Past Events

  • So You Want to Be a Good Physician? Reflections on the Challenges of Medical Education and Service to Others

    Wednesday, November 8, 2017 - 5:00pm to 6:00pm
    • Special Event
    Farr Curlin, MD, Duke University School of Medicine; Lydia Dugdale, MD, Yale University School of Medicine; Warren Kinghorn, MD, Duke University School of Medicine; John Yoon, MD, University of Chicago School of Medicine



    What does it mean to be a “good” physician?  What sorts of moral formation can take place in medical school education? What does it mean to see medicine as a “vocation” and how does the practice of medicine have a moral dimension to it? These are hard, important questions that anyone planning on medical school (or already in medical school) should give time to contemplate. In this public panel, four experts from medical schools around the country will weigh in on these and other questions.

    Co-sponsored with the Kenan Institute for Ethics at Duke University

  • Brain Death, Organ Donation, and the Dead Donor Rule: Contemporary Controversies

    Tuesday, November 7, 2017 - 5:00pm to 6:00pm
    • Topics in Medical Ethics Lecture Series
    Melissa Moschella, PhD, Director, Center for Biomedical Ethics, Department of Medicine, Columbia University


    Recently, prominent ethicists have challenged the validity of long-established brain death criteria and argued that the dead donor rule for transplantation should be abandoned. In this talk, Professor Moschella will review recent clinical cases, scientific developments, and ethical arguments that bear on these questions. She will argue, against a growing tide of professional opinion, that brain death really is death and that, therefore, the dead donor rule is well justified. She will briefly explore whether an alternative ethical justification could be given for removing vital organs from imminently-dying, life-support-dependent patients.

  • Can Obamacare Survive the Trump Administration?

    Wednesday, September 27, 2017 - 5:00pm to 6:00pm
    • Topics in Medical Ethics Lecture Series
    Jonathan Oberlander, PhD, Chair, Department of Social Medicine; Professor of Health Policy & Management, University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill


    Seven years after its enactment, the Affordable Care Act remains mired in controversy and partisan division.  How is the ACA actually working?  What is its future--repeal, replace, or repair?  Could a new bipartisan consensus on health care policy emerge?   This talk will explore recent political struggles over Obamacare as well as the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead for health care reform.

    See video recording.

  • A Tale of Two Cities? The History of Duke Health and Durham's Health

    Tuesday, September 19, 2017 - 12:00pm to 1:00pm
    • Humanities in Medicine Lecture
    Jeffrey Baker, MD, PhD, Director, Trent Center for Bioethics, Humanities & History of Medicine


    Since opening in 1930, Duke Hospital has evolved into an internationally recognized health care system. Yet it was founded with a primary mission to improve the health of its local community.  Historians in recent years have explored Durham’s history from many angles, revealing a city that has at various times embodied hopes for racial progress and raised the spectre of class division. How does this history help us to understand Durham’s health disparities? Can it shed light on why Duke’s research commitments are sometimes viewed with suspicion? This talk will argue that any meaningful effort to understand our local community and bridge its legacies of distrust must start with an understanding of its history and Duke Health’s role within it.

    See video recording.

  • Psychiatric Advance Directives and the Right to Be Deemed Incapable

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    Wednesday, May 17, 2017 - 5:00pm to 6:00pm
    • Topics in Medical Ethics Lecture Series
    Marvin Swartz, MD, Professor and Head, Division of Social & Community Psychiatry; Director, Duke AHEC Program, Duke University School of Medicine


    Psychiatric Advance Directives (PADS) are legal documents that permit individuals with mental illnesses to declare their consent, refusal, preferences and instructions for future mental health treatment or to appoint a surrogate decision maker through Health Care Power of Attorney in advance of an incapacitating psychiatric crisis....

    See video recording.


  • Physician Aid-in-Dying: Within or Outside the Boundaries of Good Medicine?

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    Tuesday, April 25, 2017 - 5:45pm to 7:45pm
    • Endowed Lectureships
    Timothy E. Quill, MD, Georgia and Thomas Gosnell Distinguished Professor of Palliative Care; Professor of Medicine, Psychiatry, Medical Humanities and Nursing, University of Rochester School of Medicine and Farr A. Curlin, MD, Josiah C. Trent Professor of Medical Humanities; Co-Director of the Theology, Medicine and Culture Initiative, Duke University


    In the 2017 Emerson Lecture, two physicians, both of whom teach medical ethics and practice palliative medicine at leading academic medical centers, debated whether the practice of physician aid-in-dying belongs as part of medical care. Click here for presentation.

  • Technology, Hope, and Motherhood: What We Can Learn from the History of the Infant Incubator

    Tuesday, April 11, 2017 - 5:00pm to 6:00pm
    Jeff Baker, MD, PhD, Director, Trent Center for Bioethics, Humanities & History of Medicine; Professor of Pediatrics, Duke University School of Medicine

    Sponsored by the History of Medicine Collections in the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library

  • Medicine as Remembering: The Bodies We Touch, The Stories We Tell

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    Tuesday, April 4, 2017 - 12:00pm to 1:00pm
    • Humanities in Medicine Lecture
    Brian Volck, MD, Assistant Professor of Pediatrics in the Division of Hospital Medicine at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center


    At the heart of clinical medicine lies the history and physical, rendering in words the patient’s experience and the practitioner’s sensory impressions in search of a diagnosis and therapeutic plan. The clinician starts with a body and ends with a story: a means to re-member the patient for herself and her colleagues, a foundation for any healing work. Using clinical encounters, poetry, and medical narrative, Dr. Volck explores medicine as attentive presence and storied practice, an ongoing dance of observation, action, and memory.

  • The Art of Falling: What Narratives Written by Older Adults Reveal about Human Balancing Acts

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    Wednesday, March 22, 2017 - 12:00pm to 1:00pm
    • Humanities in Medicine Lecture
    Jane Thrailkill, PhD, Director, English MA Program in Literature, Medicine and Culture and Health Humanities Lab (HHIVE), University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill


    Falling is recognized as a serious risk for elderly individuals, often marking the transitional moment where living independently gives way to assisted or nursing home living. An analysis of first-person narratives reveals insight about the ways older adults manage not just aging bodies and challenging environments but also existential aspects of “falling” into new identities late in life. Falling, this archive suggests, provides the occasion for philosophical reflection as well as practical problem-solving.

    See video recording.