Celia Fisher

Dr. Celia Fisher

Marie Ward Doty University Chair in Ethics
Professor, Department of Psychology
Director, Center for Ethics Education
Director, Fordham HIV Prevention Research
Ethics Training Institute

Ethics & Society Blog

Curriculum Vitae
Email: fisher@fordham.edu

Rose Hill Campus: Dealy Hall, Room 117
Phone: 718-817-3793

Keywords: LGBT youth, health disparities, HIV prevention, substance abuse prevention, research and professional ethics, social justice

Currently accepting students.


  • 1970 BS Human Development Cornell University
  • 1975 MA Experimental Psychology Graduate Faculty New School for Social Research
  • 1978 PhD Experimental Psychology Graduate Faculty New School for Social Research
  • 1978–1979 Post-Doctoral Infant Research Princeton University


Celia B. Fisher, PhD, is the Marie Ward Doty Endowed University Chair and Professor of Psychology, and founding Director of the Fordham University Center for Ethics Education. She currently directs the NIDA funded Fordham University Training Institute on HIV Prevention Research Ethics. She has been Chair of the Environmental Protection Agency’s Human Studies Review Board, the DHHS Secretary’s Advisory Committee on Human Research Protections (SACHRP; Subcommittee on Children’s Research), the American Psychological Association’s Ethics Code Task Force, the New York State Licensing Board for Psychology, and the Society for Research in Child Development (SRCD) Common Rule Task Force. She is currently chairing the American Public Health Association Ethics Code Committee, a member of the external advisory board of the NIH Adolescent Brain Cognitive Development (ABCD) Study, and the Consensus Panel of the American Psychological Association Therapeutic Responses to Gender Nonconformity, Gender Dysphoria, and Sexual Orientation Distress in Children and Adolescents. She has also served as a member on the National Academies' Revisions to the Common Rule for the Protection of Human Subjects in Research in the Behavioral and Social Sciences, the IOM Committee on Ethical Review and Oversight Issues in Research Involving Standard of Care Interventions, the IOM Committee on Clinical Research Involving Children.

A founding editor of the journal Applied Developmental Science, Dr. Fisher is the author of Decoding the Ethics Code: A Practical Guide for Psychologists (3rd edition, 2013, Sage Publications); co-editor of eight books, including The Handbook of Ethical Research with Ethnocultural Populations and Communities (2006, Sage Publications) and Research with High-Risk Populations: Balancing Science, Ethics, and Law (2009, APA Publications); and over 150 theoretical and empirical publications in the areas of ethics in medical and social science research and practice and life-span development. Dr. Fisher is well-known for her federally funded research programs focusing on ethical issues and well-being of vulnerable populations, including ethnic minority youth and families, active drug users, college students at risk for drinking problems, LGBT youth and adults with impaired consent capacity. She was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award for Excellence in Human Research Protection in 2010 and was named a 2012 Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Major Research Interests

  • Health disparities, human rights, and identity development in adolescent, racial/ethnic minority and LGBT youth and adult populations
  • HIV prevention research ethics
  • Substance abuse prevention 
  • Informed consent capacity of healthy and hospitalized children and youth, adults with intellectual disabilities, individuals who use drugs, and those with mental disorders
  • Ethical attitudes and moral values among ethnic minority, LGBT, community workers and socially vulnerable groups
  • Environmental health ethics
  • Social Justice
  • Research and professional ethics

    View Dr. Fisher's current and previous research



    • Health Improvement Institute's Lifetime Achievement Award  for Excellence in Human Research Protection, 2011
    • Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, 2012
    • Presidential Citation, American Psychological Association, 2003
    • Marie Ward Doty Chair and Professor of Psychology, Fordham University, 2003
    • Distinguished Alumni Award, Graduate Faculty, New School University, 2004
    • Fellow, Society for the Study of Ethnic Minority Issues, Division 45, American Psychological Association, 2006

    Funded Research Projects

    Research Lab: Active Projects

    HIV institute logo

    Fordham University HIV and Drug Abuse Prevention Research Ethics Training Institute

    Primary Investigator: Celia B. Fisher (Fordham University). Supported by NIDA Grant# 1R25DA031608-01.

    Now in its fifth year, the Fordham HIV and Drug Abuse Prevention Research Ethics Training Institute (RETI) is a training grant sponsored by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (#1R25DA031608-01, Principal Investigator, Celia B. Fisher, Director Center for Ethics Education). The RETI provides early career investigators in the social, behavioral, medical and public health fields with an opportunity to gain research ethics training. A major function of the RETI is also to conduct institute-funded research on ethical issues in HIV and drug use research. In doing so, RETI addresses the urgent need for HIV investigators who can identify and address ethical issues, engage drug-using and other at-risk communities in the construction and evaluation of population-sensitive research protections, and generate empirical data to inform ethical practice and policies for HIV prevention science. Through their funded Mentored Research Project (MRP), RETI fellows generate empirical data, publish their findings in a variety of high-impact academic journals, and are trained to apply for increasing grant opportunities.

