Michael M. Burgess is Professor and Associate Provost, Strategy at the UBC Okanagan campus. He is also chair in  Biomedical Ethics at the W. Maurice Young Centre for Applied Ethics and the Department of Medical Genetics at the University of British Columbia. He was also Principal of the College for Interdisciplinary Studies until 2011.

Burgess combines ethical and social theory with social science methods related to policy in health care, health research and biotechnology. His graduate supervision has been primarily in the Interdisciplinary Studies Graduate Program, and his seminars typically include students with backgrounds in science, health care, health research, social science and humanities. His research has been funded by SSHRC, CIHR, Genome Canada and Genome BC, as well as NGOs and industry contracts.

Most recently Burgess’ research has focused on science and technology policy and public engagement based on theories of deliberative democracy. With Peter Danielson he is PI of the Genome Canada/Genome BC-funded “Building a GE3LS Architecture” and is a collaborator on other genome science projects in microbial genomics of forest soils (PI: W. Mohn) and military explosives (PI: L Eltis). Burgess worked Kieran O’Doherty to implement deliberative engagements on biobanks in BC, the Mayo Clinic (PI: B. Koenig) and in Western Australia. The deliberative design has also been recently been used on issues related to salmon genomics, and bioremediation of military explosive RDX.

To obtain complete CV in PDF format click here.

I am primarily interested in identifying neglected or novel perspectives on issues of culture, genetics and genomics to assure that the theoretical approaches and recommendations engage with poorly understood or disenfranchised perspectives. The focus of my interdisciplinary collaboration is to engage various “publics” in dialogue about the role of genomics and biotechnology in society, to inform policy and to sustain continued discussion on important ethical issues. The primary topics have been salmon genomics and aquaculture and biobanking. I am currently working on practical and theoretical integration of science and technology studies, non-electoral deliberative democracy, and ethics.

Research Areas


Biotechnology and ethics

Culture and Ethics

Democracy and Ethics

Ethics of Health Policy

Genetics and Ethics

Genomics and Ethics

Health Care Ethics

Public Engagement and Ethics

Research Ethics

Current Grants


2009—2013 Canadian Institutes of Health Research; Facilitating access to health data for research and planning in light of laws and ethical norms; $160,529 CDN. Principal Investigators: D Willison, K El Emam, E Gibson.
Collaborators: P. Abdelmalik, S. Anand, M. Burgess, A. Dawson, C. Emerson, V. Goel, M. Hadskis, A.
Holbrook, M. Loeb, J. Mclaughlin, P. Raina, L. Schwartz, V. Steeves

2009 – 2010 Genome British Columbia; BC Biolibrary, CIHR; CAE/BC Biolibrary Project: Guidelines, Protocols and Policies; $90,000 CDN; Principal Investigator: Michael Burgess (Co-Investigator), Kieran O’Doherty, Peter Watson

2009 – 2010 Canadian Institutes of Health Research; Institute of Infection and Immunity; $100,000 CDN; Principal Investigators: Peter Arck, Michael Burgess (Co-Investigator), Kieran O’Doherty

2009 – 2010 Genome British Columbia; Genomic studies of explosives biodegradation; $240,000CDN; Co-applicant: Michael Burgess, Kieran O’Doherty

2009 – 2010 British Columbia Cancer Agency; Fostering public trust in the BC Health Banks: Design and implementation of structured public involvement in governance of a cohort study; $ 40,000CDN; Principal Investigator: Michael Burgess (Co-Investigator), Kieran O’Doherty

Apr, 2008-Mar, 2011 Genome British Columbia; Genomic Studies of Explosives Biodegradation; C; $3508000CDN; Principal Investigator: Eltis Lindsay; Coinvestigators: Bill Mohn (Co-Principal Investigator), Stephen Hallam (Co-Principal Investigator), Michael Burgess (Co-Principal Investigator)

Apr, 2008-Mar, 2011 Genome British Columbia; Genomic approaches to microbial community monitoring in forest soil; C; $1269333CDN; Principal Investigator: Bill Mohn; Coinvestigators: Steve Hallam (Co-Principal Investigator), Michael Burgess (Co-Principal Investigator)

Oct, 2007-Sep, 2010 Canadian Institutes of Health Research; Canadian Network for the governance of ethical health research; C; $203500CDN; Principal Investigator: Michael McDonald; Coinvestigators: Michael Burgess (Co-Principal Investigator), Susan Cox (Co-Principal Investigator), Eric Meslin (Co-Principal Investigator)

