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Center for Biomedical Ethics and Society

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Center for Biomedical Ethics and Society

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We provide multidisciplinary leadership addressing the ethical, legal, and social dimensions of medicine, health care, and health policy
Getting Answers
"Healing Relationships in Medicine" is a joint project of the Vanderbilt Medical Center and the Baptist Healing Trust to identify skills that facilitate compassionate relationships with patients.
Building Tomorrow
We are devoted to creating research tools that can meet future health care needs while promoting the public´s acceptance and trust in research.
Changing Lives
One qualitative study is examining how a patient´s illness trajectory is interpreted in different ways by patients, families, and care providers.


Clinical Ethics Consultation Service Pager: (615) 831-8603

Highlights and News

Dr. Ellen Clayton received the 2015 Frank H. Morriss Jr. Leadership Award from the University of Iowa.

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Congratulations to Dr. Nanibaa' Garrison for being invited to serve on the NIH Advisory Committee of the Director's Working Group on Diversity.

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Dr. Jessica Turnbull was profiled in the Monroe Carell Jr. Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt's "Pioneers of Hope" feature.

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Dr. Larry Churchill co-edited the Winter 2014 edition of The Journal of Law, Medicine and Ethics (Jan 6, 2015), entitled "The Buying and Selling of Health Care."  The 11 articles in this volume of JLME explore the pressures of commercialism on professional ethics in health care.

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Drs. Churchill, Fanning and Schenck's recent books Healers: Extraordinary Clinicians at Work and What Patients Teach:  The Everyday Ethics of Health Care, were reviewed by Eric Casell for the Hastings Center Report.

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Dr. Ellen Wright Clayton authored the IOM report "Beyond Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome" published in The Journal of the American Medical Association.  Dr. Clayton will be appearing on the NPR series On Point on February 16 to discuss the contents of the report.

Article at JAMA
On Point episode

Bruce Jennings, Adjunct Associate Professor, coauthored the article "Forty Years of Work on End-of-Life Care - From Patients' Rights to Systemic Reform" recently published in The New England Journal of Medicine.

Article at NEJM
Additional discussion on

Dr. Ellen Wright Clayton recently presented a CRC Research Skills Workshop entitled "Individual Choice v Public Good?"  This presentation will explore the balance between individual choice and the public good. We will focus on autonomy and expanding choice in the era of big data. We will discuss genomic research, oversight and security, data sharing, and misuse.

Dr. Elizabeth Heitman recently presented the workshop "VHRPP News You Can Use: Accountability - The New Standard for Integrity in Authorship and Publication in Biomedical Research"

The workshop was held January 26, at noon in 214 Light Hall.

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Drs. Fanning, Garrison and Churchill's article "Beyond the Recommendation: Discerning Achievable Goals in Clinical Ethics Consultation" appeared in the American Journal of Bioethics.

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Dr. Elizabeth Heitman's paper "Cross-cultural Considerations in U.S. Research Ethics Education" was recently published in the Journal of Microbiology and Biology Eduction.

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Dr. Larry Churchill was the keynote speaker at the Wake Forest Law Review's 2014 Fall Symposium on "Relationship-Centered Health Care: Implications for Law and Ethics," with Drs. Joe Fanning and David Schenck also attending as featured panelists.

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As part of the Flexner Discovery Lecture Series, the Center for Biomedical Ethics and Society and the Patricia Townsend Meador Lectureship recently hosted a lecture by Dr. Bernard Lo, MD entitled:

"Decisions near the end of life: Can we make them less agonizing?"

Dr. Lo spoke on September 25 at 4:00 pm in 208 Light Hall.


Congratulations to Dr. Ellen Wright Clayton for receiving the David Rall Medal from the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies at the IOM´s 43rd annual meeting.  The David Rall Medal is given to an IOM member who has demonstrated distinguished leadership as chair of a study committee or other such activity, showing commitment above and beyond the usual responsibilities of the position.  Read More

Drs. Churchill, Fanning and Schenck recently published What Patients Teach: The Everyday Ethics of Health Care , available from Oford University Press.  Read More.

Expanded description available at Oxford University Press.

Recent Publications

Additional Highlights

 Also see the Center Calendar