About The Center For Practical Bioethics



Real Life. Real Issues. Real Time.

The Center for Practical Bioethics is a nonprofit, free-standing and independent organization nationally recognized for its work in practical bioethics. For more than 30 years, the Center has helped patients and their families, healthcare professionals, policymakers and corporate leaders grapple with difficult issues in healthcare and research involving patients. The Center does not wait to be called upon. Our vision and mission require us to be proactive — to call attention to ethical issues and to develop programs, policies and publications that address them. Through this unique approach, the Center puts “practical bioethics” into action. That’s why our motto is “Real Life. Real Issues. Real Time.”

The results? Reasoned, real-world responses to ethically complex situations and, ultimately, the greatest peace of mind possible for those who must decide. A dedicated Board of Directors and staff representing multiple disciplines and fields of expertise, as well as individuals and organizations throughout the nation committed to advancing ethical practices and policies in health and healthcare, support the Center.


Ethical discourse and action advance the health and dignity of all persons.


To raise and respond to ethical issues in health and healthcare

Core Value

Respect for human dignity
      We believe that all persons have intrinsic worth.
      We promote and protect the interests of those who can and cannot speak for themselves.
      We commit to the just delivery of healthcare.

Our Guiding Principles

                To be unfettered by special interests
                To listen actively, think critically, and act wisely
                To lead and promote the leadership of others
                To collaborate with those who commit to civil discourse
                To work diligently toward our mission

The Center concentrates its work in five areas:

• Improving Advance Care Planning & Shared Decision Making
• Changing Chronic Pain Treatment
• Achieving Patient-Centered Outcomes
• Expanding Bioethics Education and Consultation
• Advancing Diversity, Fairness and Justice in Healthcare

The Center’s unique practical approach makes a difference by:

• Using the tools of ethics, based on the principles of philosophy and ethics developed over centuries
• Seizing opportunities to advance awareness of issues and causes
• Bringing diverse, multi-disciplinary groups together to work collaboratively
• Finding common ground through public and professional education, consumer and clinical consultation, research, publications, public engagement and advocacy


Frequently Asked Questions

What does the Center do?

Every day is different at the Center, with activities in multiple program and issue areas.

On a typical day perhaps…
Terry Rosell, Rosemary Flanigan Chair, is participating in a family consultation at a local hospital to discuss critical treatment decisions.
Myra Christopher, Kathleen Foley Chair in Pain and Palliative Care, is editing a work plan for implementing strategies for a regional health system and its clinics to improve outcomes for persons living with chronic pain.
Richard Payne, MD, John B. Francis Chair, is presenting a lecture on neuro-ethics to clinicians at a nearby hospital.
Linda Ward, Executive Vice President and COO, is presenting a Caring Conversations® workshop at an employer-sponsored worksite.  
John Carney, President and CEO, is meeting with a special board committee to discuss a new collaboration with an area medical school.  

The Center’s small staff is also hard at work meeting with ethics committee members at area hospitals, communicating with stakeholders and responding to press calls on timely issues, sharing insights on social networks, and presenting to community groups on the importance of family involvement in shared decision-making. 

Who does the Center engage in its mission?

We engage individuals, families, health professionals and policymakers locally and across the country to gain understanding and find common ground on complex healthcare issues.

What difference does the Center make?

• More advance care planning with emphasis on shared decision-making among patients, families, clinicians and health systems.
• Better understanding of pain, its causes, treatments, costs and benefits leading to better pain management.
• Improved quality and better health outcomes resulting from more patient protections and participation in research based on big data from every patient encounter.
• Expanded community and professional bioethics education, leading to improved awareness and more satisfactory resolution of ethical issues in healthcare.
• Development and growth of ethics consultation and ethics committees to better discern what ought to be done given all that can be done.

What is the Center best known for?

The Center is known for its legacy and ongoing work on end-of-life issues, aging, patients’ rights, pain and its treatment, stem cell research, and disparities in access to and quality of care, as well as more recent efforts to improve ethics oversight in Learning Healthcare Systems. The Center is also known for providing practical resources to help patients, families and clinicians in these and other areas.

How is the Center funded?

Our mission is supported by individual and organizational members, income from consultation work and contracts in communities across the country, and by grants from a number of local and national foundations.

How does the Center accomplish its work?

We bring groups of professionals and volunteers together to explore common values and develop practical policies and solutions for complex issues in healthcare.

We consult with healthcare providers, conduct research, develop and support programs for communities across the country, and engage national policymakers on ethical issues in healthcare.

What can I do to help the Center?

The most important act for all of us is to become better informed on the ethical issues in healthcare. We also urge you to become a member of the Center and consider contributing your time and expertise toward achieving our mission.