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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. 

Faculty News

Wylie Burke, MD PhD
We extend our sincere appreciation to Wylie Burke for her service as Chair of the Department of Bioethics & Humanities.  Wylie’s tenure as Chair extended from October 2000 through January 2014 and represents a time of expansion, increased diversity, and enhanced multi-disciplinary collaboration.  We are very pleased that Wylie will continue in her role as Professor in the department.    

Denise Dudzinski, PhD MTS, Acting Chair
Dean Ramsey has appointed Associate Professor Denise Dudzinski to serve as Acting Chair of the Department of Bioethics & Humanities effective February 1, 2014.  Denise is also our Director of Graduate Studies and will retain that role during her tenure as Acting Chair. Please join us in welcoming Denise to her new role.

Deborah J. Bowen, PhD, Professor
The department is pleased to welcome Deb Bowen as professor without tenure for reasons of funding . Deb joins us from Boston University, where she served as Professor and former Chair of the Department of Community Health Sciences in the School of Public Health. Dr. Bowen was formerly on the faculty of the UW School of Public Health and a Member at FHCRC. She brings considerable experience and expertise to this research-oriented position focused on health disparities and behavioral research in a social context. Welcome back to the UW Dr. Bowen.     

Congratulations to Kelly Edwards
Effective October 1, Kelly begins her tenure as Associate Dean of The Graduate School.  Kelly started in this role in an Acting capacity during 2012.  Kelly’s work in The Graduate School focuses on professional development and support for graduate students and post-doctoral fellows.

Congratulations to Adjunct Professor Randy Curtis. J. Randall Curtis, MD, MPH FCC Professor of medicine in the Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine and director of the UW Palliative Care Center of Excellence, has been selected to receive the 2013 Sojourns Award from Cambia Health Foundation (CHF) for his work in palliative care.

click here to see the article.

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 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.


Alumna Jessie Turnbull was featured in the UWMedicine Connections newsletter highlighting members of the Class of 2013.  Read her profile HERE.

We welcome the members of our newest cohort of MA in Bioethics students: Cara Friang and Kate Gentry!  

Michelle Drews, 2013 President's Medal

Michelle graduated as a B H Minor student. She was also a leader in the MEDIC group working closely with Dr. Berryman. Michelle was awared the President's Medal at the UW Awards Ceremony June 13th. The President's Medal is awarded to two graduating seniors who have achieved the most distinguished academic records at the University one to a student who has completed at least three-fourths of his or her degree requirements at the UW and one to a student who entered the University from a Washington community college.

Congratulations Michelle!


Bioethics listserv

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

Faculty/Chair Search

Chair, Department of Bioethics and Humanities
University of Washington School of Medicine,
Seattle, WA

The University of Washington School of Medicine is seeking qualified candidates for Chair of the Department of Bioethics and Humanities. The position is full-time and tenured with appointment at the rank of Associate Professor or Professor...

..for a printable version of the full ad with department fact sheet click here

Bioethics Grand Rounds

Next topic and speaker TBD

Date & Time TBD
Autumn 2014
Turner Auditorium (HSB D209)

We welcome and encourage  everyone to  attend.

Save the Date: 2014 Summer Seminar in Health Care Ethics

The 27th annual Summer Seminar will occur the week of August 4-8, 2014 on the UW campus. To ensure receipt of a brochure, please email Information about the course will be available in the spring at:


Summer Seminar in Health Care Ethics 2013
The 26th summer seminar was held the week of August 5, with Denise Dudzinski and Tom McCormick as Co-Directors.  We were pleased to welcome Howard Brody, MD PhD as featured guest faculty this year.

      Denise Dudzinski, Thomas McCormick

Dr. Howard Brody and Program Directors Dr. Denise Dudzinski and Dr. Thomas McCormick

"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.


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.








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© 2014, Department of Bioethics & Humanities, University of Washington. Email comments or questions to Webmaster. This page last updated April 14, 2014 .