Rotman Institute of Philosophy, which is dedicated to fostering collaboration between the humanities and the sciences, and served as the Institute’s first director. 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.


Hey SP, Weijer C, Taljaard M, Kesselheim AS. Research ethics for emerging trial designs: does equipoise need to adapt? British Medical Journal; 2018; 360: k226.


Goldstein CE, Giraudeau B, Weijer C, Taljaard M. When and how should we cluster and cross over: methodological and ethical issues. Canadian Journal of Anaesthesia 2018; 65(7): 760-765.


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.


Goldstein CE, Weijer C, Taljaard M, Al-Jaishi AA, Basile E, Brehaut J, Cook CL, Grimshaw JM, Lacson E Jr, Lindsay C, Jardine M, Dember LM, Garg AX. Ethical issues in pragmatic cluster randomized trials in dialysis facilities. American Journal of Kidney Diseases 2019; 74(5): 659-666.


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


Beard DJ, Campbell MK, Blazeby JM, Carr AJ, Weijer C, Cuthbertson B, Buchbinder R, Pinkney T, Bishop F, Pugh J, Cousins S, Harris I, Lohmander S, Blencowe N, Gillies K, Probst P, Brennan C, Cook A, Farrah-Hockley D, Savulescu J, Huxtable R, Rangan A, Tracey I, Brocklehurst P, Ferreira M, Nicholl J, Reeves B, Hardy F, Rowley S, Cook JA. Considerations and methods for placebo controls in surgical trials: state of the art review and ASPIRE guidance. The Lancet 2020; 395(10226): 828-838.

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.

About me: Body
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