Nation's First Pediatric Bioethics Center Names Director

Children’s Hospital in Seattle Selects Dr. Benjamin Wilfond as Director of the Treuman Katz Center for Pediatric Bioethics

Children’s Hospital in Seattle Selects Dr. Benjamin Wilfond as Director of the Treuman Katz Center for Pediatric Bioethics

Children’s Hospital today named Benjamin Wilfond, MD, as director of the Treuman Katz Center for Pediatric Bioethics and chief of the Division of Pediatric Bioethics in the Department of Pediatrics at the University of Washington (UW). This is the nation’s first center dedicated solely to the study of ethical issues related to research and health care for children, and the first Division of Pediatric Bioethics in a Department of Pediatrics at a medical school.

“Dr. Wilfond’s appointment is the result of an extensive, international search for the highest caliber physician-researcher and educator with the unique combination of medical leadership and demonstrated commitment to pediatric bioethics,” said F. Bruder Stapleton, MD, pediatrician-in-chief at Children’s Hospital and chairman of the Department of Pediatrics at the UW School of Medicine. “His experience and reputation ensures that the center will become a valuable forum for patients, families, researchers and physicians from across the country to collaborate and discuss vital ethical issues.”

Currently, Dr. Wilfond is head of the Bioethics and Social Policy Unit in the Behavioral and Social Research Branch at the National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI). He is the founder and chair of the NHGRI Institutional Review Board. He is also the head of the Section on Ethics and Genetics in the Department of Clinical Bioethics at the National Institutes of Health Clinical Center. Additionally, Wilfond is an adjunct associate professor for the Department of Health, Behavior and Society, at the Bloomberg School of Public Health at Johns Hopkins University and a visiting associate professor at the Department of Pediatrics, School of Medicine at Johns Hopkins University.

“While bioethics has often been at the edge of pediatric practice, the unprecedented institutional support from Children’s Hospital creates potential for the center to become the driving force to move bioethics into the mainstream of pediatric scholarship and clinical practice,” said Wilfond.

“I am excited about this opportunity because of the unique environment created by Children’s Hospital and the Department of Pediatrics at UW School of Medicine, which has already had a presence in pediatric bioethics for more than a decade,” said Wifond. “The commitment from Children’s to create a center to study the ethical issues related to pediatric health services delivery, research and genetics will improve the health care environment for children and their families.”

Dr. Wilfond received his undergraduate degree from Muhlenberg College in Allentown, Pa. and his medical degree from the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey in Newark, N.J. He completed his pediatrics residency at the University of Wisconsin Hospital and Clinics in Madison, Wis. and fellowship in pediatric pulmonary and medical ethics at the University of Wisconsin in Madison, Wis.

About the Treuman Katz Center for Pediatric Bioethics

Launched in December 2004 as a resource for patients, parents, health care providers and researchers, the center’s purpose is fourfold:

  • To promote scholarship on ethical issues related to pediatric health services delivery, pediatrics research, and genetics
  • To train the next generation of pediatricians and bioethicists about pediatric bioethics
  • To provide consultation and collaborative services to families, health care providers, researchers and policymakers about pediatric bioethics
  • To improve pediatric bioethics practices and policies on a national and international level

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

The center was named last year by Children’s Hospital’s Board of Trustees to honor retiring CEO Treuman Katz, in recognition for his interest in pediatric bioethics.

The conduct of vaccine research in the developing world and the response to parents who refuse vaccines for their children in the US will be debated at the Center’s second annual conference July 14 and 15 in Seattle. For more information about the Center or the annual conference, please visit Bioethics.

About Seattle Children’s

Seattle Children’s Hospital, Foundation and Research Institute together deliver superior patient care, advance new discoveries and treatments through pediatric research, and raise funds to create better futures for patients. Consistently ranked as one of the top 10 children’s hospitals in the country by U.S. News & World Report, Seattle Children’s Hospital specializes in meeting the unique physical, emotional and developmental needs of children from infancy through young adulthood. Through the collaboration of physicians in nearly 60 pediatric subspecialties, Seattle Children’s Hospital provides inpatient, outpatient, diagnostic, surgical, rehabilitative, behavioral, and emergency and outreach services to families from around the world.

Located in downtown Seattle’s biotech corridor, Seattle Children’s Research Institute is pushing the boundaries of medical research to find cures for pediatric diseases and improve outcomes for children all over the world. Internationally recognized investigators and staff at the research institute are advancing new discoveries in cancer, genetics, immunology, pathology, infectious disease, injury prevention, bioethics and much more.

Seattle Children’s Hospital and Research Foundation and Seattle Children’s Hospital Guild Association work together to gather community support and raise funds for uncompensated care, clinical care and research. The foundation receives nearly 80,000 gifts each year, from lemonade stand proceeds to corporate sponsorships. Seattle Children’s Hospital Guild Association is the largest all-volunteer fundraising network for any hospital in the country, serving as the umbrella organization for 450 groups of people who turn an activity they love into a fundraiser. Support from the foundation and guild association makes it possible for Seattle Children’s care and research teams to improve the health and well-being of all kids.

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