Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)




It is frequently noted that 90% of medical research stands to benefit only 10% of the population. While others dispute the numbers, there is little doubt that disparities exist in the global agenda for medical research. One needs no clearer example of research—not to mention public health and health care delivery—disparities than the Ebola outbreak that plagues West Africa. Despite these disparities, Catholic universities continue to engage in the social practice of medical research that deviates very little from the national funding priorities established through the National Institute for Health.

This dissertation argues that these unjust disparities are perpetuated by institutions that continually participate in a research structure that does not meet the intrinsic good of medical research, namely affecting the health of those individuals who are most in need. A Catholic social ethics, drawing from liberationist thought—in particular that of Ignacio Ellacuría— rooted in solidarity, a preferential option for the poor, and justice, ought to prioritize the health needs of those individuals who are most restricted in their ability to participate in the upbuilding of a shared common good. Catholic universities need to rethink the way in which they participate in medical research in order to establish a more just research agenda that prioritizes the health needs of those on the margins of our global society.

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