Greenwall Faculty Scholars Program

Program Committee


R Alta Charo, JD

1. What professional activity or accomplishment are you most proud of?

I worked to protect embryonic stem cell research from political backlash: advising Jamie Thomson, working on the National Bioethics Advisory Commission reports, working in 2001 to forestall congressional cloning bans, helping to initiate and lead the National Academy of Science’s effort to draft national guidelines, and helping draft President Obama’s executive order.

2. In your work, how have you engaged with people who face bioethics dilemmas in their professional activities or personal lives?

The most profound experience of my life was the six years spent helping to care for a dear friend who had Lou Gehrig’s disease, as her friend, as a legal expert on patient rights and as a bioethics expert on end of life choices

3. Who has been affected by your work in bioethics?

Through service on an Institute of Medicine committee that cleared a maternal-transmission-prevention trial of allegations of ethical misconduct, there are many children in Uganda and other parts of Africa who have been born free of HIV.

4. What do you view as the greatest strength of the Greenwall Faculty Scholars Program?

Identifying the most creative new thinkers in the field and helping them find the space and inspiration to do great work, for themselves and for the rest of us.

Jason Karlawish, MD, Chair

1. What professional activity or accomplishment are you most proud of?

Two to three times a week, I receive an email from a busy clinician – a hospital discharge planner, psychologist, physician, an adult protective service investigator – asking for a copy of the Assessment of Capacity for Everyday Decision-making (ACED), an instrument I developed to assist in deciding whether a cognitively impaired older adult is able to decide how best to manage a functional problem. There are also requests for talks and trainings on capacity assessment. My colleagues and I developed the ACED, beginning with a conceptual model that guided the development of our validated instrument. I’m thrilled at how this research engages professionals working with older adults suffering from late life cognitive impairment. This and other projects – the voting rights of nursing home residents, disclosing genes and biomarkers in Alzheimer’s prevention trials – are examples of moving from the normative to the practical and, as needed along the way, bringing to the effort, social science methods. 

2. In your work, how have you engaged with people who face bioethics dilemmas in their professional activities or personal lives?

In my younger and wilder days, I marched in to the room knowing what was good to be done, and then I decided to change it up. I started listening and looking for the story. I strive to get inside of their world, feel it and then say back what I learn, along with some ideas. And then I listen some more. And so on until we sort of arrive at what’s the problem and a plan.

3. Who has been affected by your work in bioethics?

Out of my work as a writer, physician and a researcher, I hope I’ve helped some older adults and their families live with and make sense of aging and disease, especially as aging and disease chip away at autonomy, a hard won and late arrival in the history our values.

4. What do you view as the greatest strength of the Greenwall Faculty Scholars Program?

We don’t simply build careers as change lives, making a cadre of collegial and collaborative risk takers, who are willing to engage, listen and learn.

Bernard Lo, MD

1. What professional activity or accomplishment are you most proud of?

Chairing an Institute of Medicine committee that issued a report on conflicts of interest (COIs) in clinical care, biomedical research, medical education, and practice guideline development. It reconceptualized COIs as situations with unacceptable probabilities of undue influence and was used by sponsors of the Physician Payments Sunshine Act to build support for a publicly accessible database of drug and device payments to physicians. In turn, this database has allowed journalists and researchers to analyze the scope of industry payments to physicians and the impact of such payments. To gain acceptance for new ways of thinking about COIs, I have addressed medical professional organizations and worked with leaders of several academic health centers regarding their COI policies.

2. In your work, how have you engaged with people who face bioethics dilemmas in their professional activities or personal lives?

My work on decision-making near the end of life grew out of my clinical work caring for patients and teaching residents and students providing inpatient care. My normative work on clinical bioethics has tried to provide practical guidance on such difficult decisions as withdrawing or withholding life-sustaining interventions – guidance that did not exist when I was a resident.

3. Who has been affected by your work in bioethics?

Physicians and nurses, researchers, leaders of biomedical institutions, and ultimately patients, their families, and research participants. I am always moved when a former student, physician or a layperson tells me that what I said or wrote helped them make a difficult decision.

4. What do you view as the greatest strength of the Greenwall Faculty Scholars Program?

Forming exciting collaborations with people trained in other disciplines. Hearing about and making suggestions about cutting-edge research on topics very different from what I am working on. Being there for people in times of big decisions, setbacks, and grief.

Amy Lynn McGuire, JD, PhD

1. What professional activity or accomplishment are you most proud of?

In the four years that I have been Director of our Center we have increased our operating budget by almost 200%, including an 80% increase in external research funding. We have doubled our Center’s faculty from 6 to 12 and have increased the total size of the Center from 14 faculty and staff in 2012 to 40 in 2016. Most importantly, we have been able to recruit and retain some of the best talent, both at the faculty level and on our administrative and research teams.

2. In your work, how have you engaged with people who face bioethics dilemmas in their professional activities or personal lives?

