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Manzano Standing in Solidarity image

Image designed by UW student Megan Manzano, used with permission

The divisive and exclusionary tenor of the presidential campaign has, for some, sanctioned hateful rhetoric, discrimination, and violence.  These acts violate human rights as well as our core commitments to equality, inclusion, and diversity.  They have no place in our society, much less our campus community. 

While the election highlighted divisions among us, it also strengthened our resolve to treat one another with respect and kindness. The Department of Bioethics & Humanities has faith in the kindness and good will of our students and colleagues.   In bioethics and the humanities more broadly, we routinely invite students, clinicians, and researchers to share their religious, political, professional and cultural values; to articulate reasons for the positions they hold; and to understand and describe the perspectives of those with whom they disagree.  This engages not only critical thinking, but compassion. 

In light of recent events, many individuals on campus have expressed concern that they are not welcome because of race, gender, religion, intellectual and physical capabilities, immigration status, sexual orientation, or gender identity.  In response, the Department of Bioethics and Humanities would like to send a strong message. Everyone is invited and welcomed in our Department, classrooms, and community. The outcome of the election also underscores the needs of those who have felt marginalized in other ways – due to diminishing job opportunities and economic insecurity.  You are also welcome in our Department, classrooms and community.  We are all strengthened by the full participation of people from many different backgrounds, cultures, and belief systems. 

President Ana Mari Cauce & Dr. Jerry Baldasty said it best: “Our University is unwavering in its resolve to create an inclusive, diverse and welcoming community. We can and will work together to find the best in each other, to bridge our differences and to treat each other with the respect and kindness that all people deserve.” 

The faculty & staff of the Department of Bioethics & Humanities
University of Washington School of Medicine pdf version of this flyer

Department of Bioethics Diversity Statement (pdf)

About the Department of Bioethics and Humanities

Welcome to the Department of Bioethics and Humanities. The primary strength of the department is its rich, talented, interdisciplinary nature, which is a function of the faculty.  Capitalizing on this strength and expanding the visibility of the department has emerged as a key goal for us. 

The Department provides academic education and professional training in bioethics and humanities through an MA in Bioethics; an undergraduate Minor in Bioethics and Humanities; curricula in clinical ethics and professionalism for medical students, residents, and fellows; and sponsored continuing education activities for practicing health care professionals.

The Department of Bioethics & Humanities is committed to excellence in teaching, scholarship, and community service.  Integral to this commitment is promoting diversity and making our programs attractive to traditionally under-represented individuals.

Our faculty represent diverse scholarly disciplines, including medicine, genetics, philosophy, health services, religious studies, education, pathology, history, and other areas.  We partner with faculty from the schools of medicine, law, nursing, pharmacy, public health, social work and the college of arts and sciences. Faculty publications explore a wide range of areas, including the ethical, legal and social implications of genetics and genomic research; community-based participatory research; social justice and access to health care; social inequalities in health and health disparities; medical error;  and palliative and end of life care.
Our graduate students bring training and experience from a variety of fields, including medicine, law, nursing, social work, physician assistant studies, dentistry, and other areas. 


Department & Faculty

Q&A with chair of UW Department of Bioethics & Humanities

In March, Denise Dudzinski was named the new chair of the UW Department of Bioethics & Humanities, a Dudzinski-head-shot-2015small department that works on big issues – end-of-life care, responsible conduct of research and social justice. “Ethics provides a kind of scaffolding and language for the moral life. It helps people see moralissues from a variety of perspectives and better understand the reasons that people sometimes – quite reasonably – disagree with each other. We hope this promotes better understanding and tolerance.” Dudzinski said her moral awareness started at an early age when her family moved to Riyad, Saudi Arabia. Find out more about the department through a Q&A with the chair. 

Jack Berryman Receives Prestigious Literary Award

Jack W. Berryman, Ph.D., Professor Emeritus, Departments of Bioethics & Humanities and Orthopaedics & Sports Medicine, School of Medicine, received the Roderick Haig-Brown Literary Award from Fly Fishers International at their 52nd annual meeting in Livingston, Montana last month. The award inscription: “Presented to Jack Berryman whose literary works embody the philosophy and spirit of fly fishing ethics, conservation and the rich history of the sport.” Since 1964, FFI has been an organized voice for fly fishers around the world and represent all aspects of the sport from the art of fly-tying and casting to protection of the natural systems that support healthy fisheries and their habitats. Berryman was only the 16th recipient since the award is only given when a worthy candidate is identified. As a freelance author, Berryman has published over 300 articles in a wide variety of adventure, travel, and fishing magazines. His book, Fly-Fishing Pioneers & Legends of the Northwest, won the Best Book Award in 2007 from the Outdoor Writers Association of America.

Congratulations to Professor Wylie Burke on winning the 2014 UW Medicine Award for Excellence in Mentoring.  The award, initially sponsored by UW Medicine's National Center for Excellence in Women's Health, recognizes the need for mentoring of women faculty by all faculty and will be presented by Dean Ramsey to Dr. Burke on June 5, 2015.  Twenty-two mentees submitted letters of support in nominating Dr. Burke for this well-deserved award.   To read the UW Medicine News piece click here.

Other News

We recommend  Tom McCormick’s article “The Ethics for Doctors in Helping a Patient Die” in the Opinion pages of The New York Times.

Read about Adjunct Professor Doug Diekema’s perspective on childhood vaccination policy in Washington state in this article by Brian Donohue in the Health Sciences NewsBeat.

Faculty Wylie Burke, Denise Dudzinski, Nancy Jecker, Tom McCormick and adjuncts Mark Sullivan, Mark Tonelli, Ben Wilfond, and Doug Diekema have been featured in a series of artilces "Bioethics Q&A series: Facing today's dilemmas" by Brian Donohue in the Health Sciences NewsBeat.