    LGBT grant logo

    Ethics in HIV Prevention Research Involving LGBT Youth

    Primary Investigators: Celia B. Fisher (Fordham University); Brian Mustanski (Northwestern University): Supported by NIMHD R01MD009561-01

    The overarching goal of the current proposal is to inform evidence-based decision making by investigators and IRBs alike regarding the responsible design and conduct of HIV prevention research involving LGBTY. We propose to address this knowledge gap with three specific aims: (1) To inform ethically responsible decision making and IRB application of relevant federal regulations (§§46.102i; 46.111.a) to the evaluation of psychological, social and informational risk-benefits of LGBTY involvement in HIV bio-behavioral research. Using focus groups and surveys we will generate empirical data on LGBTY’s appraisals of the magnitude and probability of the risks and anticipated benefits of recruitment strategies,risk behavior surveys, HIV/STI and drug use testing, and biomedical prevention trial participation. (2) To inform ethically responsible decision making and IRB application of regulations permitting waivers of guardian permission(§§46.116d and 46.408c) for LGBTY participation in HIV prevention research. Using focus groups and surveys we will generate empirical data on LGBTY’s appraisals of whether guardian permission is or is not a “practical” or a“reasonable” requirement for their participation in studies involving risk behavior surveys, HIV/STI and drug use testing, and biomedical prevention trials. We will explore if these appraisals differ by youth characteristics (e.g., degree of “outness”). AIM 3: To inform ethically responsible decision making and IRB application of regulations on youth capacity to consent (§§46.116d and 46.408c) for LGBTY participation in biomedical HIV prevention trials. Using a novel test of consent preparedness, we will generate empirical data on the consent preparedness of LGBT youths’ ages 15 – 17 compared to LGBT youth with adult legal status (18 – 20 years).

    Ethics in HIV Prevention Research involving LGBT Youth: A Focus on Transgender and Gender Nonconforming Youth

    Primary Investigators: Celia B. Fisher (Fordham University); Brian Mustanski (Northwestern University): Supported by NIMHD R01MD009561-01

    Research on transgender adults has described how “informational and institutional erasure”– in other words, the systematic assumption in healthcare and in research that individuals identify and have consistently identified with their birth sex, thereby “erasing” their trans experiences – discourages them from participating in research and seeking healthcare and negatively impacts their mental and physical health. Therefore, this supplement is designed to (1) provide an opportunity for youth to discuss barriers to participating in HIV prevention research (e.g., gender-related microaggressions in the context of research participation, fear of the researcher not recognizing their gender identity, discomfort with gender binary language), and (2) to inform TGNCY appropriate sexual health recruitment and survey practices through population-sensitive and affirming procedures, language, and materials.

    AIAN grant logo

    Increasing American Indian and Alaska Natives (AIAN) Research Engagement through a Culturally Adapted Ethics Training

    Primary Investigators: Cynthia Pearson (University of Washington) and Celia B. Fisher (Fordham University). Supported by NICHD1R01HD082181-01.

    American Indian and Alaska Natives (AIAN) face glaring health disparities, and AIAN-specific research lags behind other racial and ethnic data in addressing AIAN health concerns. Engaging AIAN community members in the research process can reduce research mistrust, increase scientific rigor, and expose more AIAN to research both as participants and potentially as future scholars. A significant barrier to community-engaged research (CEnR), however, is the absence of culturally relevant human subject's research ethics education for community partners. This early stage investigator initiated (PA-13-302) proposal addresses the urgent need to increase participation of AIAN in the design, implementation and dissemination of federally funded research conducted in Indian Country and affecting the health and welfare of their communities. By doing so, this study addresses a primary goal of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) "to strengthen our nation's research capacity, broaden our research base, and inspire a passion for science in current and future generations of researchers." The overarching goal is to strengthen research capacity and increase AIAN community involvement in NIH-funded research by creating a culturally relevant training module for the Collaborative IRB Training Initiative (CITI) that is applicable, accessible and passable for AIAN while enhancing its educational value.

    Melissa thesis

    Sense of community and health outcomes among transgender college students

    Investigators: Melissa Dumont and Celia B. Fisher, PhD, Fordham University

    Transgender people are an understudied population that are at-risk for many poor health and academic outcomes. Transgender college students may experience victimization and other stressors from their college campus, which contribute to these outcomes. These students may turn to campus LGBT organizations in order to have a community that they can belong to, but many transgender people report hostility even within LGBT organizations. This study will examine the role of psychological sense of community (PSOC) as a protective factor, across three different communities: the individual’s campus, campus LGBT organizations, and online LGBT communities.

