Center for Ethics and Humanities
in the Life Sciences

College of Human Medicine



Thomas Tomlinson

Tom Tomlinson photo


Center for Ethics and Humanities in the Life Sciences

C-223 East Fee Hall
(517) 355-1634
tom.tomlinson @

PhD 1980 Michigan State University
BS 1971 Michigan State University

Curriculum Vitae
MSU Scholars Profile
Research Gate Profile


Tom Tomlinson's current projects include an examination of public attitudes toward protection of non-welfare interests in research uses of archived biological samples, and a look at the ethics of macabre humor in medicine, tentatively titled “Dark Humor: When to Laugh, When to Wince.”

Other recent research interests include the use of incentives to recruit research participants, the obligations of health professionals to provide care to patients with deadly infectious diseases; and the use of futility judgments in decisions about dialysis.

Selected Publications


Tomlinson T, De Vries R, Ryan K, Kim HM, Lehpamer N, Kim SYH. Moral Concerns and the Willingness to Donate to a Research Biobank. Journal of the American Medical Association. January 27 2015;313(4):417-419.



Tomlinson, T. (2013). Respecting Donors to Biobank Research. Hastings Center Report, 43(1), 41-47. 10.1002/hast.115.

Methods in Medical Ethics: Critical Perspectives. New York, NY: Oxford University Press; 2012.

When Is It Ethical to Withhold a Research Incentive? IRB: Ethics & Human Research. 2011: 33 (6).

Protection of Non-Welfare Interests in the Research Uses of Archived Biological Samples. In: Dierickx K, Borry P, eds. New Challenges for Biobanks: Ethics, Law and Governance. Belgium: Intersentia; 2009: 99-110.

Caring for Risky Patients: Duty or Virtue? J Med Ethics. 2008: 34: 458-462.

Futility beyond CPR: the case of dialysis. HEC Forum. 2007: 19(1): 33-43.

Ethical Issues. In: Kuebler KK, Davis MP, Moore CD, eds. Palliative Practices: An Interdisciplinary Approach. St. Louis: Elsevier-Mosby; 2005.

Selected Achievements and Awards

Distinguished Faculty Award, College of Human Medicine, 2011.

Ethics and Public Attitudes Toward the Research Uses of Archived Biological Specimens. R21 HG005756. 2010-12. National Human Genome Research Institute, NIH.

Training for Scholarship in Research Ethics. R25 TW007087. 2004-2008. Fogarty International Center, NIH

Reviewer: Hastings Center Report, New England Journal of Medicine, Annals of Internal Medicine, Journal of the American Medical Association, Journal of Medicine and Philosophy, Journal of Medical Humanities and Bioethics, Journal of Clinical Ethics, Temple University Press, C.V. Mosby Publishing, Oxford University Press, Joint Commission Journal on Quality and Patient Safety.

Treasurer, Association of Bioethics Program Directors