Statement of clarification by the Chair of the German Ethics Council

Since the early stages of the pandemic and increasingly so, the Ethics Council, individual Council members and in particular its Chair, Prof. Alena Buyx, have been repeatedly confronted with false reports, accusations, slander, insults and hate messages, right up to threats. The latter are consistently reported to the police.

In recent months, Prof. Buyx has been accused of being biased, especially in right-wing populist media. Insubstantial accusations range from allegations of corruption to the assumption that she is being paid by the vaccine-developing pharmaceutical industry to suspicions that she is biased due to research funding for her institute.

It is to be stated: These accusations are groundless and false.

Like many researchers in Germany, Prof. Buyx leads a number of research projects in medical ethics, in her case at the Institute for the History and Ethics of Medicine at the Technical University of Munich, where she serves as director since 2018. In part, these projects are realised through the institute’s own funding, while others are financed through so-called third-party funds. Third-party funds are grants for which one has to undergo a complex application process and which are then used by the respective institution to pay primarily for staff salaries, but also for research equipment or travel expenses for research meetings. The use of these funds for personal purposes is excluded.

Without exception, the third-party funding that Prof. Buyx has obtained in the course of her academic career has been granted from reputable, established funding institutions such as the German Research Foundation, the European Commission or the Federal Ministry of Education and Research. Contrary to what has been reported, Prof. Buyx has never received funding from the Wellcome Trust, an equally reputable British foundation that supports medical research worldwide.

On the website of the institute headed by Prof. Buyx, all research funds obtained and the respective funding institutions are displayed transparently and consistently. The research projects conducted by Prof. Buyx are not directly related to her work in the German Ethics Council; nevertheless, current results in medical ethics and findings from her own research work may certainly contribute to the Council’s work, just as it is commonplace in expert counselling.