    Muslim students

    Discrimination Distress, Academic Performance, and Psychological Wellbeing Among Arab Muslim College Students: Factors Influencing Well-being Among Arab Muslim College Students

    Investigators: Mona Khalil and Celia B. Fisher, PhD, Fordham University

    Recent psychological literature has demonstrated that Arab Muslims adolescents and young adults may be at high risk for poor psychological well-being and diminished academic performance due to persistent discrimination. Despite this risk, a dearth of information exists on unique risk and protective factors for the impacts of discrimination and discrimination distress on Arab Muslims. A sample of Arab Muslim American college students will be recruited for the current study. A structural model will be developed to examine how acculturative strategy, ethnic identity exploration, commitment, centrality, public regard, private regard, stigma visibility, and stigma consciousness relate to reports of discrimination frequency, discrimination distress, and their subsequent impact on depressive symptoms, self-esteem and academic performance.

    Ethics in HIV Prevention Research involving LGBT Youth: A Focus on Transgender and Gender Nonconforming Youth

    Investigators: Miriam R. Arbeit, PhD and Celia B. Fisher, PhD, Fordham University

    Transgender and gender nonconforming youth and young adults (TGNCY) face particular vulnerabilities to HIV transmission. These vulnerabilities, and the potential strategies for addressing them, may be unique in many ways from those of their cisgender LGB peers. The purpose of this study is to guide the development of HIV prevention and sexual health intervention research in ways that are inclusive, accessible, and affirming of TGNCY and are effective in addressing their sexual health needs. We will do this by gathering the perspectives of TGNCY with regard to how they have seen and how they want to see their sexual selves, their sexual relationships, and their access to and treatment within sexual health institutions. As such, this research has the potential to inform recommendations for both research and practice in preventing HIV transmission and promoting sexual health among TGNCY.



    MSNBC (2014, October 18). Discrimination 'mounting' on West African Immigrants [video file]. [Transcript] Melissa Harris-Perry.

    ABC7 (2015, April 30). Fordham's Celia Fisher on ABC-NY on the Ethics of the Sofia Vergara Embryo Suit [video file]. Eyewitness News, New York.

    Al Jazeera America (2013,November 4). Collect it all: America’s surveillance state [video file]. Faultline.

    Fox News (2005, June 9). Gene imaging: miracle or menace? Your World with Neil Cavuto.

    Print & Web

    Svenska Dagbladet. (2016, January 15). Social Justice and hyper-masculinity.

    The Washington Post (2015, November 23). Charlie Sheen put a spotlight on HIV and sex workers. But here’s what’s missing from the conversation.

    Ampersand (2015,October 29). Unpacking the NPRM: expanding exemptions.

    Ethics & Society (2015, October 19). NIH’s new definition of ‘children’ finally gets it right: a welcome change for children’s health equity (written by Dr. Celia B. Fisher.).

    Huffington Post (2015, October 16). Federal Government Report Calls for End to Conversion Therapy.

    The Huffington Post (2015,October 16). Stop Conversion Therapy – It’s Based on Pseudo-Science.

    The Advocate (2015, October 15). Feds: ‘Harmful’ Conversion Therapy Must Be Stopped.

    Ethics & Society (2015, September 3). Minimal risk and minimal experience: can researchers competently navigate OHRP’s new risk categories? (written by Dr. Celia B. Fisher).

    Ethics & Society (2015, June 15). When are researchers accomplices to a crime? Navigating moral boundaries(written by Dr. Celia B. Fisher).

    Associated Foreign Press (2015, May 5). TV star Vergara speaks out over embryo custody battle.

    Clinical Leader (2015, March 13). Paying Clinical Trial Participants: Best or Worst Practice?

    Psych Central (2014, December 1). Ethical Parenting: Parent-Child Conflict.

    Ampersand (2014, August 19). Discovering research ethics scales and measures (written by Dr. Celia B. Fisher & Dr. Elizabeth Yuko).

    SciDevNet (2014,February 18). View on Disability: Trials Exclude Vulnerable People.

    Ethics & Society (2013, August 19). Advance directives for research involving adults with advancing dementia (written by Dr. Celia B. Fisher).

    Vox.com (2013, August 13). Was it ethical for missionaries to be treated for Ebola before the Liberians they were serving?

    The Jewish Channel (2013, April 24). Investigation Reveals Additional Questionable Identity with Connections to Broyde’s Scholarship.

    The Root (2013, September 18). Can a Racist Grandpa Raise a Biracial Kid?

    Ethics & Society (2013, May 17). Are psychologists violating their Ethics Code by conducting death penalty evaluations for defendants with mental disabilities? (written by Dr. Celia B. Fisher).

    The New York Post (2012, December 2). Experts split on getting involved.

