Calendar of Events

March 20, 2018 -
12:00pm to 1:00pm
MUH - 7 Main Auditorium

Katy Butler
Family caregiver, journalist, and author of Knocking on Heaven's Door

Medicine Grand Rounds


March 20, 2018 -
4:30pm to 5:30pm
Hillman Library - First Floor Thornburgh Room

Kenneth F. Schaffner, MD, PhD
Distinguished University Professor of History & Philosophy of Science
Abstract:  Is human behavior genetically determined?  Dr. Schaffner will address this question when he discusses his book Behaving: What's Genetic, What's Not, and Why Should We Care?  The book examines the nature-nurtue controversy and also presents cases involving pro and con arguments for genetic testing for IQ and for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).

March 23, 2018 -
8:30am to 4:30pm
Scaife Hall - 11th Floor Conference Center  -  Registration

Drug use, particularly the opioid epidemic, threatens the health and well-being of entire regions, communities, families, and individuals. Addressing the epidemic requires action at multiple levels from individual provider practices to state and national policies. At each level, ethical and legal issues arise. Simultaneously, blockbuster (and budget busting) new drugs promise life-saving and quality-of life enhancing benefits to patients suffering from chronic and acute conditions, but threaten the fiscal viability of our healthcare system. The pharmaceutical industry’s social roles indeed raise ethical concerns about the health of our research and regulatory infrastructures and about transparency within the provider-patient relationship. This conference features three lectures in the morning with concurrent breakout sessions in the afternoon on ethical concerns regarding: substance using pregnant women, medical use of marijuana, conflicts of interest, adherence to cancer treatment, policy to guide valve replacement practices for patients with opioid use disorders, and pharmacogenomics.

Ira R. Messer Lecture:

Combatting the High Price of Drugs: What does patient empowerment have to do with it?
Peter A. Ubel, MD
Madge and Dennis T. McLawhorn University Professor
Duke University

Plenary Lecture
The Role of Healthcare Financing in Causing (and Curbing) Opioid Abuse
Valarie Blake, JD, MA
Associate Professor of Law
West Virginia University

Keynote Lecture:
Pain Management and Subjectivity in a Climate of Distrust: The Case of Opioid Contracts
Daniel Z. Buchman, MSW, PhD
Bioethicist, University Health Network
Assistant Professor, Dalla Lana School of Public Health, University of Toronto

Registration is now open.  Continuing education credit in law, medicine and social work is available.

March 23, 2018 -
12:00pm to 1:30pm
1414 Cathedral of Learning

How are individuals with disabilities treated within the healthcare system? How applicable are the labels of ‘disabled’ and ‘healthy’ to the same bodies? And to what extent does the ‘healthy U’ presuppose an ‘ableist U’?

Cori Frazer is an Autistic and queer/nonbinary activist and director of the Pittsburgh Center for Autistic Advocacy. Cori is currently pursuing their master’s degree in social work with an emphasis on community organizing at Edinboro University of Pennsylvania and serving as an intern with the Education Rights Network, an education justice project of One Pennsylvania which focuses on dismantling the systemic causes of school-to-prison pipeline and ameliorating its impact on students of color and students with disabilities.

Jeff Bennett is an Associate Professor at Vanderbilt University. Jeff is currently completing a book-length project that investigates the rhetoric of diabetes management.  That work, tentatively titled Critical Conditions: The Cultural Politics of Diabetes Management (NYU Press), argues that diabetes’s public character is not simply a product of medical knowledge that stems from epidemiology and endocrinology, but a condition whose meanings are organized by culture, constituted through communicative practices, and distinctly realized in varying public spheres.  He is also launching a research project about the origins and consequences of pre-exiting conditions clauses and their impact on healthcare deliberations.  Jeff’s first book, Banning Queer Blood: Rhetorics of Citizenship, Contagion, and Resistance, engaged the federal donor deferral policies that prohibit queer men from giving blood.  His work has also appeared in the Quarterly Journal of Speech, Communication and Critical/Cultural Studies, the Journal of Medical Humanities, and Critical Studies in Media Communication.       

