Speakers

SEAN AAS, PHD

Dr. Aas is a Senior Research Scholar at the Kennedy Institute of Ethics and an Assistant Professor in the Philosophy Department at Georgetown. His primary areas of research are bioethics, metaethics, and social and political philosophy, with a significant focus on issues of disability: disability as social construct, disability and political egalitarianism, disability and health. Dr. Aas earned a PhD in philosophy from Brown University in 2013, and served as a Fellow at the Justitia Amplificata Project at Goethe University in Frankfurt and a Fellow at the Department of Clinical Bioethics in the Clinical Center of the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda prior to joining the Kennedy Institute of Ethics.

SESSION ABSTRACT:

Disability

The social model of disability tells us that disabilities like blindness, paraplegia and autism spectrum disorder are as much social problems as health problems. In this session we will ask: how do we know whether something is a social problem, or a health problem? What is health, anyway, and what does it have to do with functioning in the world as patients find it? This session will explore philosophical conceptions of health and disability, in hopes of understanding what it could mean for a person with a disability to count as fully ‘healthy’.

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TOM BEAUCHAMP, PHD

Dr. Beauchamp is Emeritus Faculty at The Kennedy Institute of Ethics and Georgetown University. His research interests are in the ethics of human-subjects research, the place of universal principles and rights in biomedical ethics, methods of bioethics, Hume and the history of modern philosophy, and business ethics. In 2004, he was given the Lifetime Achievement Award of the American Society of Bioethics and Humanities (ASBH) in recognition of outstanding contributions and significant publications in bioethics and the humanities.

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LAURA J. BISHOP, PHD

Dr. Bishop is Associate Teaching Professor and Academic Program Manager at the Kennedy Institute of Ethics. Her research interests include the role of the family in medical decision making, bioethics education in secondary schools, resources for teaching ethics, and curriculum development. She helps high school teachers through the Institute’s High School Bioethics Curriculum Project, and has served as an ethics consultant and speaker for the Northwest Association for Biomedical Research’s ongoing education workshops for high school teachers.

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JAMES GIORDANO, PHD, MPhil

James Giordano.

Dr. Giordano is Professor in the Departments of Neurology and Biochemistry, and Chief of the Neuroethics Studies Program of the Pellegrino Center for Clinical Bioethics, Georgetown University Medical Center.  He is Chair of the IEEE Brain Initiative Sub-program in Neuroethics, and serves as a senior advisor to a number of US and international organizations and governmental agencies.

SESSION ABSTRACTS:

Neuroethics

Neuroscience is enabling ever more precise assessment and engagement of brain functions. Tools and methods of the brain sciences are being developed and used to not only to diagnose and treat an expanding range of neuropsychiatric conditions, but also in educational, lifestyle,legal, and national security applications. Such research and uses foster a number of ethical, legal and social issues, and are generating debates about how these developments should be addressed, guided, and governed.. This lecture describes new developments in the brain sciences, the neuroethical issues they generate, and ways that such questions and problems are being addressed in international contexts.

Disability

Emerging developments in science and technology are being used to evaluate and modify human structure and capabilities, and in these ways, are prompting reconsideration and revision of definitions of normality, functionality, and ability. These technical capabilities, and revised definitions incur social, economic, and legal effects for individuals, groups, cultures, and society at-large. This lecture presents current concepts of health, normality, optimization, and diversity, examines the ways that new scientific methods are being applied to human form and function, and explores the ethical issues and address of treatment, prevention, enhancement, and selection.

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JOHN KEOWN, DPHIL, PHD, DCL

Dr. Keown is a Senior Research Scholar in the Kennedy Institute of Ethics at Georgetown University, where he holds the Rose F Kennedy Chair in Christian Ethics. He was previously University Senior Lecturer in the Law and Ethics of Medicine in the Faculty of Law at the University of Cambridge. He has produced seven books and many articles, mainly on law and ethics at the beginning and end of life. His research has been cited by distinguished bodies worldwide, including the United States Supreme Court and the Law Lords.

