Cleveland Clinic's Board of Governors created the Department of Bioethics in 1983. The impetus for the formation of the department was the realization that ethical issues in medical practice and research had immediate clinical and practical importance and that an institution dedicated to excellence in health care must have the benefit of bioethics services.
Initially, the department mission focused on developing and supporting the Ethics Committee and developing an ethics consultation service to address ethical issues arising in the course of patient care. Educational activities were correlated with the Ethics Committee during the early years of the department. Primarily, these were focused on clinical ethics topics such as end-of-life decision-making, advance directives, and withdrawal of life support. The department established and staffed an Ethics Consultation Service in conjunction with the Ethics Committee, provided support to a number of clinical programs such as organ transplantation program, and commenced ethics liaison services in a number of critical care units.
The Department's founding chairman, the late George Kanoti, STD, retired in 1997. A review committee recommended that Bioethics should increase its academic focus to augment the department's traditional commitment to clinical ethics services. George J. Agich, PhD was recruited as Chairman in 1997 and served until 2004.
In November 2004, after a nationwide search, Eric Kodish, MD was named the F. J. O'Neill professor and chairman of the Department of Bioethics. He is the first medical doctor appointed to this position, and had previously been the founding director of the Rainbow Center for Pediatric Ethics. His professional focus has been on research ethics and childhood cancer.
The Department of Bioethics is currently engaged in clinical, research and educational activities. The size and scope of the faculty has recently expanded, and the research and educational functions of the Department have been enhanced. In 2007, the Department welcomed the inaugural class of the Cleveland Fellowship of Advanced Bioethics (CFAB), marking the beginning of a new era.
In August of 2010, the Board of Governors established the Center for Ethics, Humanities and Spiritual Care. The Department of Bioethics now lives within the larger structure, joining in a collaborative synergy with the Department of Spiritual Care and the Programs in NeuroEthics and Medical Humanities. This innovative approach follows on the success of the Cleveland Clinic Institute model which was adopted in 2007.
Many of our services are supported by the generous donations of individuals, groups and institutions. Those who recognize the importance of Bioethics at Cleveland Clinic may want to offer financial support of our programs.
If you would like to help, or for more information, contact Barbara Goulden at 216.444.8720 or Amy Kubacki at 216.636.5024.