Center for Bioethics
Center for Bioethics

Our program hosts webinars on a wide range of ethics topics, which feature presentations from nationally renowned speakers. We offer a brief introduction to the ethical issues, power point presentations, interviews with leading figures, and annotated list of references. We also provide links to reference materials and abstracts. All of the original materials can be used without permission. Please give us credit, though, and send colleagues our way. 

Save the Date: 5th Anniversary Symposium

To celebrate five years of our Certificate Program in Pediatric Bioethics, we will be hosting a symposium on Friday, May 13, 2016 from 8 - 11:30 a.m.
Register and learn more


Pediatric Bioethics Certificate Program

We offer a nine-month pediatric bioethics certificate program. The program begins in September each year with an intensive three-day weekend on-site in Kansas City. For the rest of the program, students and faculty discuss assigned readings online and through periodic conference calls and webinars.

Ethics in Genomics

Children’s Mercy Hospital received a $5 million NIH grant for 50-hour genomic diagnosis in critically ill newborns. Genetic testing in children is ethically controversial. The NIH required that each grantee address the ethical, legal and social issues associated with such testing. The Bioethics Center will be working closely with our geneticists and neonatologists to study doctors’ and parents’ perceptions of the usefulness of such testing. We will also try to determine whether there are unrecognized risks or harms associated with genetic testing.

Fellowship Program

Through the generous support of the Claire Giannini Fund, we offer an annual, one-year fellowship in Pediatric Bioethics. Fellows will participate in all clinical, educational, and research activities of the Center. They will also complete a mentored research project on a topic of their choice in pediatric bioethics. They may participate in meetings in our Center for Genomic Medicine, Fetal Health Center, Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, Ethics Committee, Palliative Care Service, or other areas of interest. The fellows will be expected to develop their own research projects and complete at least one paper suitable for publication during the fellowship year.

Applicants should have a terminal degree in medicine, philosophy, nursing, social work, religious studies, law, economics, or other field related to pediatrics and pediatric bioethics. Preference will be given to applicants with:

  • Demonstrated interest in ethics
  • Prior scholarly publications
  • Excellent writing skills
  • Evidence of leadership potential

The 2016-2017 Fellowship will begin on July 1, 2016.  Applications must be received by December 15, 2015.

For more information, please contact Susan Hathaway, PhD, Vice Chair, GME Children's Mercy Hospital, at


About our Fellows

BRAD THORNOCK, PhD - Our first Fellow, Brad Thornock, PhD, completed his fellowship in 2014-2015. Prior to beginning the fellowship, Dr. Thornock completed his PhD at St. Louis University where he was a doctoral candidate in the Center for Health Care Ethics at Saint Louis University. He completed a Master's of Public Health in public health genetics from the University of Michigan. Dr. Thornock is currently Assistant Professor at Saginaw Valley State University teaching medical ethics to nursing, pre-med, and allied health undergraduate students.

Dr. Thornock had this to say regarding the one-year fellowship experience: "This fellowship afforded me the opportunity to not only contemplate the ethics of cutting edge genomic research, but to also peek into some of the scientific and technological processes that underlie ethical quandaries regarding Whole Genome Sequencing (WGS). Colleagues at Children's Mercy were helpful and genuine, and committed to ethics research. While a fellow, I had the chance to assist with ongoing research on physician and patient education and developed my own portfolio of work looking into more theoretical issues. These efforts have lead to several upcoming journal articles as well as presentations at major conferences including the American Society of Bioethics and Humanities (ASBH) annual meeting 2015. This fellowship was a time of great professional growth and it was truly a privilege to be a part of such an innovative and dedicated team."

MICHAEL J. DEEM, PhD - Michael J. Deem, PhD, is the 2015-2016 Pediatric Ethics and Genomics Fellow at Children's Mercy Hospital. Before arriving at Children's Mercy, Michael earned a MA in Philosophy from Texas A&M University and a PhD in Philosophy and Graduate Minor in the History and Philosophy of Science at the University of Notre Dame. His main research interests lie in bioethics, ethical theory, and philosophy of biology. He has published papers on the ethics of genetic counseling, the history of ethics, and the philosophy and psychology of moral emotions.

At Children's Mercy, Michael's research will focus on the ethical and social issues involved with rapid whole genome sequencing in the NICU, and with the clinical application of genomic sequencing to the etiological evaluation of severe neurodevelopmental disorders in young children. He also will accompany visiting genetic counseling students on clinical rotations through Children's Mercy Division of Clinical Genetics. At the conclusion of his Pediatric Ethics and Genomics Fellowship, Michael will be an Assistant Professor of Philosophy and a Faculty Member of The Center for Genomic Advocacy at Indiana State University.


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