Three paradoxes in global research ethics potentially harm vulnerable populations.

First, health research works. Yet, to protect vulnerable populations from exploitation, they are often excluded from it.

Second, international collaborative research works. Yet, major trust issues block collaborations with vulnerable populations who have previously been exploited.

Third, the further apart researcher and end-user experiences are, the more urgent the co-creation of research becomes. Yet, successful co-creation methods for non-clinical health research with vulnerable populations in low and middle income countries (LMICs) barely exist.

All three paradoxes restrict non-clinical health research in LMICs.

  • Funded by Wellcome Trust
  • Hosted by UCLan
  • Partnered with San Indigenous Community, South Africa
  • Partnered with Partners for Health & Development, Kenya

Why and how?

Impoverished populations are often excluded from health research to protect them from harm. Yet, these are often competent adults who have the most to gain from health research, as they are likely to carry a high burden of disease and have limited access to health care.

If they were able to contribute more to the design and conduct of research, better solutions for problems in resource-poor settings might be found.


We will build a research agenda with three aims.


First, we are rethinking the concept of vulnerability in non-clinical health research.

Second sex workers and indigenous people are defining what vulnerability in research means for them and how they want to overcome it.

Third, we are developing a research method in the medical humanities, to gain valuable knowledge from vulnerable populations with reduced risks of harm (e.g. from privacy breachers) compared to standard methods.

“Our Vision is shared by all involved, but most importantly by the vulnerable populations represented in the group (sex workers and indigenous peoples).”

Project Team

Doris Schroeder

Economics, Philosophy, Politics

Dr Roger Chennells

Law, Ethics

Dr Joshua Kimani


Dr Kate Chatfield

Empirical Ethics

Dr Hazel Partington

Empirical Ethics

Joyce Adhiambo

Nairobi Sex Workers

Leana Snyders

San Indigenous Community

Professor Gill Thomson

Psychology and

Participatory Methodologies

Professor Nicky Lowe

Natural Science

Ethan Farrell

Website Design