Dorothy J. MacLean Fellows Conference to focus on ethics of organ transplant, global health and pediatric immunization

Dorothy J. MacLean Fellows Conference to focus on ethics of organ transplant, global health and pediatric immunization

Peter Singer, MD, MPH, CEO of Grand Challenges Canada, awarded $50,000 MacLean Center Prize in Clinical Ethics

November 5, 2012

The MacLean Center for Clinical Medical Ethics will focus its 24th Annual Dorothy J. MacLean Fellows Conference on ethical issues in organ transplantation and other broader ethical topics, including global health, pediatric immunization and end-of-life care.

The centerpiece of the two-day conference -- Nov. 9-10 at the University of Chicago Law School, 1111East 60th St. -- will be the presentation on Saturday, Nov. 10, of the second annual MacLean Center Prize in Clinical Ethics.

This year's recipient of the $50,000 prize, the largest in the field of clinical medical ethics, will be Peter Singer, MD, MPH, senior scientist and professor of medicine at the Sandra Rotman Centre for Global Health at the University of Toronto.

Singer is being honored not only for his work in expanding the study and practice of clinical ethics, but also for his tireless efforts on global health initiatives. Singer serves as a director and CEO of Grand Challenges Canada, an organization that received $225 million from the Canadian government to invest in improving health in developing countries.

University of Chicago President Robert Zimmer, PhD, will present the award at Singer's keynote lecture on Saturday morning, November 10.

"We are proud to present The MacLean Center Prize to our former fellow at the University of Chicago for his pioneering work in clinical ethics and for his extraordinary achievements in developing innovative solutions to some of the world's most pressing global health problems," said Zimmer.

Mark Siegler, MD, director of the MacLean Center, brought Singer to the University of Chicago as an ethics fellow in 1987. After completing the fellowship, Singer went on to build the University of Toronto's Joint Center for Bioethics into one of the world's largest bioethics programs.

"I travelled to Toronto to recruit Peter Singer for our fellowship because I thought he had enormous potential. By the time he returned to Toronto three years later, he had 25 published papers and his career was launched," said Siegler, who is also the Lindy Bergman Distinguished Service Professor of Medicine and Surgery and executive director of the Bucksbaum Institute for Clinical Excellence.

In addition to receiving the award, Singer will moderate one of the Saturday sessions entitled Tackling Global Challenges, a topic that has won Singer much praise and respect. In 2011, Singer co-authored a book entitled "The Grandest Challenge: Taking Life-Saving Science from Lab to Village."

Friday's session, presented by five leading scholars, will focus on transplantation and ethics. Speakers include:

  • Arthur Caplan, New York University: What Strategies Should We Pursue to Get More Solid Organs for Transplant?
  • James Bernat, Dartmouth Medical School: Death Determination in Organ Donors
  • Robert Truog, Harvard Medical School: Another Inconvenient Truth: Are Organ Donors Really Dead?
  • Warren Breidenbach, University of Arizona: Ethics in Composite Tissue Allotransplantation
  • Maria Siemionow, Cleveland Clinic: Ethical Issues in Face Transplantation

Saturday's agenda features a variety of panel discussions with more than 20 presenters, all of whom have been involved with the MacLean Center.

"We are proud that our former fellows are returning to the university to present papers and participate in our conference," said Siegler.

The five sessions examine these major topics:

  • The Crisis in Pediatric Immunization: moderated by Lainie Ross, MD, PhD, associate director of the MacLean Center;
  • Tackling Global Challenges: moderated by Singer;
  • The Art of Healing: moderated by Peter Angelos, MD, PhD, associate director of the MacLean Center;
  • End of Life Care: moderated by Daniel Sulmasy, MD, PhD, associate director of the MacLean Center;
  • Clinical Ethics: moderated by Ross.

The conference is free, but registration is encouraged.

The MacLean Center's commitment to the study of ethics in organ transplants extends beyond the fellows conference.

The 31st Annual Interdisciplinary Faculty Seminar Series is devoted entirely to issues surrounding transplants. The weekly lectures bring the country's top transplant and ethics experts to the University of Chicago throughout the 2012-2013 academic year.

The MacLean Center for Clinical Medical Ethics was founded by Siegler in 1984 to foster a network of clinical scholars worldwide who apply clinical ethics to improve the quality of patient care and patient outcomes.

It has become the largest programs in clinical ethics in the world. More than 300 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. Studies conducted by former MacLean fellows, beginning in the 1980s, have helped open the bioethics field to a new research approach that is now described as "the empirical turn" in bioethics.

In contrast to the 1970s, when Siegler began to develop the field of clinical ethics, this applied practical discipline is now a staple of every American hospital and health care organization.