$50,000 prize, focus on future of medicine are highlights of annual ethics conference

$50,000 prize, focus on future of medicine are highlights of annual ethics conference

Largest award of its kind to go to Wennberg, founding editor of The Dartmouth Atlas

October 31, 2011

The 23rd annual Dorothy MacLean Fellows Conference on medical ethics will tackle the role of professionalism in improving patient care and strengthening the alliance between medicine and society. A highlight of the conference, which will be held Nov. 11-12, will be the presentation of the first MacLean Center Prize in Clinical Ethics and Health Outcomes.

The $50,000 award, which is the largest such prize in the ethics field, will go to John Wennberg, MD, MPH, the Peggy Y. Thomson Professor for Evaluative Clinical Sciences at Dartmouth Medical School and founding editor of The Dartmouth Atlas of Health Care. The Atlas project, which examines the patterns of medical resource intensity and utilization in the United States, has reported on patterns of end-of-life care, inequities in the Medicare reimbursement system and the underuse of preventive care.

The two-day conference will feature an esteemed lineup of experts on medical ethics. Among the speakers on Friday, Nov. 11:

  • Arthur Rubenstein, MD, dean emeritus of the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine
  • Christine Cassel, MD, president and CEO of the American Board of Internal Medicine
  • Troy Brennan, executive vice president and chief medical officer of CVS Caremark
  • Richard Epstein, the Laurence A. Tisch Professor of Law at New York University Law School
  • Paul Starr, PhD, professor of communications and public affairs at Princeton University

On Saturday, Nov. 12, sessions will include talks on recent studies of the effects of neighborhoods on health, end-of life issues, the process of ethics consultations, and medical education. Saturday's program will also feature a discussion of a new book, "Open Wound," a historical novel by former ethics fellow Jason Karlawish, a professor of medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. The book examines the professional and ethical issues raised by William Beaumont, a 19th-century surgeon who cared for--and experimented on--a patient with a shotgun-induced hole in his stomach and used this wound as a window to decipher the mysteries of digestion.

The MacLean Center for Clinical Medical Ethics was founded by Mark Siegler, MD, the Lindy Bergman Distinguished Service professor of medicine and executive director of the Bucksbaum Institute for Clinical Excellence at the University of Chicago. 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.

Since its founding in 1984, the MacLean Center has become 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 medical ethics conference will be held at the University of Chicago Law School, 1111 E. 60th Street. Although there is no fee for this conference, attendees are asked to register online at ethicsconference2011.uchicago.edu. For questions, please contact Kimberly Conner at (773) 702-1453 or email mkconner1@medicine.bsd.uchicago.edu.