Public Release: 

Annual medical ethics conference focuses on health disparities

University of Chicago Medical Center

The 22nd annual conference of The MacLean Center for Clinical Medical Ethics at the University of Chicago will be held at the University of Chicago Law School, 1111 E. 60th Street, on Fri., Nov. 12, from 1 to 5 pm, and Sat., Nov. 13, from 7:30 am to 5:15 pm.

Friday's sessions will focus on disparities in health and health care--at the local, national and global levels. Such disparities are increasingly viewed as not only social and political challenges but as ethical problems as well.

"Preventable deaths and disabilities--whether from treatable infectious diseases in Africa or from infant and maternal mortality in Chicago--demand engagement from the bioethics as well as the political communities," said conference director Mark Siegler, MD, the Lindy Bergman Distinguished Service Professor of Medicine at the University of Chicago. The organizers hope that the conference will focus interest and expand understanding of the multiple causes and vast consequences of disparities.

Speakers include Nobel Prize winning economist James Heckman, PhD, on "The socioeconomic Determinants of Health; Peter Singer, MD, on "Health Disparities, Global Challenges, and Innovation; Harold Pollack, PhD, on "What Happens Now? Health Reform Before 2014;" and Eric Whitaker, MD, on "A Local Perspective on Health Disparities.

The second day offers reports from former fellows at the MacLean Center, who present updates on their current research, much of it involving disparities.

Siegler founded The MacLean Center in 1984. It quickly became the largest program in clinical ethics in the world. More than 250 physicians and other health professionals have trained at the MacLean Center, many of whom now hold professorships, endowed chairs and directorships of ethics programs in the United States, Canada, and Europe. The research conducted by former MacLean fellows has helped open the bioethics field to a new research approach that is now described as "the empirical turn" in bioethics.

The Center's aim is to foster a network of clinical scholars worldwide who use clinical ethics to improve the quality of patient care and patient outcomes. This year's conference remembers Stephen Toulmin, a University of Chicago professor from 1973 to 1986 in the Committee on Social Thought, the Department of Philosophy, and the Divinity School who worked closely with the ethics program. He died on December 4, 2009.

Although there is no fee for this conference, the organizers ask that attendees register online at Please contact Kimberly Conner at 773-702-1453 or email her at


1:00 - 3:15 Health Disparities: A Global Challenge

Chair: Mark Siegler, University of Chicago
1:05 Norman Daniels, Harvard University, Health Disparities and What We Owe Each Other
1:30 James Heckman, University of Chicago, The Socioeconomic Determinants of Health
1:55 Peter Singer, University of Toronto
Health Disparities, Global Challenges, and Innovation
2:20 A. Eugene Washington, University of California, Los Angeles, Eliminating Health Care Disparities in the Context of National
Health Reform
2:45 - 3:15 Q & A

3:45 - 5:45 Health Disparities and Domestic Health Policy
Chair: Lainie Ross, University of Chicago
3:45 Marshall Chin, University of Chicago, Current Challenges in Reducing Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Health Care
4:05 Harold Pollack, University of Chicago, What Happens Now? Health Reform Before 2014
4:25 Preston Reynolds, University of Virginia, Primary Care: Health Disparities, Health Reform, and Title VII
4:45 Eric Whitaker, University of Chicago, The Urban Health Initiative: A Local Perspective on Health Disparities
5:05 - 5:45 Q & A

8:00 - 9:25 What is the Future of Pediatric Ethics?

Chair: Eric Kodish, Cleveland Clinic Foundation
8:00 Norman Fost, University of Wisconsin, Santayana Redux: The Future of Newborn Screening
8:15 Mark Mercurio, Yale University, The Future of Ethics in Neonatology
8:30 Lainie Ross, University of Chicago, The Future of Pediatric Genetic Testing
8:45 John Lantos, Children's Mercy Hospital, Kansas City, Do We Still Need Pediatricians?
9:00 - 9:25 Q & A

9:45 - 11:15 Remembering Stephen Toulmin: How Medicine Saved the Life of Ethics
Chair: Daniel Sulmasy, University of Chicago
9:45 Al Jonsen, California Pacific Medical Center, Stephen Toulmin and the Development of Clinical Ethics
10:05 Steven Miles, University of Minnesota, Remembering Stephen
10:20 John Lantos, Children's Mercy Hospital, Kansas City, Did Medicine Really Save the Life of Ethics?
10:35 Mark Siegler, University of Chicago, Did Ethics Really Save the Life of Medicine?
10:50 - 11:15 Q & A

11:15 - 12:35 Is Ethics Training Good Preparation for Leadership Roles in Health Care?
Chair: Peter Singer, University of Toronto
11:15 Laura Roberts, Chair, Dept. of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Stanford University School of Medicine
11:30 Jerry Menikoff, Director, Office of Human Research Protections (OHRP), Department of Health and Human Services
11:45 Lois Nora, President and Dean Emeritus, Northeastern Ohio Universities Colleges of Medicine and Pharmacy
12:00 Peter Singer, CEO, Grand Challenges Canada and Director, McLaughlin-Rotman Centre for Global Health, University of Toronto
12:15 - 12:35 Q & A

1:50 - 3:25 What Are the Goals and What Are the Limits of Palliative Care?
Chair: Peter Angelos, University of Chicago
1:50 Laurie Lyckholm, Virginia Commonwealth University, Postcards from Palliative Care
2:05 Farr Curlin, University of Chicago. The Goals and Limits of Palliative Sedation: Attitudes and Practices of U.S. Physicians
2:20 Susan Tolle, Oregon Health Sciences University, Does Completing POLST Forms Reduce Hospitalizations? Data from Three States
2:35 Savitri Fedson, University of Chicago, Palliative Care after Organ Transplantation
2:50 Daniel Sulmasy, University of Chicago, The Use and Abuse of the Rule of Double Effect
3:05 - 3:25 Q & A

3:45 - 4:55 Young Scholars
Chair: Caleb Alexander, University of Chicago
3:45 David Brush, University of Chicago, How do ICU Physicians Manage End-of-Life Conflicts with Surrogate Decision Makers?
3:55 Kruti Acharya, University of Chicago, Fragile X-Syndrome: Family Views on Disclosing Information
4:05 John Yoon, University of Chicago, Levels of Satisfaction and Burnout Among Primary Care Physicians: An Ethical Problem?
4:15 Margaret Moon, Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, Empirically-Based Curriculum Development for Resident Ethics Education
4:25 Andrew Aronsohn, University of Chicago, Different Conceptions of Risk in the Organ Market Debate
4:35 - 4:55 Q & A

5:00 - 6:00 Health Disparities in Transplantation and Rehabilitation Medicine
Chair: Stacy Lindau, University of Chicago
5:00 Milda Saunders, University of Chicago, Neighborhood Poverty, Racial Composition, and Renal Transplant Waiting List
5:10 Kathryn Moseley, University of Michigan, African American and White Disparities in Pediatric Kidney Transplantation: Unfortunate or Unjust?
5:20 Elisa Gordon, Northwestern University, Increasing Kidney Transplant Rates in Hispanic Patients
5:30 Kristi Kirschner, Northwestern University, Health Disparities in Chicago: Practicing Rehabilitation Medicine in Lawndale and on the Magnificent Mile
5:40 - 6:00 Q & A


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