Are you interested in receiving information about bioethics events, lectures, discussions, and news of interest? Click here to subscribe to our bioethics listserv.

Graduate School Program Review of Bioethics & Humanities   

The Department Program Review site visit has concluded. We look forward to the Site Visit Committee final report, recommendations, and advice.

The Site Visit Committee members were Dr. Rachel Chapman, UW Anthropology (chair); Dr. Andrea Woody, UW Philosophy; Dr. Leonard Fleck, Center for Ethics & Humanities in the Life Sciences, Philosophy, Michigan State University; and Dr. Pilar Ossorio, Law & Bioethics, University of Wisconsin. We are extremely grateful for their time, effort, and thoughtfulness in getting to know our people and mission.

Thank you to the Graduate School, School of Medicine Leadership, our wonderful faculty, adjunct faculty, staff, and outstanding undergraduate and graduate students who participated in the process.


“The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks” Movie Screening & Expert Panel Discussion"

Thursday, October 12, 2017  
6:30 p.m. - 9:00 p.m.

Kane Hall Room 130
4069 Spokane Lane
Seattle, WA 98105

Presented by the UW School of Public Health

Dr. Wylie Burke, professor emeritus Bioehtics & Humanities will be a panelist

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks is the story of a poor black tobacco farmer whose cells – taken without her knowledge in 1951 – became one of the most important tools in modern medicine. “HeLa,” as the cells came to be known, proved vital for developing the polio vaccine and were used in scientific discoveries such as cloning, gene mapping, in vitro fertilization and more. Beyond the medical advances, the story is also about ethics, race, poverty and the legal issues around human subject research. (click here to continue reading for details...)

[Dr. Kelly Edwards, Dr. Malia Fullerton, and Sue Trinidad have developed a discussion guide for use with Rebecca Skloot's book,"The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks". Click here to download the guide. ]

Save the Date: 2018 Summer Seminar in Health Care Ethics

The 31st annual Summer Seminar will occur the week of July 30-August 4, 2018 on the UW campus. To ensure receipt of a brochure, please email cme@uw.edu. Information about the course will be available in the spring at:  http://depts.washington.edu/cme/home/

Click here to view the 2017 brochure.

Pioneer Medicine: Milestones from Seattle’s First Century, 1850-1950

John Gerhard, Jack Berryman, Lisa Oberg at Bodemer Exhibit 2016

Gerhard, Berryman, Oberg showcasing Bodemer Exhibit

A beautiful showcase of Dr. Bodemer’s collection of medical instruments and historical documents.  With Professor Emeritus Jack Berryman’s vision, John Gerhard’s leadership, and Lisa Oberg’s curation the result was a compelling and impressive collection, expertly catalogued, displayed, and explained.   This is a fitting tribute to the history faculty who originated and built the Division of Biomedical History.  Without them, we would not be the Department of Bioethics and Humanities today.  We're glad that students, historians, and citizens will have access to these historical artifacts and documents. Click here for more info.


Congratulations to Bioethics Minor Mira Naidoo, recipient of a 2017 UW Husky 100 student award. The Husky 100 truly reflect the students across our campuses. They are undergraduates who came to the UW straight from high school or transferred from community college. They are graduate students returning in the midst of successful careers. They have founded start-ups, conducted undergraduate research and advocated for social justice. They work on campus and in our communities. They are leaders and innovators. http://www.washington.edu/husky100/#name=mira-naidoo . More about the award can be found here.

Congratulations to MA Bioethics Alum Danae Dotolo, who has been selected as one of six 2016-2017 Magnusson Schoolars!

    A quote from her Scholar profile states "Danae is uniquely poised to undertake this work. Her background in research, her understanding of the health care system, and her interest in deeply theorizing her work all demonstrate her capacity to be one of the important social welfare scholars of the next generation.”

Here’s the direct link to the full articlet:

SOM Curriculum Renewal

The faculty in Bioethics & Humanities are pleased to be participating in the ongoing School of Medicine Curriculum Renewal process for the MD program. During the Visioning Phase, 2011-July 2012, our then Chair Wylie Burke chaired the Vision Committee which was tasked with defining the guiding principles for the renewal process.  During  the Steering Phase (October 2012  - April 2013),  B&H faculty served on several committees:  Dr. Burke chaired the Governance Committee and served on the Steering Committee,  Erika Blacksher served on the Health Equity Committee, and Kelly Edwards chaired and Denise Dudzinski was a member of the Ethics and Professionalism Committee. During the current Design phase, Dr. Burke continues to Chair the Governance Committee and serve on the Steering Committee and Kelly Edwards serves on the newly formed Integrated Themes Committee. Denise Dudzinski now co-directs the Ethics and Professionalism curriculum design.


Have you seen the online American Medical Association's Journal of Ethics? It is a great resource for ethical issues, case studies, ethics polls, and podcasts.

The United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization has launched a project titled Global Ethics Observatory. It is a world-wide network of databases in bioethics and in other areas of applied ethics including lists of experts in the field of ethics, ethics institutions, ethics teaching programs, and a database of legislation, guidelines and regulations relating to ethics.

Open Spaces: Views from the Northwest is a quarterly magazine for voices from the Northwest that speak with knowledge and insight to issues affecting people in every region. It is created in Seattle, Washington and Portland, Oregon. Open Spaces offers perceptive articles as well as thought provoking stories, essays and poetry on many subjects including medicine, politics, publishing, culture, law, science, music, business, art, education, health, sleep, food, travel and gardening.

"The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks"

Dr. Kelly Edwards, Dr. Malia Fullerton, and Sue Trinidad have developed a discussion guide for use with Rebecca Skloot's book,"The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks". Click here to download the guide.

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