The Institute of Medical Ethics (IME) was founded in 1972 as the Society for the Study of Medical Ethics. It derived from the London Medical Group and similar independent groups in all the British centres of medical education, founded by The Very Revd Edward Shotter.

From 1963 to 1989, these groups sponsored the extracurricular study of issues raised by the practice of medicine which concern other disciplines, such as the law, moral philosophy, moral theology and the social sciences, in programmes of lectures and symposia on topics identified by students of medicine, nursing and allied disciplines.


The Journal of Medical Ethics was founded by the Institute in 1975. Published monthly, it has become a leading international journal that reflects the whole field of medical ethics. The journal aims to encourage a high academic standard for this ever-developing subject and the enhancement of professional and public discussion. It is co-owned by IME and BMJ Publishing Group Ltd.


The report of the Institute’s working party on the teaching of medical ethics, chaired by Sir Desmond Pond, was influential in the decision in 1989 to include ethics in the undergraduate medical curriculum. The IME has recently conducted a major project to facilitate learning, teaching and assessing medical ethics in a three-year programme involving the principal stakeholders.


The inaugural Education Conference is launched. Eleven further one-day events followed in subsequent years before evolution into a larger event with a wider focus.


The IME employed a Chief Executive, its first full time employee and set up a permanent office before launching as a membership organisation at the House of Lords.


The events calendar was expanded further with the introduction of the first Research Conference. The original event took place over one-day before expanding to a two-day event in the following four years.


The IME was fundamental in delivering the International Conference for Clinical Ethics Committees (ICCEC) which was held in the UK for the first time. The event was part of 5 consecutive days of clinical and medical ethics education held in Oxford.