RSVP required by March 12th to, please include any accommodation requests and dietary restrictions. Lunch provided. 

Co-sponsored by the Year of Healthy U; Departments of Communication, English, and Department of Sociology; Rhetoric Society of America, Cultural Studies Program, Humanities Center, and Students for Disability Advocacy.

Disability Studies Reading Group

March 26, 2018 -
4:30pm to 5:45pm
602 Cathedral of Learning

Amy Speier (University of Texas at Arlington)
Dr. Speier is a medical anthropologist specializing in reproductive health, globalization and medical tourism.  In August 2016, her book Fertility Holidays: IVF Tourism and the Reproduction of Whiteness was released by New York University Press.  This research is based on a multi-sited, multi-year ethnographic project with North Americans who travel to the Czech Republic for assisted reproductive technologies.  In the book she traces North American fertility journeys to the Czech Republic, examining the multiple motivations that compel them to travel halfway acorss the globe in their quest for parenthood.  Dr. Speier's current reserach is an examination of couples from all over the world who are traveling to North America seeking fertility treatment.  She is currently recruiting international intended parents, seeking to unravel the myriad ways that they navigate the complex reproductive industry of North American's "baby business".

March 26, 2018 -
7:00pm to 8:30pm
602 Cathedral of Learning

Comments by:
Larry Davis, PhD, Dean of the School of Social Work
Lisa S. Parker, PhD, Director, Center for Bioethics & Health Law
Elizabeth Pitts, PhD, Assistant Professor of English

Abstract: Her name was Henrietta Lacks, but scientists know her as HeLa. She was a poor black tobacco farmer whose cells—taken without her knowledge in 1951—became one of the most important tools in medicine, vital for developing the polio vaccine, cloning, gene mapping, and more. Henrietta's cells have been bought and sold by the billions, yet she remains virtually unknown, and her family can't afford health insurance. This phenomenal New York Times bestseller tells a riveting story of the collision between ethics, race, and medicine; of scientific discovery and faith healing; and of a daughter consumed with questions about the mother she never knew. This panel discussion will consider the book as a work of science writing, as well as a work that raises issues of research ethics and of race.

This event is the result of a partnership of the Humanities Center, the Center for Bioethics & Health Law’s Medical Humanities Mondays series, and CCAC’s “One Community Reads” Program. Reception to follow.

March 28, 2018 -
8:00am to 5:00pm
University Club

Abstract: This cross-disciplinary conference on family and health will examine the role of the family in education, health, caregiving, and social support, and in shaping beliefs about sickness, health, and medicine, as well as in shaping health behaviors. More information is available here; registration will open in 2018.

March 29, 2018 -
1:00pm to 3:00pm
548 William Pitt Union

This symposium will feature two panels. The first, Patients as Custodians of Personal Health Data, will address the following questions: How can patients best manage their health with data and insights?  How much the information be safeguarded to accelerate the growth of this sector?  The second, Connected Care Technologies’ Impact on Clinical Care, will address these: How are clinicians using the information from various e-health modalities, such as telemedicine, home monitoring devices, and wearables?  How much do the practitioners trust the data and insights?  Are they really helping bridge the access gap?  How are payers approaching these technologies?

Sponsored by the Healthcare Clubs at Carnegie Mellon University’s Heinz College and Tepper School of Business

March 29, 2018 -
2:30pm to 4:45pm
University Club 123 University Place

Dr. Thomas Parran:  An Overview of His Career
Gregory J. Dober, MA
Adjunct Professor, Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine (LECOM) Erie, PA

Escaping Melodrama: What do we do about the "bad" men in the Studies in Tuskegee and Guatemala
Susan Reverby, PhD
Marion Butler McLean Professor Emerita in the History of Ideas, Wellesley College
Fellow, Crime and Punishment Workshop, Charles Warren Center,
Harvard University, 2017-18

Lessons from the history of the US Public Health Service Research Studies in Tuskegee and Guatemala
Bill Jenkins, PhD, MPH
Professor of Public Health Sciences and Associate Director of the
Research Center on Health Disparities Morehouse College

The roles of monuments and naming in collective memory and identity
Kirk Savage, PhD
William S. Dietrich II Chair and Professor of History of Art and Architecture
University of Pittsburgh

Sponsored by the Graduate School of Public Health.

