Baylor Hosts Medical Ethics Conference for Practicing Health Care Professionals

June 6, 2007

Media contact: Lori Fogleman, director of media relations, (254) 710-6275

Nationally prominent experts in medical and health care ethics with credentials in law, medicine, philosophy and theology will be among the speakers during Baylor University's annual Medical Ethics Conference on June 8-9 at George W. Truett Theological Seminary on the Baylor campus.

The Medical Ethics Conference is a working forum for practicing health care professionals to explore the pressing moral questions of medicine and health care delivery and to seek a deeper theological understanding of their vocation as God's summons to a life of service. The conference is funded in part through the Baylor Horizons program, an initiative funded by Lilly Endowment Inc. for the exploration of vocation, and co-sponsored by Baylor's Center for Christian Ethics and Institute for Faith and Learning.

"Baylor University has such a wonderful heritage of preparing men and women for health care professions - not only through the study of the physical sciences, but more recently through programs in medical humanities, social work and chaplaincy training," said Dr. Robert B. Kruschwitz, professor of philosophy and director of the Baylor Center for Christian Ethics. "This conference brings together a range of professionals - physicians, nurses, health care administrators, social workers and chaplains - to engage in morally attentive and theologically informed reflection about the vocation of health care. Their ages will span from current Baylor undergraduates to retired alumni and friends. I am looking forward to lively discussions and rich fellowship."

Ethics experts will guide the conference discussions in plenary sessions and small breakout groups. The featured ethicists include:

    Dr. Mary Louise Bringle, chair of humanities division and professor of philosophy and religion at Brevard College, N.C.
    Dr. Therese Lysaught, associate professor of religious studies, University of Dayton
    Dr. Gilbert C. Meilaender, The Richard and Phyllis Duesenberg Professor of Christian Ethics, Valparaiso University
    Dr. David Solomon, The W.P. and H.B. White Director of the Center for Ethics and Culture and associate professor of philosophy, University of Notre Dame
    Dr. Allen Verhey, professor of Christian ethics, Duke University Divinity School
    Dr. Brian Volck, pediatrician and volunteer instructor, Medicine and Pediatric Residency Program, University of Cincinnati

The conference will begin on Friday, June 8, with registration at 11 a.m. in the lobby at Truett Seminary, followed by a luncheon at noon in the Piper Great Hall and an opening address by Allen Verhey on "Reading the Bible in the Strange World of Medicine" at 1 p.m. in the Powell Chapel.

Breakout sessions in Truett classrooms will be held Friday on "Eating Disorders: Resources in the Spiritual Tradition of Gluttony" from 2:30 to 4:15 p.m. and "Suffering: Its Meaning in the Context of a Christian Life" from 4:30 to 6:15 p.m.

A 6:30 p.m. banquet in the Piper Great Hall will be followed by a keynote address by Gilbert Meilaender on "Appeals to Human Dignity" from 8 to 9:30 p.m. in Powell Chapel.

On Saturday, participants will discuss "Medical Treatment for Immigrant Families" from 8:30 to 10:15 a.m. and "Justice of Health Care: Alternative Models for Funding Health Care" from 10:30 a.m. to 12:15 p.m.

Following a luncheon, the event will conclude with conference summation from 1:30 to 2 p.m. in the Piper Great Hall, with David Solomon on "Communities of Moral Discernment."

Baylor faculty members also will serve as discussion leaders during breakout sessions. They all currently serve on the Baylor Advisory Committee for the Medical Ethics Conference:

    Dr. Darin Davis, associate director of the Baylor Institute for Faith and Learning
    Dr. Douglas V. Henry, director of the Baylor Institute for Faith and Learning and assistant professor of philosophy in the Honors College
    Dr. Robert B. Kruschwitz, director of the Baylor Center for Christian Ethics and professor of philosophy
    Dr. James Marcum, director of the Baylor Medical Humanities Program and professor of philosophy
    Dr. Margaret Watkins Tate, assistant professor of philosophy
    Dr. Jonathan Tran, assistant professor of religion

Dr. Michael Attas, medical director of the Hillcrest Cardiovascular Center, is associate director of Baylor's Medical Humanities Program and a part-time lecturer in medical humanities.