SESSION ABSTRACT:

Voluntarily Stopping Eating & Drinking

This session will explore the question when, if ever, the refusal of food and water by a patient constitutes suicide and when, if ever, a physician’s palliation of any suffering associated with such a refusal constitutes assisting suicide. Those questions will be analyzed in the context of guidance to healthcare professionals issued by the Royal Dutch Medical Association and the Dutch Nurses Association in 2014 on how to assist patients to end their life by refusing food and water.

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MAGGIE LITTLE, BPHIL, PHD

Dr. Little is a Senior Research Scholar at the Kennedy Institute of Ethics, and Professor of Philosophy at Georgetown. Widely published, a Rhodes Scholar and fellow of the Hastings Center, she has twice served as Visiting Scholar in residence at the National Institutes of Health Department of Bioethics, and was appointed to the Ethics Committee of the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology. Among her other projects, she has co-founded The Second Wave Initiative, which works to promote responsible research into the health needs of pregnant women, launched the KIE’s Introduction to Bioethics MOOC in April 2014. She is founder and director of Ethics Lab, a unique team of Philosophers and Designers at Georgetown University that develops new methods to help people build ethical frameworks to better address real-world problems.

SESSION ABSTRACT:

An Introduction to Bioethics

Bioethics brings important concepts and tools to bear on issues in clinical, research, and public health contexts. This lecture will introduce participants to the range of ethical concepts and questions that lie at the heart of bioethics.

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DAVID G. MILLER, PHD

David G. Miller is the Associate Director for Academic Programs and Administrator for the Center for Clinical Bioethics at the Georgetown University Medical Center, where he directs the bioethics courses for first- and second-year medical students. He served as a senior research analyst for both President Obama’s Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues and President Bush’s President’s Council on Bioethics. The philosophy courses he taught most recently at Georgetown are Philosophy of Medicine (with Dr. Pellegrino) and Bioethics and Public Policy. Current issues in bioethics that interest him most include conscience/refusal clauses, health care reform, and professionalism and bioethics education in medical schools.

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MELISSA MOSCHELLA, PHD

Melissa Moschella is Assistant Professor of Philosophy at The Catholic University of America, where her teaching and research focus on natural law, biomedical ethics, and the moral and political status of the family. Her book, To Whom Do Children Belong? Parental Rights, Civic Education and Children’s Autonomy was published in 2016 by Cambridge University Press. Dr. Moschella speaks and writes on a variety of contemporary moral issues, including brain death, end-of-life ethics, parental rights, reproductive technologies, and conscience rights.

SESSION ABSTRACT:

Definition of Death

There has been significant controversy in recent years regarding the validity of neurological criteria for the determination of death. In the face of evidence indicating that sometimes brain dead bodies can be maintained on life support for weeks, months or even years, many have argued that brain death is not truly the death of the human organism as a whole. This presentation offers an overview of the controversy and provides a philosophical defense of the claim that brain death is death because the death of the brain marks the irreversible loss of the capacity for organismal self-integration.

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ALLEN H. ROBERTS, II, MD, MDiv, FCCP, FACP

Dr. Roberts is a Professor of Clinical Medicine and Associate Medical Director at MedStar Georgetown University Hospital.

SESSION ABSTRACT:

Medical Interventions:  What Should We Stop and When?

Whereas 80% of Americans hope to spend their last days at home, in America today less than 20% actually do so, and a large number die in hospitals, either during or following a stay in the Intensive Care Unit. This lecture is delivered from the perspective of the intensive care physician, and walks the participants through the process of engagement with patients, families and surrogate decision makers when the focus of intensive care transitions from curative to palliative. We will look at dynamics of family engagement, the ethics of the withdrawal of life-sustaining treatments, the preparation of families for the death of their loved one, and the sequence of that process itself.

