In addition to its degree programs and education provided to students throughout the University, the Center for Bioethics and Health Law provides continuing medical ethics and research ethics education to professionals throughout their careers. Through its annual Medical Ethics Update conference and Ira A. Messer Lecture, members of the University and regional community receive up-to-date information on a bioethics topic of current interest from national and local experts. Throughout the year the Center presents a medical humanities lecture series (Medical Humanities Mondays), colloquia, and, in collaboration with departments and schools of the health sciences, hosts Visiting Professors in Bioethics. The Center's Consortium Ethics Program, is the premier health care ethics education network in western Pennsylvania and serves the surrounding tristate area.
Consortium Ethics Program
Founded in 1990, the Consortium Ethics Program (CEP) is a nationally acclaimed ethics education network that educates representatives from participating health care institutions in the language, methods, and literature of health care ethics. Its members become on-site resource personnel sharing their education in medical ethics throughout their institutions. Member institutions form a network, which facilitates sharing of ethics resources and experience in a cost effective manner. Members receive direct support from the CEP in meeting the ethics needs of their institution, and have access to the educational resources and consultative services of the Center and its faculty. Read more »
Visiting Professors in Bioethics
For many years, the School of Public Health and the Departments of Medicine, Obstetrics/Gynecology, and Pediatrics have co-sponsored national experts in bioethics to give Ethics Grand Rounds and colloquia, and to meet with faculty, trainees, and students. In 2016, the Departments of Hematology/Oncology and Human Genetics have joined in bringing visiting faculty to campus. Continuing education credit in law and medicine is available for many of these lectures.
Medical Ethics Conference/Ira R. Messer Memorial Lecture
Since 1991, this annual conference has focused on a bioethics theme or pressing issue. Past topics have included ethical issues related to women’s health, obesity, organ transplantation, use of electronic medical records, research ethics, medical mistakes, conflicts of interest, long-term care, different faith traditions, ethics consultation, and the end of life.
The Ira R. Messer Fund of the Pittsburgh Foundation supports a national or international conference speaker. The lectureship is endowed by Mr. Messer’s family. Born in 1903, Mr. Messer immigrated to the United States from Austria in 1911. He graduated from the University of Pittsburgh in 1927 with a degree in chemistry, despite having previously dropped out of high school to support his family. The Messer Lecture is accompanied by other plenary lectures and concurrent sessions with local and national faculty drawn from a range of clinical and academic disciplines. Continuing legal and medical education credit may be obtained for attending the conference.
Clinical Research Ethics & Design Talks—CRED Talks—is a forum in which researchers and ethics consultants discuss the integration of ethical considerations into various study designs either to address required components of RFAs (requests for applications) or to address ethical concerns arising in the study design. For many years, Center faculty have collaborated with investigators to address design issues, evaluate inclusion/exclusion criteria for enrolling participants, develop innovative informed consent processes, and review human subjects protections sections of research proposals. In CRED Talks, investigators and their collaborators from the Center discuss these projects and address questions from fellow investigators about such ethics consultation. These ethics consultations frequently develop into collaborative research relationships. Further, because recent funding announcements from the NIH and some mechanisms require that investigators include an ethics research component (or ELSI—ethical, legal, social implications—research component) that relates to the primary scientific aims of the study, such collaborations and consultations are sought with increasing frequency.