Thomas Tomlinson

Tom Tomlinson photo


Professor Emeritus

Center for Bioethics and Social Justice

Department of Philosophy

Director, Center for Bioethics and Social Justice, 2000-2018

tomlins4 @

PhD 1980 Michigan State University
MA 1975 Michigan State University
BS 1971 Michigan State University

Curriculum Vitae
MSU Scholars Profile
Research Gate Profile


Tom Tomlinson's recent projects include an examination of public attitudes toward the use of blanket consent to authorize future research uses of clinical or research specimens and data without further consent; appropriation of deidentified specimens and health information collected during medical care for research without consent; and a critique of patients’ “right not to know” their terminal prognosis.

Other current research interests include ethical questions raised by the use of “smart pills” that report patients medical condition and compliance to treatment; the ethical and social impacts of artificial intelligence in the delivery of care to patients; and the ethical and social impact of the drive to indefinitely extend the human life span.

Selected Publications

Tomlinson T. Getting Off the Leash. American Journal of Bioethics. September 2018;18(9):48-49.


Stahl D, Tomlinson T. Is there a right not to know? Nature Reviews Clinical Oncology. 2017 May;14(5):259-260.

Tomlinson T. Competence in Plain English. Hastings Center Report. 2016 Nov;46(6):inside back cover. doi: 10.1002/hast.650. PubMed PMID: 27875649.

De Vries RG, Tomlinson T, Kim HM, Krenz C, Haggerty D, et al. Understanding the Public’s Reservations about Broad Consent and Study-By-Study Consent for Donations to a Biobank: Results of a National Survey. PLoS ONE. 2016;11(7): e0159113. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0159113.

De Vries RG, Tomlinson T, Kim HM, Krenz CD, Ryan KA, Lehpamer N, Kim SY. The moral concerns of biobank donors: the effect of non-welfare interests on willingness to donate. Life Sciences, Society and Policy. 2016;12:3. doi: 10.1186/s40504-016-0036-4.

Tomlinson T. The Texas Advance Directives Act Is Not About Professional Integrity. American Journal of Bioethics. 2015;15(8):46-48.


Tomlinson T, De Vries R, Ryan K, Kim H, Lehpamer N, Kim SH. Moral Concerns and the Willingness to Donate to a Research Biobank. JAMA. 2015;313(4):417-419.

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

Selected Achievements and Awards

  • Distinguished Faculty Award, College of Human Medicine, 2011.
  • Public Preferences for Addressing Donors' Moral Concerns about Biobank Research. 5R01 HG007172. 2013-17. National Human Genome Research Institute, NIH.
  • 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, Journal of Medical Ethics, Temple University Press, C.V. Mosby Publishing, Oxford University Press, Joint Commission Journal on Quality and Patient Safety.
  • Past Treasurer, Association of Bioethics Program Directors.