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MYLES N. SHEEHAN, SJ, MD

Dr. Sheehan is a Jesuit priest, physician, and  lecturer in the Pellegrino Center for Clinical Bioethics.   Trained in Internal Medicine and Geriatrics, he practiced in these fields and served until 2009 as the Senior Associate Dean at Loyola University Chicago’s Stritch School of Medicine and the Ralph P. Leischner Professor and Chair of the Leischner Institute for Medical Education.   From 2009 to 2014 Fr. Sheehan was the Provincial for the New England Province of the Society of Jesus and from 2015 to currently he serves as the Provincial Delegate for Senior Jesuits for the Maryland and USA Northeast Provinces of the Society of Jesus. His interests include end of life care, care of older persons, spirituality in healthcare, and medical education.

SESSION ABSTRACT:

End of Life Decision-Making

Making decisions about the care of persons facing the end of life involves the person who is dying, those who may speak for them, the doctor and the health care team, and, sometimes, the law and the courts. Considering these choices differs depending on if dying is expected or is the result of a sudden illness or accident. Preparing for these decisions can entail the use of documents like durable power of attorney for health care, living wills, and MOLST forms. Requests for assisted suicide and euthanasia can also occur as persons face the end of life. This session will consider preparing for the end of life, developing goals for end of life care and tailoring medical interventions to meet these goals, briefly address the issues in acute and unexpected life threatening emergencies, as well as reflect on the notion of a good death and how health care professionals can be part of such a process.

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CLAUDIA RUIZ SOTOMAYOR, MD, DBE

Dr. Claudia Sotomayor, currently works as Clinical Ethicist at the Pellegrino Center for Clinical Bioethics, and Adjunct Assistant Professor of Internal Medicine of GUMC. She holds an M.D. from Universidad Autonoma de Chihuahua, in Chihuahua, Mexico. She also graduated with a Master’s degree in Bioethics from Anahuac University in Mexico City, and she graduated with a Doctorate in Bioethics from Loyola University in Chicago Il, USA. Claudia also completed a fellowship in Clinical Bioethics at MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston TX. (USA). She has been a Research Scholar for UNESCO Chair in Bioethics and Human Rights since 2012 where she has worked in the area of Multiculturalism, Bioethics and Religion. She has also served as a member of the Ethics committee in different hospitals in the USA. Before coming to the USA, she worked in different hospitals in Mexico as a primary care physician, and was the health committee coordinator for FUNDESPEN, a non-profit that provides medical care to Mayan communities in rural areas of Quintana Roo, Mexico.

SESSION ABSTRACT:

Ethics Committees and Consultation

A Hospital Ethics Committee (HEC) is an independent organism of an institution that is formed by medical providers and other professionals, and its function is to defend the dignity, security, integrity and rights of the person. Hospital Ethics Committees were created to restore the anthropological unity that was in danger to be lost in the extensive medical specialization and technology. HECs have three major roles: policy analysis, education and consultation services. Improving HECs services, especially the consultation services and education, has a positive impact in the institution. There is evidence that an active consultation service decrease length of stay and costs. Also, increasing ethics consults volume improves physician and nurse’s perceptions of quality of care (Hardart and Lipson 2016). However, the consultation services aren’t used as frequently. The national average is of 3 to 8 consults per year (Coutrwright et al. 2014). It has been proven though that the presence of Clinical Ethicists during rounds, and around the hospital, improves the awareness and therefore the usage of the ethics consultation services. Currently, ASBH is endorsing the certification of clinical ethicists, but the process has some issues to be discussed and analyzed during this presentation.

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KAREN STOHR, PHD

Dr. Stohr is Ryan Family Term Associate Professor of Metaphysics and Moral Philosophy at Georgetown University and Senior Research Scholar at the Kennedy Institute of Ethics. Karen has significant research interests in social conventions and the role they play in ethics. Her latest book, Minding the Gap (Oxford University Press, 2019), focuses on the task of individual and community moral improvement and the role of social practices in facilitating it.  Her first book, On Manners (Routledge, 2011), is a defense of the moral importance of manners.