For more information about the Medical Ethics Conference, contact the Baylor Institute for Faith and Learning at (254) 710-4805.

Featured ethicists

Dr. Mary Louise Bringle serves as the consultant on eating disorders issues for the Office of Health Ministries, Presbyterian Church USA. The author of Despair: Sickness or Sin?: Hopelessness and Healing in the Christian Life and The God of Thinness: Gluttony and Other Weighty Matters, she has been featured in the video productions "Honest Talk About Eating Disorders" (Office of Bridge Resources, Presbyterian Church USA) and "Inside Hunger" (Georgia Public Television). A popular speaker and an accomplished hymn writer, Dr. Bringle is author of Joy and Wonder, Love and Longing: 75 Hymn Texts.

A former Associate for Religion, Culture and Health Care Ethics at The Park Ridge Center, Chicago, Illinois, Dr. Therese Lysaught's articles have appeared in scholarly journals such as Health Progress, Christian Bioethics, Journal of Medicine and Philosophy, Journal of Palliative Care, The Journal of Health Care Chaplaincy, The Annual of the Society of Christian Ethics, and Journal of Law, Medicine, and Ethics. Currently she serves on the advisory board of the Practicing Bioethics series at Rowman & Littlefield Publisher, and she is editing (with Joseph Kotva) On Moral Medicine: Theological Explorations in Medical Ethics, third edition, and (with David M. McCarthy) Gathered for the Journey: Moral Theology in Catholic Perspective.

A current member of the President's Council on Bioethics and a Fellow of the Hastings Center for Bioethics, Dr. Gilbert C. Meilaender has authored The Theory and Practice of Virtue; Morality in Plague Time: AIDS in Theological Perspective; Faith and Faithfulness: Basic Themes in Christian Ethics; Body, Soul, and Bioethics; Bioethics: A Primer for Christians; and Things That Count: Essays Moral and Theological, and he has recently edited (with William Werpehowski) The Oxford Handbook of Theological Ethics. He has served as Associate Editor for the Journal of Religious Ethics and for Religious Studies Review, and also on the Editorial Boards of the Annual of the Society of Religious Ethics, Dialog, and First Things.

Director of the annual Notre Dame Conference on Medical Ethics since 1986, Dr. David Solomon's research interests have focused on issues in contemporary moral philosophy with special attention to medical ethics. He was the co-author of the first study of the public policy implications of the high court's Roe v. Wade decision, Abortion and Public Policy. His ethics articles have been published regularly in scholarly journals and in journals of public opinion, and he has appeared frequently on television as an ethics expert for such nationally syndicated PBS programs as "The Firing Line" and "Today's Life Choices." Solomon is currently working on a scholarly monograph on the recent revival of virtue ethics and two volumes of essays on medical ethics.

Dr. Allen Verhey is the author of Reading the Bible in the Strange World of Medicine and Remembering Jesus: Christian Community, Scripture, and the Moral Life. He edited Religion and Medical Ethics: Looking Back, Looking Forward; (with Stephen E. Lammers) On Moral Medicine: Theological Perspectives in Medical Ethics; and (with Wayne G. Boulton and Thomas D. Kennedy) From Christ to the World: Introductory Readings in Christian Ethics. Before joining the faculty of Duke Divinity School in 2005, he was director of the Institute of Religion at the Texas Medical Center in Houston for two years and served as the Blekkink Professor of Religion at Hope College for 10 years.

With clinical interests in international child health, international adoption, health care delivery to underserved populations, and cross-cultural medicine, Dr. Brian Volck helped create and continues to teach a literature and medicine elective to fourth year medical students at the University of Cincinnati. Before moving to Cincinnati, he practiced pediatrics for a number of years at the Indian Health Reservation in Tuba City, Ariz. He regularly travels to Clinica Hombro a Hombro in Santa Lucia, Honduras, with Shoulder to Shoulder Inc., to provide medical care. With Joel Shuman, he is author of Reclaiming the Body: Christians and the Faithful Use of Modern Medicine. His poems have appeared in DoubleTake, America, and Sow's Ear Poetry Review.

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