With compassion and humility. All of my research is conducted in close collaboration with clinicians and scientists who are struggling with bioethics dilemmas in their own work. It requires a high degree of trust and respect for us to be able to work together. I feel honored to have colleagues who care more about doing the right thing than about getting ahead as quickly as possible.

3. Who has been affected by your work in bioethics?

I hope that my work has contributed to larger policy discussions in the area of genomics and emerging technologies. However, one of the most rewarding aspects of what I do is the opportunity to have a positive impact on students and other trainees.

4. What do you view as the greatest strength of the Greenwall Faculty Scholars Program?

As an alumna, I am forever indebted to the Greenwall Faculty Scholars Program. The mentorship I received from the Program Committee, the friendships and collaborations I made with fellow scholars, and the growth that I experienced as a bioethicist and as a person have made the Greenwall Faculty Scholars Program the single most important influence of my academic career.

Daniel P Sulmasy, MD, PhD

1. What professional activity or accomplishment are you most proud of?

Well, I’d probably need to say that I am most proud of my patient care, even though I am mostly an academic. I have been particularly enriched by the experiences I have had in caring for dying patients. Most don’t need ethics consults. They need someone who will accompany them, listen to them, and faithfully attend to their very basic needs. When patients thank me, or families thank me, it makes all the hassles of practice worthwhile.

2. In your work, how have you engaged with people who face bioethics dilemmas in their professional activities or personal lives?

I’ve now probably been directly involved in over 300 ethics consults. I also receive lots of telephone calls from people all over the country who are grappling with personal bioethical dilemmas. It can be very emotional and draining work, but it is invaluable to those affected and rewarding for me. These decisions are never easy and never should be. The moment turning off a ventilator becomes like turning of a light switch it is time to hang up the stethoscope and go home. But to help people navigate moral dilemmas, often on the border between life and death, is a real privilege. I pray that I remain worthy of the trust that all these people place in me.

3. Who has been affected by your work in bioethics?

Part of what makes the work exciting is that so many different kinds of people have been impacted. Clinical bioethics has an obvious, immediate, and direct impact on the lives of patients and their families. My writing and speaking have also had a tremendous impact on a wide group of people. Clinicians have told me that books I have written have been life-changing for them. That will make anyone’s day. Other clinicians have come up to me after lectures and thanked me for putting into words what they always felt to be right, just, and true. That makes being a bioethicist, in part, being a minstrel for the moral and clinical instincts of good physicians. That’s a role I’m happy to fulfill. But my work has also been cited in court briefs, I’ve given legislative testimony nationally and internationally, and I’ve served on bioethics commissions on the state and national levels. Bioethics: bedside to global. Who could ask for more?

4. What do you view as the greatest strength of the Greenwall Faculty Scholars Program?

The strength of any such program is the scholars themselves. Programs like this are investments in people. The Greenwall scholars are smart, articulate, and generous. I learn from them at every meeting. Each is individually great, but they also form a community of scholars. They work on side-projects together, support each other, and, together, make something that is greater than the sum of its parts. I’m proud to be a part of the Greenwall family.

Keith A Wailoo, PhD

1. What professional activity or accomplishment are you most proud of?

I value working at the intersection of History of Medicine and public affairs in a wide variety of venues where questions of ethics, cultural values, and policymaking converge.  Over my career, this intersection has taken many forms – teaching (in a Social Medicine department of a medical school, in History, and in a public policy school); contributing to National Academy committee reports addressing controversial issues in organ donation or genetics; writing on health and health care policy for scholarly and general audiences; and engaging in an array of other settings with practitioners and scholars who are themselves pushing the boundaries of their fields to address wide ranging questions in health and society.

2. In your work, how have you engaged with people who face bioethics dilemmas in their professional activities or personal lives?

My work on the history and politics of chronic pain has given me the opportunity to engage with care givers, patients, students, and policy makers in different public and professional settings about the vexing ethical dilemmas in pain care; I teach courses on such topics as Genetics and Public Policy, and Race, Drugs, and Drug Policy which push students to understand how social values and ethical commitments inform the shaping of genetics or drug policy – topics inevitably touching on issues of privacy, justice, morality, ideology, and so on.

3. Who has been affected by your work in bioethics?

My teaching has shaped students; my scholarship has shaped the thinking of scholars and practitioners, as well as policymakers and the general public.  Recently, for example, I spoke at a Congressional staff briefing on drugs and drug reform as Congress deliberated over opioid and prescription drug legislation.  To me, these settings are all venues where fruitful (and one hopes, effective) bioethics work can, and should, be done.

4. What do you view as the greatest strength of the Greenwall Faculty Scholars Program?

One of the greatest strengths of the Greenwall program is its commitment to developing excellence in engaged bioethics research – in a program where scholars are encouraged both to sharpen their research and to expand the reach of their work in medicine, health care, and public policy by interacting with, and learning from, a wider disciplinary range of talented scholars and mentors.