April 3, 2018 -
6:00pm to 7:00pm
Scaife Hall - 4th Floor

CF Reynolds Medical History Society
Shelley McKellar, PhD
Hannah Chair in the History of Medicine
University of Western Ontario

April 6, 2018 -
9:00am to 7:00pm
University of Pittsburgh - Johnstown Campus

Abstract: This conference will feature interdisciplinary health scholarship in panel presentations, applied workshops, and poster presentations. Among other topics, it will include a panel on genetic enhancement and a keynote lecture by Deepu Gowda, MD, Associate Professor of Medicine at the Columbia University Medical Center (CUMC) and the Director of Clinical Practice in the program in Narrative Medicine at CUMC.  For more information click here.

April 9, 2018 -
5:00pm to 6:30pm
501 Cathedral of Learning

Jesse Soodalter, MD, MA
Clinical Instructor of Medicine
University of Pittsburgh

Abstract: Mr. H, a previously healthy 51-year-old African-American man, presents to a major academic medical center with several days of flu-like symptoms, and is found to be in fulminant heart failure, a rare autoimmune complication of a common virus. Over several days and an escalating series of emergent interventions, his heart dies, and he winds up on a highly advanced complex of life support technologies that replace the function of his heart, lungs, and kidneys. This constellation of care is known as “bridge therapy,” a definitionally temporizing configuration intended to keep a dying patient alive long enough to reach some “destination,” be it recovery, transplant, implantation of more permanent support devices, or decision to withdraw care. In the case of Mr. H, a lengthy, tumultuous, and ultimately tragic series of events follows.  Mr. H’s sojourn on the bridge affords a vantage point from which we can consider problems of race, class, sovereignty, bio- and necropower as they play out in the increasingly technologized setting of critical care in America. The figure of the cyborg as proposed by Donna Haraway will be our guide in considering the possibilities and limitations of radical resistance to this regime of power over life and death.

Medical Humanities Mondays Lecture

April 12, 2018 -
11:00am to 12:00pm
Webinar - Contact Jody Stockdill ( to register
April 13, 2018 - 9:00am to April 15, 2018 - 4:00pm
Union Station Hotel St. Louis, MO

Over the past century, there have been repeated calls for medicine to incorporate religion or “spirituality.”  Some have called for clinicians and clergy to work together in order to care for patients holistically.  Others have looked to religious traditions for content to help clinicians practice ethically.  Still others have looked to religious communities and spiritual practices to help patients cope with and find meaning in their suffering. Each of these highlights a widespread sense that modern medicine alone cannot help people make sense of and respond well to disability, illness, and suffering.

Health care practitioners, scholars, religious community leaders, and students are invited to attend this conference to explore a range of questions: on what basis can medicine and religion engage one another?  Is contemporary medicine beholden to philosophical commitments that are rivals to or in harmony with Judaism, Christianity, Islam, and other world religions?  Do efforts to incorporate religion into contemporary medicine lead to unwanted distortions of one or both?  Can contemporary medicine answer questions about meaning and purpose that arise at the bedside?  Should religious communities develop their own understandings and practices of the healing arts?  Do medicine and religion share foundations on which they can build and work together?

Conference details are available here.

April 13, 2018 -
3:30pm to 4:30pm
817 Cathedral of Learning

Heather Douglas
Department of Philosophy
University of Waterloo

Center for Philosophy of Science 58th Annual Lecture Series