SESSION ABSTRACT:

Virtue Ethics

Virtue ethics is known for its emphasis on moral character. The central idea behind virtue ethics is that rather than trying to develop a list of moral rules, we should focus on identifying and developing important virtues. Such virtues will enable us to act well and make better decisions in all kinds of situations and environments. This session will cover the theoretical foundations of virtue ethics and address the following questions: What virtues do health care practitioners need most? How do those virtues contribute to wiser decisions? How can we cultivate these virtues in ourselves and each other?

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DANIEL P. SULMASY, MD, PhD

Dr. Sulmasy is Acting Director of the Kennedy Institute of Ethics and a Senior Research Scholar. Dr. Sulmasy holds a joint appointment at the Pellegrino Center for Clinical Bioethics. He is the inaugural Andre Hellegers Professor of Biomedical Ethics, with co-appointments in the Departments of Philosophy and Medicine at Georgetown. His research interests encompass both theoretical and empirical investigations of the ethics of end-of-life decision-making, ethics education, and spirituality in medicine. He has done extensive work on the role of intention in medical action, especially as it relates to the rule of double effect and the distinction between killing and allowing to die. He is also interested in the philosophy of medicine and the logic of diagnostic and therapeutic reasoning. His work in spirituality is focused primarily on the spiritual dimensions of the practice of medicine. His empirical studies have explored topics such as decision-making by surrogates on behalf of patients who are nearing death, and informed consent for biomedical research. He continues to practice medicine part-time as a member of the University faculty practice.

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ROBERT M. VEATCH, PHD

Dr. Veatch is Professor of Medical Ethics Emeritus and a Senior Research Scholar at the KIE. Dr. Veatch has worked extensively on death and dying, human experimentation, and organ transplantations. From 1981 to 1982 he served as a consultant to the President’s Commission for the Study of Ethical Problems in Medicine and Biomedical Research. In 2008 he received the Lifetime Achievement Award of the American Society of Bioethics and Humanities, and delivered the prestigious Gifford Lectures at the University of Edinburgh, speaking on “Hippocratic, Religious and Secular Medical Ethics: The Points of Conflict”.

SESSION ABSTRACT:

Transplantation Ethics

The transplantation of human organs continues to raise profound ethical questions that just won’t go away, perhaps because the issues touch on some of the most basic moral problems in bioethics. Current, often new, issues will be examined in two main categories (1) When is it ethical to procure an organ? For example, should terminally ill persons be permitted to donate organs before they die that would normally prolong life and can organs be procured from high-risk donors such as those with HIV or hepatitis-C? (2) What allocation of organs is ethical? For example, should recipients needing two organs (such as heart and lung) have equal claim or should those organs be used to save two people.  Should organs be allocated to those most likely to benefit (often younger and healthier people) or does justice require equal access? Should the elderly have an equal claim? What about those who need an organ because of life-style choices such as smoking and alcohol consumption. Justice, utility, and autonomy come into conflict dramatically in organ transplant.

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RESEARCH SPECIALISTS

Make sure to visit our Bioethics Research Library for a one-on-one research consultation with one of our specialists if you’ve got a project or topic in mind! Home to more than 100,000 pieces of print and audiovisual materials, the Library is the world’s largest collection of scholarly bioethics materials in the world. Meet the specialists who’ll be ready to work with you at this year’s IBC below.


ROXIE FRANCE-NURIDDIN, BA

Ms. France-Nuriddin is the Collection Curator for English language resources for the Islamic Medical and Scientific Ethics collection and database, a joint project of the Bioethics Research Library and the Georgetown School of Foreign Service Library in Qatar. She joined the KIE with more than fifteen years experience as an editorial project manager and researcher for a popular scholarly press.

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PATRICIA MARTIN, MA

Patty is the Technical Services Manager for the Bioethics Research Library. She is responsible for coordinating the acquisitions and technical services for the library, and assists as needed with special projects, reference requests, and student worker training. She also helps coordinate the BRL’s access services and seeks to improve and expand these services and policies. Patty has been with the KIE for over ten years, and has worked to develop and sustain partnerships with the Georgetown libraries and the Washington Research Library Consortium (WRLC).

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