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Center for Pediatric Bioethics to Be Established in Seattle

December 06, 2004

Children’s Hospital and Regional Medical Center today announced plans to establish the Center for Pediatric Bioethics, the nation’s first center for bioethics solely dedicated to the study of research and healthcare for children.

$340,000 federal appropriation strengthens national commitment for Center

Children’s Hospital and Regional Medical Center today announced plans to establish the Center for Pediatric Bioethics, the nation’s first center for bioethics solely dedicated to the study of research and healthcare for children.

The regional Congressional delegation, in particular United States Senators Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Conrad Burns (R-Mont.) and Congressman Mike Simpson (R-Idaho), worked diligently to secure this special funding to support the Center.

In addition to the federal appropriation, Children’s Hospital has dedicated $1 million in start-up funding to establish the Center with plans for additional funding in succeeding years.

Promoting the highest standards of ethics and protections of patient rights

“The Center is integral to Children’s mission to foster a spirit of inquiry aimed at preventing illness, eliminating disease, and reducing hospitalization and its impact on children and families,” said Treuman Katz, president and CEO of Children’s. “By addressing the complex ethical issues that affect patients, families, healthcare institutions, and research involving children, the Center will promote the highest standards of medical ethics and protections of patient rights in pediatric research and healthcare. We are extremely grateful for the support of Senators Murray, Burns and Congressman Simpson to make this Center a reality.”

The Center will focus on four primary areas of pediatric bioethics:

  • Research in pediatric bioethics.
  • Education of medical students, healthcare professionals and the public.
  • Providing a resource for families and healthcare professionals facing ethical dilemmas in clinical care.
  • Serving as an advocate for children who are receiving care and participating in research.

First of its kind in the nation

“The Center for Pediatric Bioethics will be the first of its kind in the nation, and it will provide a model for the study of policies, practices, and standards in ethical issues in pediatric research and healthcare that can be applied nationally and internationally,” said Norman Fost, M.D., M.P.H., director of the Program in Bioethics at the University of Wisconsin. “This Center has the potential to dramatically increase our understanding of ethical issues in the way healthcare and research for children is conducted.”

The study of pediatric bioethics is particularly important because it requires more than simply adapting the concepts applied to adult healthcare. Delivering healthcare to children and the involvement of children in research raises different questions. For example, the extent in which a child can participate in the decision-making for their healthcare varies with each child and each situation. The relationship and communication that occur between a parent, healthcare provider or researcher, and a child are critical in assuring that the best interests of the child are served.

Exploring key issues in pediatric bioethics

“Building on the strengths of one of the premier children’s hospitals in the nation, the Center will explore key issues faced by healthcare professionals, researchers and parents, and will help to create an environment that supports families in making informed choices about research participation and the use of innovative treatments,” said Wylie Burke, M.D., Ph.D., professor and chair of the Department of Medical History and Ethics at the University of Washington. “Children’s in Seattle has a strong history of commitment to ethics in pediatric healthcare and research. The University of Washington Department of Medical History and Ethics is proud to be closely associated with this new Center.”

The Center’s first undertaking will be to encourage collaboration among national experts in pediatric bioethics by hosting the first annual Conference on Pediatric Bioethics in July – the first of its kind in the nation – the conference will be a forum for institutions, researchers and physicians to discuss the relationship between pediatric research, healthcare and the pharmaceutical industry.

A national resource

“We hope the Center will become a national resource for physicians, researchers, policy makers, parents and patients,” said F. Bruder Stapleton, M.D., pediatrician-in-chief at Children’s and Chairman of the Department of Pediatrics at the University of Washington (UW) School of Medicine. “Working closely with Children’s Hospital administrators, we have initiated the recruitment of a world-class pediatrician-bioethicist to direct the Center and serve as chief of the newly created Division of Bioethics in the UW Department of Pediatrics. In the interim, we have appointed Doug Diekema, M.D., M.P.H., a well known and respected bioethicist, to take on these leadership responsibilities.”

Bioethical challenges facing children, families and health care professionals include:

  • The involvement of children in research.
  • Quality of life for children with terminal illness.
  • End-of-life decision-making.
  • Religious considerations in health care decisions for children.

Working together in the best interest of the child

At the Center for Pediatric Bioethics, experts will assist health care professionals and families with difficult decisions by looking for ways they can work together to determine what is in the best interest of the child. Pediatric bioethics also helps children to participate in their own medical decisions, which can include determining if innovative therapies or participation in research studies is appropriate.

In addition to faculty bioethicists, the Center will be staffed with pediatric-trained patient advocates who will work directly with patients and families to ensure appropriate safeguards and to facilitate and enhance communication with medical and research staff.

About Seattle Children’s

Consistently ranked as one of the best children’s hospitals in the country by U.S. News & World Report, Seattle Children’s serves as the pediatric and adolescent academic medical referral center for the largest landmass of any children’s hospital in the country (Washington, Alaska, Montana and Idaho). For more than 100 years, Seattle Children’s has been delivering superior patient care while advancing new treatments through pediatric research. Seattle Children’s serves as the primary teaching, clinical and research site for the Department of Pediatrics at the University of Washington School of Medicine. The hospital works in partnership with Seattle Children’s Research Institute and Seattle Children’s Hospital Foundation. For more information, visit or follow us on Twitter or Facebook.

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