Robert M. Veatch, Ph.D.
Professor of Medical Ethics at the Kennedy Institute of Ethics; Professor in the Philosophy Department at Georgetown University
Robert M. Veatch, Ph.D., is Professor of Medical Ethics at the Kennedy Institute of Ethics and a Professor in the Philosophy Department at Georgetown. He also serves as an Adjunct Professor in the Departments of Community and Family Medicine and Obstetrics and Gynecology at the Georgetown University School of Medicine. In addition to receiving his M.A. and Ph.D. in Religion and Society (medical ethics) from Harvard University, Dr. Veatch holds a master's degree in Pharmacology from the University of California Medical Center, San Francisco. His primary research interests include transplantation ethics, ethical issues in death and dying, and issues of consent in therapy and human subjects research.
A long-time Fellow of the Hastings Center, Dr. Veatch also has served, since 1988, as a Member of the Governing Board and the Medical Advisory Committee of the Washington Regional Transplant Community, the organ procurement organization responsible for organ and tissue procurement in the Washington metropolitan area. He is a member of numerous Data Safety and Monitoring Boards and Institutional Ethics Committees.
One of the pioneers of contemporary medical ethics, Dr. Veatch served as an ethics consultant in the early legal case of Karen Ann Quinlan, the woman whose parents won the right to forgo life-support (1975-76), and testified in the case of Baby K, an anencephalic infant whose mother argued for a right of access to continued ventilatory support (1994). From 1981 to 1982, he served as a consultant to the President's Commission for the Study of Ethical Problems in Medicine and Biomedical Research.
Dr. Veatch is the author or editor of numerous books and articles, including Death, Dying, and the Biological Revolution; A Theory of Medical Ethics; The Foundations of Justice; The Patient as Partner: A Theory of Human Experimentation Ethics; Cross Cultural Perspectives in Medical Ethics; Transplantation Ethics; Disrupted Dialogue: Medical Ethics and the Collapse of Physician/Humanist Connection; a number of collections of Case Studies in various areas of health care and biomedical ethics; and, recently, Patient, Heal Thyself: How the "New" Medicine Puts the Patient in Charge.
He was awarded an honorary Doctor of Humanities degree from Creighton University (1999) and an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree from Union University (2004). He received the National Book Award from the National Medical Writers Association for Case Studies in Medical Ethics, the Distinguished Achievement Award of the United Methodist Association (2002), the Research Career Achievement Award from Georgetown University (2005), and the Lifetime Achievement Award, American Society of Bioethics and Humanities (2008). In 2008, he delivered the prestigious Gifford Lecturer at the University of Edinburgh, speaking on "Hippocratic, Religious and Secular Medical Ethics: The Points of Conflict."
Highlighted Publication: Patient, Heal Thyself: How the "New" Medicine Puts the Patient in Charge
Patient, Heal Thyself explores a "new medicine," which recognizes that every medical decision involves nonscientific value judgments and that generally patients, and not their physicians, are in the best position to make those decisions for themselves. Through a discussion of numerous cases, Dr. Veatch shows how this is true not only for obviously value-laden decisions involving abortion or end-of-life care, but also for routine cases involving broken arms or the selection of drugs to lower cholesterol.
"A new medicine is on the horizon ... as radically different from modern medicine as modern medicine is from medicine men and faith healers."