Apr, 2007-Mar, 2012 Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research. BC BioLibrary: Banking for Health; C; $2500000CDN; Principal Investigator: Peter Watson; Coinvestigators: R Hegele (Co-Principal Investigator), D Huntsman (Co-Principal Investigator), I Mckenzie (Co-Principal Investigator), S Aparcio, A Junker, B Gilks, M Wilkinson, MM Burgess, J Brinkman, N Burgess, J Wilson-McManus

Apr, 2007-Jul, 2007 Canadian Institutes for Health Research, Ethics office; Deliberative Public Engagement on Biobanks; C; $10000CDN; Principal Investigator: Michael MacDonald Burgess

Feb, 2007-Jul, 2007 Canadian Institutes of Health Research, Institute of Genetics; Deliberative Public Engagement on Biobanks; C; $4000CDN; Principal Investigator: Michael MacDonald Burgess

Feb, 2006-Mar, 2010 Genome Canada and Genome BC; Building a GE3LS Architecture; C; $1900000CDN; Coinvestigators: Michael Burgess (Co-Principal Investigator), Peter Danielson (Co-Principal Investigator), Ed Levy, Daniel Weary

Feb, 2006-Mar, 2010 Genome Canada and Genome BC; Pathogenomics of Innate ; C; Coinvestigators: Robert Hancock (Co-Principal Investigator), Lorne Babiuk (Co-Principal Investigator), Michael Burgess, Janet Atkinson-Grosjean

Feb, 2006-Mar, 2010 Genome Canada and Genome BC; Comparative Genomics of the Atlantic Salmon Project; C;$15000000CDN; Coinvestigators: Willie Davidson (Co-Principal Investigator), Benjamin Koop (Co-Principal Investigator), Stig Omholt (Co-Principal Investigator), Michael Burgess, Peter Danielson

2005-2008 French Ministry of national education, teaching and research; Human population genetics and public health: multidisciplinary analysis and international comparison of normative contexts and practices; C; $63000CDN; Principal Investigator: Anne Cambon-Thomsen; Coinvestigators: Michael Burgess, A Brand

2002-2009 Canadian Institutes of Health Research; Ethics of Health Research and Policy: A Training Program; C; $1600000CDN; Principal Investigator: Michael McDonald; Coinvestigators: Francoise Baylis, Michael Burgess, Susan Cox, Janice Graham, Nuala Kinney, Susan Sherwin

2002-2004 Canadian Institutes of Health Research; Towards the Ethical Governance of Canadian Health Research Involving Humans: Principles, Policies, Practices and Outcomes; C; $70900CDN; Principal Investigator: he University of British Columbia Page 3 of 13
Curriculum Vitae of UBC CV Michael McDonald; Coinvestigators: MM Burgess, T Caulfield, , Brenda Beagan, Michael Asch, TD Kinsella, Eric Meslin

2001-2005 Genome Canada; Democracy, Ethics and Genomics; C; $1200000CDN; Principal Investigator: Michael MacDonald Burgess

Dr. Michael Burgess is currently Principal of the College for Interdisciplinary Studies and theGenetics and Ethics course (MEDG 535 / INDS 502K, Term 2) is presently being taught by Dr. Anita Ho.

The two courses, Science, Society and Ethics (INDS 530A, 005) and Ethical Analysis of Studies of Science and Society (INDS 530A 001) are not currently offered, interested students should contact Professor Burgess.

Burgess is a consultant to teams at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester Minnesota (B. Koenig), and at the University of Tasmania’s Centre for Genetics and Ethics (D. Chalmers) and the Menzies Research Institute (S. Foote) on the development of deliberative events to be held in 2011. 

The Office of Population Health Genomics, Public Health Division of the Health Department of Western Australia used the approach with a stakeholder group as well as a public group, and have incorporated their assessments of the deliberations using the UBC deliberative design into their policy, “Biobanks, Genetic Research Databases & Associated Data” (2010). In Feb 2010 Burgess was an invited speaker at 2 committees of the Australian National Health and Medical Research Council:

Perspectives on Genomic Issues in Canada. Human Genetics Advisory Committee, Australia 
Designing and assessing community engagement. Gene Technology & Community Consultative Committee.


