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Nation's First Pediatric Bioethics Center Names Director

April 10, 2006

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

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 www.seattlechildrens.org or follow us on Twitter or Facebook.

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