    Pittsburgh Tribune Review (2011, October 12). Gateway superintendent’s e-mail scrutinized.

    AHC Media (2011, July 1). Ethics mentoring – lead by policy & example.

    The Carnegie Council (2007, December 17). Interview with Celia B. Fisher, Director, Center for Ethics Education.

    gradPSYCH (2007, September). Balancing risk and research.

    The Associated Press (2007, July 22). School conducts anti-phishing research.

    Science Magazine (2006, May 12). A cure for the common trial.

    Fox News (2006, March 24). Extreme health care? Reality TV show features cutting edge medicine.

    New York Daily News (2005, September 20). Gender test gives mom the news at 5 weeks.

    Health Day (2005, August 5). Dog cloning could lead to insights into human disease.

    New York Daily News (2005, July 22). Shari’s kin renew plea for liver.

    Web Pro News(2005, June 25). FDA approves heart failure drug for black patients.

    Health Day (2005, June 24). Heart drug approved for Blacks raises race issue.

    USA Today (2003, May 5). Teen alcohol study coming under fire from ethicists.

    AHC Media (2003, February 1). Experts say Clonaid isn’t likely to have cloned baby.

    Philippine Daily Inquirer (2003, January 4). Creating humanoids by cloning unethical and deplorable.

    The New York Times (2002, June 30). NJ &CO.; Making a Match.

    New York Daily News (2001, August 8). Doc vows he’ll clone 200 soon.

    Christian Science Monitor (2001, August 6). In codes of privacy, new cracks.

    Philadelphia Inquirer (1999, August 16). Keeping therapists and patients apart, American Psychological Association may tighten rules on sexual involvement.

    Recent Publications

    • Fisher, C. B., Arbeit, M., Dumont, M., Macapagal, K., & Mustanski, B. (2016). Self-consent for HIV prevention research involving sexual and gender minority youth: Reducing barriers through evidence-based ethics.Journal of Empirical Research on Human Research Ethics, 11, first published online 3.7.16 DOI: 10.1177/1556264616633963

    • Macapagal, K., Coventry, R., Arbeit, M., Fisher, C. B. & Mustanski, B. (2016). “I won’t out myself just to do a survey”: Sexual and gender minority adolescent’s perspectives on the risks and benefits of sex research. Archives of Sexual Behavior. Online July 28, 2016 DOI 10.1007/s10508-016-0784-5

    • Fisher, C. B. (2015). Enhancing the responsible conduct of sexual health prevention research across global and local contexts: Training for evidence-based research ethics. Ethics &Behavior, 25 (2). DOI: 10.1080/10508422.2014.948956

    • Fisher, C. B. & Yuko, E. (2015). The HIV and Drug Abuse Prevention Research Ethics Training Institute: Training early-career scientists to conduct research on research ethics Journal of Empirical Research on Human Research Ethics, 10(5), 470-480.

    • Fisher, C. B. & Mustanski, B. (2014) Reducing health disparities and enhancing the responsible conduct of research involving LGBT youth. Hastings Center Report, 5, 28-31. PMID: 25231783, PMCID: 4617525

    • Fisher, C. B. (2014). HIV Prevention Research Ethics: An Introduction to the Special Issue. Journal Of Empirical Research On Human Research Ethics, 9(1), 1-5. PMID: 24572078

    • Fisher, C. B. (2013). Decoding the Ethics Code: A Practical Guide for Psychologists, Third Edition. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.

    • Fisher, C.B., True, G., Alexander, L., & Fried, A.L. (2013). Moral stress, moral practice, and ethical climate in community-based drug use research: Views from the frontline. American Journal of Bioethics Primary Research, 4(3), 27-38.

    • Fisher, C. B. (2013). Confidentiality and disclosure in non-intervention adolescent risk research. Applied Developmental Science, 17 (2), 1-6

    • Fisher, C. B. (2013). Human rights and psychologists’ involvement in assessments related to death penalty cases. Ethics & Behavior, 23 (1), 58-61.

    • Fisher, C.B., Brunnquell, D.J., Hughes, D.L., Maholmes, V., Plattner, P. Russell, S.T., Liben, S., & Susman, E.J. (2013). Preserving and enhancing the responsible conduct of research involving children and youth: A response to proposed changes in federal regulations. Social Policy Report, 27 (1), 3-15. http://www.srcd.org/sites/default/files/spr_27-1.pdf

    • Fisher, C. B. & McCarthy, E. L. (2013). Ethics in prevention science involving genetic testing. [Special issue] Prevention Science, 14, 310-318. PMID: 23354905

    • Fisher, C. B., Busch-Rossnagel, N.B., Jopp, D.S., & Brown, J.L. (2012). Applied developmental science, social justice and socio-political well-being. Applied Developmental Science, 16(1), 54-64.

    View additional publications