Our Purpose

In recent years, technological advancements have accelerated rapidly, increasingly demanding ethical considerations that span across research, data, health, and biotechnology. Simultaneously, the technological, physical, and biological worlds are becoming more and more intertwined, and the path from innovation in the laboratory to application in the healthcare system and dissemination throughout society is getting shorter.

This presents new opportunities, but it is also crucial that ethics form a foundational element before these advancements impact our lives and daily routines.

The ethical issues we face now and in the future require scientific evidence, practical experience with relevant technologies, legal expertise, and philosophical reflection. To address this development, Denmark has established the Danish National Center for Ethics as the first country in the world to provide a common foundation for ethics.

By bringing together the necessary skills and expertise under one roof, a stronger platform has been created to place ethical considerations on the agenda not only in Denmark but also internationally.

The Danish National Center for Ethics was established on January 1, 2022, and supports the work of four independent bodies: The Danish Council on Ethics, the Danish Data Ethics Council, the Danish National Committee on Health Research Ethics, and the Danish Medical Research Ethics Committees.

Our task is to focus on and safeguard the ethical principles and values that shape our society. Among other things, we advise authorities when drafting new legislative proposals. We create debate and contribute to public education on ethical and science ethics issues within the center's area of responsibility. We help ensure the rights of test subjects and the scientific integrity of research projects. We stay ahead and address tomorrow's ethical dilemmas, make recommendations to promote essential ethical values and principles, and develop reports, statements, and articles to ensure that democratically agreed decisions are based on relevant ethical standards and considerations.

The goal is to promote ethics and give ethics a powerful voice so that we, and future generations, can look back with confidence on the framework we collectively established for innovation in the years to come.


Learn more about us

Ethical Dilemmas


Select a topic below to read more about some of the exciting topics we deal with at the Danish National Center for Ethics:

Designing your children

After the human genome was first mapped in 2003, the possibility of modifying human genes to prevent hereditary diseases opened up. With the newer CRISPR technology, diseases, disabilities and other undesirable traits can be removed from the foetus. But the technology also makes it possible to breed cosmetically attractive and desirable traits, such as a certain eye colour. In the future, it will probably also be possible to code for height, higher intelligence and musicality. This cut-and-paste method in human genes raises a wide range of ethical issues, because what does it mean for ordinary humanity in society when technology can be used to sort out undesirable traits? Where are the limits of technology's capabilities, and when do you use technology in a humane way and when do you not?

Read more:

The Danish Council on Ethics

Want to be hired by a robot?

Denmark has come a long way in digitalisation and has access to vast amounts of data. Data-driven technologists are playing a more significant role in society, and this is also true in the workplace, where new technologies can have an impact on leadership roles. This is true when it comes to recruitment, for example. For example, would you be hired or fired by an algorithm? Can an algorithm be your boss and should it be able to decide whether you should get a pay rise? Some believe that algorithms will be able to make more informed decisions than humans, but algorithms can also have drawbacks. They can be opaque, have inbuilt biases and make it difficult to assign responsibility for decisions. Should artificial intelligence be allowed to push humans out of traditionally human decision-making processes, and if so, when?

Read more

Danish Data Ethics Council


A surrogate mother is a woman who carries and gives birth to a child for someone else. Surrogacy is particularly discussed in the wake of the emergence of alternative family forms. However, it applies to both homosexuals who want children, but also heterosexuals who are involuntarily childless, as many find it more difficult to conceive naturally. A distinction is made between commercial and altruistic surrogacy. Commercial covers surrogacy as a commercial agreement where there is a financial transaction. It is not legal in Denmark. However, altruistic surrogacy, where a woman voluntarily carries a child for another woman, is. Surrogacy raises many ethical as well as legal issues, and the debate is not straightforward, because whose right is it to be defended? Is it the involuntarily childless, or is it the women who often find themselves in weak and mentally vulnerable situations? And what about the child?

Read more:

The Danish Council on Ethics


Xenotransplantation is a method of transferring organs from one species to another. The technology allows cells, tissues or organs to be transplanted across species. Examples include the transfer of pig hearts and kidneys to humans. For many years, attempts have been made to break down the physiological and immunological barriers between animals and humans, and work is underway to genetically modify pigs so that they do not reject in humans. In January 2022, a heart from a genetically modified pig was successfully transplanted into a patient for the first time. The heart was not immediately rejected and functioned as intended for several weeks. In the future, the method could potentially be used to combat the long waiting lists for heart transplants. However, the technique raises a number of ethical questions. What does its use mean for human views on animals and nature? Can unexpected risks be ruled out? How far are we willing to go in the use of genetic engineering?

Read more:

The Danish Council on Ethics

Medical trials

In health science research, human subjects are used to gain new knowledge that could lead to better treatments in the future. When conducting such trials, it is crucial that the interests of the subjects are safeguarded and that their participation is always based on informed consent. Participants in scientific trials often hope to benefit from the new treatment or, in the long term, to contribute to the development of new treatment options. However, being a trial subject will often have far-reaching consequences for the patient's everyday life. This is especially true for terminally ill people. As you would often have to spend a lot of time on the trial, it can mean that you have less time to spend with your loved ones and bring personal quality into your final days. What is the best way to ensure that terminally ill people have a dignified end of life while researching better treatment options?

Read more:

Homepage of NVK and VMK