Annual medical ethics conference focuses on health disparities

November 8, 2010

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 Friday November 12, from 1 to 5 pm, and Saturday, November 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. Please email or call Kimberly Conner at 773-702-1453.

The University of Chicago Medicine
950 E. 61st Street, Third Floor
Chicago, IL 60637
Phone (773) 702-0025 Fax (773) 702-3171