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Weill Medical College Establishes Faculty Associates Program in Medical Ethics

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The Faculty Associates, Division of Medical Ethics faculty, and Weill Cornell staff, from left: Pat Gutter; Dr. Soumitra Eachempati; Dr. Barrie Raik; Dr. Alvin Mushlin; Dr. Frank Miller; Pamela Brumberg, Lucius N. Littauer Foundation; Dr. C. Ronald MacKenzie; Lauren Weisenfeld, Samuels Foundation; Dr. Donna Di Michele; Joseph Mitchell, Samuels Foundation; Dr. Joseph Fins; Cathleen Acres, R.N., M.A.; and Dr. Leonard Groopman.
The Division of Medical Ethics at Weill Medical College has established the Faculty Associates Program in Medical Ethics to better address the needs of patients, families and clinical staff as they confront ethical dilemmas. The Program provides advanced training in medical ethics to some of Weill Cornell's most experienced clinicians, and challenges the notion that medical ethics is an abstraction far removed from the realities of patient care.

Support for the Faculty Associates Program comes from a generous three-year, $640,000 grant from the Fan Fox and Leslie R. Samuels Foundation. A one-year, $27,000 grant from the Lucius N. Littauer Foundation provides support for an additional physician to participate in the Program. Together, this funding allows five practicing physicians to devote 20 percent of their time to further their study of medical ethics; conduct clinical research in ethics as it relates to their individual specialties; and participate in the teaching, research and scholarly activities of the Division. Faculty Associates are selected in a competitive process open to all Weill Cornell physician faculty members.

Dr. Joseph Fins, chief of the Division of Medical Ethics in the Departments of Public Health and Medicine, hopes that the Faculty Associates Program will "tap into the knowledge and experience of skilled practitioners, and help us envision new and better ways of addressing ethical challenges in clinical practice and health policy. By giving these physician-scholars the opportunity to study medical ethics, we hope to better bridge the interface between ethical theory and clinical practice."

Dr. Alvin Mushlin, chairman of the Department of Public Health, says he has been overwhelmed by the number of talented clinicians eager to participate. "The Faculty Associates Program will harness the intelligence and clinical excellence of established and practicing Weill Cornell physicians to explore the ethical dimensions of the clinical encounter and to promote improved patient care."

"Part of the strategic plan of the new Division of Medical Ethics," added Dr. Ralph Nachman, chairman of the Department of Medicine, "is to develop a core infrastructure to expand and extend the presence of medical ethics education, training and research within the Medical College, NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital, the NewYork-Presbyterian Healthcare System, and beyond."

The Division of Medical Ethics, established in January 2001, will lead Weill Cornell's efforts in the conduct of research in medical ethics and coordinate the College's curricular activities in this increasingly critical area of study. Areas of divisional interest include the ethics of health services, of clinical decision-making and care of the terminally ill, resource allocation and health economics, and the ethical dimensions of clinical and basic research.

Faculty Associates Award Recipients

Dr. Soumitra Eachempati, assistant professor of surgery at Weill Medical College, specializing in critical care and trauma. Dr. Eachempati will study the "Do Not Resuscitate" (DNR) order in the surgical intensive care unit and the role played by patients, families, and physicians in planning end-of-life care in that setting.

Dr. Leonard Groopman, assistant professor of clinical psychiatry at Weill Medical College. Dr. Groopman plans to study the culture of death and dying in the Intensive Care Unit, drawing upon his expertise as a psychoanalyst and historian of science.

Dr. C. Ronald MacKenzie, associate professor of clinical medicine at Weill Medical College, specializing in rheumatology. Dr. MacKenzie's primary area of interest is disability, and the ethical dilemmas that arise in patients with chronic, debilitating disease. He is chairman of the Hospital for Special Surgery's Ethics Committee and Institutional Review Board, and is a member of the NewYork Presbyterian Hospital-Weill Cornell Center Ethics Committee.

Dr. Donna Di Michele, associate professor of clinical pediatrics and director of the Regional Comprehensive Hemophilia Diagnostic and Treatment Center. Dr. Di Michele is particularly interested in the ethical dilemmas facing physicians as they become increasingly involved in the recruitment of pediatric subjects for gene therapy trials for hemophilia.

Dr. Barrie Raik, assistant professor of medicine in the Division of Geriatrics and Gerontology, where she directs the Fellowship in Geriatric Medicine. Dr. Raik will seek to develop a practical and ethical framework for routine health maintenance for geriatric patients with cognitive impairment.

For more information about the Division of Medical Ethics, go to www.med.cornell.edu/public.health/ethics or contact the Division at (212) 746-1126.

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