MacLean Center for Clinical Medical Ethics tackles critical end-of-life issues during annual interdisciplinary lecture series

The MacLean Center for Clinical Medical Ethics at the University of Chicago will focus on end-of-life issues during its 33rd annual interdisciplinary lecture series that kicked off earlier this month.

The focus of the presentations – 28 in all – is timely and relevant for health care practitioners who are contending with an ever-changing clinical landscape that poses new ethical dilemmas.

“In the past 50 years, medicine has developed new and unprecedented technologies, like breathing machines, dialysis, and intensive care units, that can prevent or delay death,” said Mark Siegler, MD, Director of the MacLean Center. “These technologies have changed how people die, where people die and physicians’ and nurses’ responsibilities to dying patients. End-of-life questions remain difficult for patients, families, health professionals and society.”

This year’s faculty seminar series brings together local and national experts to address controversial ethical issues in care at the end of life. Speakers include:

  • Susan Tolle, MD, an internist and geriatrician at Oregon Health & Science University, who was a pioneer in the Physicians Orders for Life Sustaining Treatment (POLST) movement;
  • Jennifer Temel, MD, Harvard Medical School;
  • Daniel Callahan, PhD, The Hastings Center;
  • Timothy Quill, MD, University of Rochester
  • Peter Ubel, MD, Duke University;
  • Richard Epstein, LLB, New York University and University of Chicago;
  • Diane Meier, MD, Center for Advanced Palliative Care, Icahn School of Medicine
  • Tomas Philipson, PhD, The Harris Center of Public Policy, University of Chicago
  • Bill Meadow, MD, PhD, The MacLean Center;
  • Dan Brudney, PhD, The Maclean Center;

Atul Gawande, MD, a New York Times best-selling author who’s also a surgeon at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and a professor at the Harvard School of Public Health and the Harvard Medical School, spoke about his new book, “Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End,” to a sold-out crowd in October.

This year’s seminar series was organized by Siegler, the Lindy Bergman Distinguished Service Professor of Medicine and Surgery, and Daniel Sulmasy, MD, PhD, Associate Director of the MacLean Center and the Kilbride-Clinton Professor of Medicine and Ethics in the Department of Medicine and Divinity School.

“The age-old issues of suffering, death, caring, and the limits of medicine have found new expressions that require new answers,” said Sulmasy. “We hope these lectures will help shape debate about these critically important questions.”

All sessions meet Wednesdays from 12:00 pm to 1:30 pm in Room P-117 at the University of Chicago Medical Center. Registration is encouraged and is available at

A complete list of lectures and their dates can be found here.

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