Bioethics

Leadership

Benjamin Wilfond, MD
Professor
Division Chief
Director, Treuman Katz Center for Pediatric Bioethics

Overview

Established in 2005, the Bioethics program encompasses the Treuman Katz Center for Pediatric Bioethics, which is supported by Seattle Children's Hospital and the Division of Bioethics within the Department of Pediatrics at the University Of Washington School Of Medicine.

Our mission is to improve the lives of children and their families by enhancing bioethical deliberations in pediatric health care and clinical research. We:

  1. Provide consultation and education for families, health-care providers, researchers and policymakers.
  2. Conduct research on ethical issues related to pediatric health care and clinical research.
  3. Train the next generation of clinicians and bioethicists about pediatric bioethics.

Our program has partnerships with the Department of Bioethics & Humanities at the University of Washington’s School of Medicine, as well as the schools of Law, Nursing, and Public Health and Community Medicine.

For more information about the Division of Bioethics at the University of Washington or the Treuman Katz Center for Pediatric Bioethics please contact our administrative office at (206) 884-8355.

Clinical Programs

The Bioethics Consultation Service provides consultation for families, clinicians, researchers and policy makers. Our advice is grounded in analytical reasoning and supported by knowledge of the law, policy and empirical data. We emphasize communication, mediation and practical problem solving. The Seattle Children’s Hospital Ethics Committee oversees the Bioethics Consultation Service.

Clinical Bioethics Consultations are available for ethical issues related to patient care or clinical policies at Seattle Children’s Hospital. The Seattle Children’s Hospital Ethics Committee provides oversight for this service. Clinical consultations can be obtained by calling the paging operator at (206) 987-2000.

Research Bioethics Consultations are available to advise families, research staff and investigators who have questions about designing or conducting clinical research. We also advise the Institutional Review Board (IRB), which regulates human subjects research. Consultations are provided as part of the Regulatory Support and Bioethics (RSB) core of the Institute for Translational Health Sciences. Research consultations can be obtained by calling (206) 598-6477 or by emailing rsbcore@u.washington.edu.

Research Programs

Bioethics scholarship draws on the work of many disciplines including philosophy, law, and social and behavioral sciences. It uses conceptual and empirical social science approaches to evaluate the reasons and arguments used in making moral judgments.

Our goal is to address these issues with methodological rigor rather than to advocate for a particular moral or political position. Bioethics can inform regulations and policies at institutional, state and national levels.

Key topics and related questions include:

Clinical Bioethics
How should doctors respond to parents who are hesitant to vaccinate their children?

Research Bioethics
How should we include children who are wards of the state in research studies?

Global Health
How should we address ethical and social justice challenges related to global prevention of prematurity and stillbirth?

Genetics
How can we improve parent and child understanding about participating in genetic research and biobanks?

Bioethics Education
How can we best teach healthcare providers about ethical issues?

Training Programs

We are committed to training clinicians for academic careers in bioethics to ensure that the next generation of scholars, teachers and consultants are able engage in pediatric bioethics issues, and to encourage medical students and residents to consider careers in bioethics.

The Clinical Bioethics Fellowship Program is a two-year program that trains physicians in bioethics with an emphasis on pediatrics issues in the clinical and research arenas. The goal of the fellowship is to prepare fellows for academic careers with an emphasis on scholarship in pediatric bioethics. Fellows will conduct an independent research project, participate in clinical consultations and will be expected to enroll in a master’s program in Bioethics.

The program is sponsored by the Treuman Katz Center for Pediatric Bioethics at Seattle Children’s, and the Division of Bioethics in the Department of Pediatrics at the University Of Washington School Of Medicine. Fellows will benefit from collaborations with the University of Washington Department of Bioethics and Humanities, School of Medicine and School of Public Health.

For more information, please visit the Bioethics Fellowship webpage.

Educational Programs

We are committed to engaging students and health-care professionals in reasoning and problem solving that draws heavily on the knowledge base of ethics-related disciplines using a variety of educational strategies. Education is fundamental to keeping an open mind in examining ethical issues and putting them into perspective. Our interactive programs reach a wide range of audiences. We sponsor weekly seminars and quarterly Grand Rounds, and we host an annual national pediatric bioethics conference. Case-based instructional materials are available on our Web site.

Clinical Pediatric Bioethics Education and Outreach
Includes ongoing educational programs for medical students, residents and fellows. We also offer lectures and case-based discussion for pediatric bioethics issues to providers throughout the WWAMI region that includes Washington, Wyoming, Alaska, Idaho and Montana.

Web-Based Teaching Guides
To increase our impact, we have developed pediatric bioethics Web-based educational modules that will include a series of case-based teaching modules. Four modules are available online.

Grand Rounds
Each year the Center sponsors three case-based presentations at Grand Rounds at Seattle Children's.

Pediatric Bioethics Conference
The annual Pediatric Bioethics Conference is the capstone of our educational program. It provides continuing education for individuals in the Seattle community, the Pacific Northwest and throughout the nation. We create a forum for invited guest faculty and participants to have meaningful discussions about complex and controversial issues.

The Thin Ethical Line: When Professional Boundaries and Personal Interests Collide will be held on July 27 and 28 in Seattle.

Past conferences can be accessed here.