Committee Memberships at UBC


2010-University; UBC Vancouver Sustainability Initiative; Sustainability Steering Committee; Role: Member


2008-FacultyAdvisory to the Dean of Medicine for the School of Population and Public Health; Role: Chair

2008-UniversitySenate Committee on Student Appeals on Academic Discipline; Role: Member

2008-UniversitySenate; Role: Member


Refereed Publications in Journals

MacLean, S and MM Burgess. Stakeholder Influence in Public Deliberation about Biobanks’. Public Understanding of Science. Online:http://pus.sagepub.com/cgi/content/abstract/0963662509335410v1

Longstaff, Holly and Michael Burgess. ‘Recruiting for representation in public deliberation on the ethics of biobanks’. Public Understanding of Science. 19, 2 (2010): 212-224. Online:http://pus.sagepub.com/cgi/content/abstract/0963662508097626v1

Watson PH, Wilson-McManus JE, Barnes RO, Giesz SC, Ping A, Hegele RD, Brinkman JN, Mackenzie IR, Huntsman DG, Junker A, Gilks B, Skarsgard E, Burgess, MM, Aparicio S, McManus BM. Evolutionary concepts in biobanking – the BC BioLibrary. Journal of Translational Medicine 7:95 (2009): 1479-5876. Online: http://www.translational-medicine.com/content/7/1/95

Avard, D, LM Bucci, MM Burgess, J Kaye, C Heeney and A Cambon-Thompson. ‘Public Health Genomics and Public Participation: Points to Consider.’. Journal of Public Deliberation 5, 1 (2009): Article 7. OnlIne: http://services.bepress.com/jpd/vol5/iss1/art7/

Secko, DM, N Preto, S Niemeyer and MM Burgess. ‘Informed Consent in Biobank Research: Fresh Evidence for the Debate’. SOCIAL SCIENCE & MEDICINE 68, 4 (2009): 781-789.

O’Doherty, K and MM Burgess. ‘Engaging the public on biobanks: Outcomes of the BC Biobank Deliberation’. Public Health Genomics 12, 4 (2009): 203-215.

Tansey, J and MM Burgess. ‘The meaning of genomics: Conflation of transgenics and genomics by publics and experts.’. Public Understanding of Science. 17.4 (2008): 473 – 484.

Burgess, MM and J Tansey. ‘Cultural Authority of Informed Consent: Indigenous Participation in Biobanking and Salmon Genomics Focus Groups’. After Consent: A Socio-ethical Approach to Human Subject Research in Medicine. Ed. OP Corrigan, K Liddell, J McMillan, M Richards and C Weijer. Cambridge University Press, 2008. 199 – 211.

Burgess, MM and J Tansey. ‘Democratic deficit and the politics of “informed and inclusive” consultation’. Hindsight and Foresight on Emerging Technologies. Ed. E Einseidel and R Parker. UBC Press, 2008. 275 – 288.

Burgess, MM, K O’Doherty and DM Secko. ‘Biobanking in BC: Enhancing discussions of the future of personalized medicine through deliberative public engagement’. Personalized Medicine. 5.3 (2008): 285 ­- 296.

Secko, David, Michael Burgess and Kieran O’Doherty. ‘Perspectives on Engaging the Public in the Ethics of Emerging Biotechnologies: From Salmon to Biobanks to Neuroethics’. Accountability in Research. 15:4 (2008): 283 – 302.

Caulfield , T, AL McGuire, M Cho , JA Buchanan , MM Burgess, D Danilczyk, CM Diaz, AL Felsenfeld, K Fryer-Edwards, SK Green, MA Hodosh, ET Juengst, J Kaye, L Kedes, BM Knoppers, T Lemmens, E Meslin, J Murphy, RL Nussbaum, M Otlowski, D Pullman, PL Ray, J Sugarman and M Timmons. ‘Research Ethics Recommendations for Whole-Genome Research: Consensus Statement’. PLOS BIOLOGY. 6.3 (March 2008): 430 ­- 435.

Burgess, M.M. ‘Proposing Modesty for Informed Consent’. Social Science and Medicine. 65.11 (2007): 2284 – 2295.

Burgess, MM and B Williams-Jones. ‘Law in tension with evolving ethical perception: Prenatal genetic testing for sex and disability’. ICFAI Journal of Healthcare Law. 5.1 (2007): 8 – 21.

Longstaff, H, MM Burgess and P Lewis. ‘Comparing Methods of Ethical Consultation for Biotechnology Related Issues.’. Health Law Review. 15.1 (2007): 37 – 38.

Tansey, James and Michael Burgess. ‘Democracy, Ethics and Genomics: Introduction to a special issue’. Journal of Integrated Assessment. 6.2 (2006): 1 – 8.

Burgess, MM and J Tansey. ‘Complexity of public interest in ethical analysis of genomics: Ethical reflections on salmon genomics/aquaculture.’. Journal of Integrated Assessment. 6.2 (2006): 37 – 57.

Williams-Jones, B. and M.M. Burgess. ‘Democratising Access to Genetic Services’. Familial Cancer – Oncogenetics: Achievements and Challenges. 5.2 (2006): 117 – 121.

