June 2015

Greenwall Faculty Scholars Class of 2018

We are pleased to announce the Greenwall Faculty Scholars

                                                                 Class of 2015 - 2018

Mara Buchbinder, PhD is Assistant Professor of Social Medicine at University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, School of Medicine.  Her project is “Clinical Ethics, Communication, and Physician Aid-in-Dying”:

Legislative support for physician aid-in-dying in the United States has risen steadily in recent years. Much of the bioethical scholarship on this topic has focused on whether it is ethically permissible. Yet once physician aid-in-dying is legal, new ethical questions emerge concerning clinical communication and the patient-provider relationship. This project carries out ethnographic research in Vermont, which legalized physician aid-in-dying in 2013, to: 1) document how terminally ill patients, family members and caregivers, healthcare providers, and policy stakeholders have responded and adapted to the legalization of physician aid-in-dying; 2) identify and describe the ethical challenges that physician aid-in-dying raises for clinical communication about end-of-life care and the patient-provider relationship; and 3) develop an empirically grounded ethical framework for patient-provider communication about physician aid-in-dying, and disseminate it to physicians, professional organizations, and patient advocacy groups. By incorporating qualitative perspectives on the everyday realities of end-of-life care into ethical analysis, Dr. Buchbinder expects to generate novel insights into the ethical implications of physician aid-in-dying and its impact on clinical communication and the patient-provider relationship.

Jeremy Greene, MD, PhD is Associate Professor of Medicine and the History of Medicine at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.  His project is “Medicine At A Distance: The Recurring Ethical Challenge of Telemedicine”:

Dr. Greene’s project examines how changing expectations of instantaneous communications through electric, electronic, and digital media transformed the nature of medical knowledge. Most histories of medical technology focus on heroic diagnostic and therapeutic innovations—like X-rays and artificial hearts—which stand as visible symbols of medical modernity. Dr. Greene’s research is focused on recapturing how more mundane technologies of communication enabled and altered new medical practices, from telegraph to text pager, telephone to telemedicine, fax machine to Facebook.

Douglas J. Opel, MD is Assistant Professor of Pediatrics at the Treuman Katz Center for Pediatric Bioethics at Seattle Children’s Hospital.  His project is “When Parents Refuse or Delay Childhood Vaccines: Implications for Shared Decision-Making”:

Although more parents are refusing or delaying vaccines for their child, continued widespread use of vaccines is critical to maintain community immunity and protect the public from childhood infectious diseases. At the heart of vaccine refusal is an old tension between the common good and individual choice, but there is little consensus on how to navigate this tension in vaccine practice and policy. Should pediatric providers respect a parent’s refusal or seek a compromise by encouraging some vaccines over others? Or should they take a stronger stance? Similarly, should school vaccine policies allow parents to opt their children out of required vaccines, or should these exemptions be removed altogether? The overall goal of this project is to evaluate the appropriateness of current practice and policy strategies in the childhood vaccine context, such as the use of shared decision-making and opt-outs, in order to develop a new approach to parental refusal of vaccines that is ethically defensible, preserves parental trust in vaccines, and protects public health.

Monica Peek, MD is Associate Professor of Medicine at the University of Chicago.  Her project is “Shared Decision-Making Among Vulnerable Populations: The Confluence of Bioethics, Health Disparities and Medical Decision-Making”:

African Americans and other vulnerable populations suffer disproportionately from disparities in health care and health outcomes. Dr. Peek’s project combines bioethics, medical decision-making and health disparities empirical research to improve the health of vulnerable populations. Her aims are: 1) To explore physician beliefs, attitudes and behaviors regarding race and culture, and evaluate how it affects the patient/provider relationship, particularly with regard to shared decision-making and the balance of patient autonomy and physician beneficence, 2) To explore physician beliefs, attitudes and behaviors regarding the bioethical principle of distributive justice, particularly as a means to address health disparities, and the perceived role/responsibilities of individual physicians to address racial disparities in healthcare and health outcomes within the United States, and 3) To develop theory-driven, evidence-based strategies that improve how physicians interact with racial/ethnic minorities, encourage doctors to take a shared decision-making approach with patients, and ultimately reduce health disparities.

Jessica L. Roberts, JD is Associate Professor of Law at the University of Houston Law Center.  Her project is “Genetic Property & Personhood: The Role of Ownership in Genetic Research”:

Who should own genetic and genomic data?  Despite the common intuition that a person’s unique genetic profile belongs to her, traditionally, members of the biotechnology industry have had exclusive ownership over the genetic and genomic information they accumulate. Regardless of the status of the laws and regulations, individuals continue to express the sense that their DNA is their own and that they should enjoy certain ongoing rights in their genetic and genomic data, including commercial interests. This asymmetry of rights has led to highly publicized feelings of exploitation, such as the story of Henrietta Lacks. Prof. Roberts’s project revisits issues of genetic and genomic ownership in light of recent social, scientific, legal, and regulatory developments. Given the changing landscapes of both law and science, now is a crucial time to reevaluate how we allocate ownership interests in genetic and genomic information. She hopes that her project will help strike the proper balance between the interests of genetic and genomic data holders and the contributors of DNA.