Burgess, MM .. ‘Ethical Analysis of Representation in the Governance of Biotechnology’. Crossing Over: Genomics in the Public Arena. Ed. EF Einsiedel and F Timmermans. Calgary: Canada: University of Calgary Press, 2005. 157 – 172.

Brunger, F. and MM Burgess. ‘A cultural understanding of research ethics governance.’. Alberta Health Law Review, Special Edition: Canadian Governance for Ethical Research Involving Humans.. 13.2&3 (2005): 69 – 74.

Burgess, MM. ‘Public consultation in ethics: an experiment in representative ethics’. Journal of Bioethical Inquiry. 1.1 (2004): 4 – 13.

Rodney, P, B Pauly and MM Burgess. ‘Our Theoretical Landscape: Complementary Approaches to Health Care Ethics..’. Ethical leadership for practice: An advanced sourcebook for nurses and colleagues in health care.. Ed. J., Rodney, P. & Starzomski, R. Storch. Prentice Hall Health, 2004. 77 – 97.

McPherson, G, P Rodney, MM Burgess and B. Pauly. ‘Working the Landscape: Applications in Health Care Ethics’. Ethical leadership for practice: An advanced sourcebook for nurses and colleagues in health care. Ed. J. Storch, P. Rodney and R. Starzomski. Prentice Hall Health, 2004. 98 – 125.

Williams-Jones, B and MM Burgess. ‘Social Contract Theory and Just Decision Making: Lessons from Genetic Testing for the BRCA Mutations’. Kennedy Institute of Ethics Journal. 14.2 (2004): 115 – 142.

Rodney, P, MM Burgess, G McPherson and H. Brown. ‘Our Theoretical Landscape: A Brief History of Health Care Ethics.’. Ethical leadership for practice: An advanced sourcebook for nurses and colleagues in health care.. Ed. J. Storch, P Rodney and R Starzomski. Prentice Hall Health, 2004. 56 – 76.

Burgess, MM, P Lewis, P Bromley, B Kneen and V McCaffrey. ‘Above and Beyond: Industry Innovation Related to Genetic Privacy.’. Genomics, Health and Society: Emerging Issues for Public Policy Genomics and Public Policy. Ed. Knoppers BM and C Scriver. Ottawa: Policy Research Initiative, 2003. 157 – 187.

d’Agincourt-Canning, L, MM Burgess and McGillivray; BEthics and hereditary cancer – issues for women and families with hereditary breast/ovarian cancer chapter.. ‘Ethics and hereditary cancer – issues for women and families with hereditary breast/ovarian cancer chapter’. Breast Cancer Management (2nd Edition). Ed. Nabholtz et al.. Lippincott, Williams & Wilkins, 2003. 437 – 445.

Thurston, W.E., A. R. Vollman and M.M. Burgess. ‘Ethical review of health promotion program evaluation proposals.’. Health Promotion Practice. 4.1 (2003): 45 – 50.

Burgess, MM and L. d’Agincourt-Canning. ‘Genetic Testing for Hereditary Disease: Attending to Relational Responsibility.’. Journal of Clinical Ethics .. 12.4 (2002): 361 – 372.

Burgess, MM. ‘Wither morality in genetic tests? .’. University of Alberta Health Law Review. 9.3 (2001): 3 – 9.

Burgess, MM.. ‘Beyond consent: ethical and social issues in genetic testing.’. Nature Reviews: Genetics. 2 (2001): 9 – 14.

Caulfield, T, MM Burgess, B Williams-Jones and et al.. ‘Providing Genetic Testing Through the Private Sector: A View From Canada.’. ISUMA. 2.3 (2001): 72 – 81.

Burgess, MM, BM Knoppers and CM Laberge. ‘Ethics and Genetics in Medicine.’. Bioethics at the bedside: a clinician’s guide.. Ed. PA Singer. Toronto, Ontario: Canadian Medical Association, 1999. 79 – 87.

Burgess, MM. ‘Marketing And Fear Mongering: Time To Try Private Genetic Services?’. The commercialization of genetic research: Ethical, legal and policy issues. Ed. T Caulfield and B Williams-Jones. New York.: Kluwar Academic / Plenum Publishing Corporation, 1999. 181 – 194.

Thurston, WE, MM Burgess and CE Adair. ‘Ethical issues in the use of computerized databases for epidemiologic and other health research.’. Chronic Diseases in Canada. 20.3 (1999): 127 – 131.

Etchells, E, G Sharpe, MM Burgess and PA Singer. ‘Disclosure.’. Bioethics at the bedside: a clinician’s guide. Ed. PA Singer. Toronto, Ontario: Canadian Medical Association, 1999. 9 – 16.