Harvard Medical School Annual Bioethics Conference 2018 image

April 11 - 13, 2018
Various Rooms
Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA

The 2018 Annual Bioethics Conference explored the legacy of the 1968 report from the Harvard Medical School committee that proposed the concept of “brain death” as a new criterion for determining human death, making possible the procurement of “living” organs from bodies deemed to be “dead.”

The conference explored how this report facilitated the development of organ transplantation, assessed current practices, and examined persistent controversies and challenges to the scientific and philosophical foundations of this concept. Participants considered future strategies for facilitating the ethical procurement of organs for transplantation, and the impact of new technologies—such as gene editing and 3-D printing—that could radically alter the relevance of brain death as a concept necessary for organ procurement.

About the Conference

The Harvard Medical School Annual Bioethics Conference convenes leaders in the field to explore ethical questions and concerns in healthcare. Held each April, this conference facilitates conversations among experts, and supports members of ethics committees, health care professionals, bioethicists, administrators, attorneys, and others who are interested in addressing ethical issues.

The Harvard Annual Bioethics Conference was hosted and organized by the Center for Bioethics at Harvard Medical School and co-sponsored by the Hastings Center and the Petrie-Flom Center for Health Law Policy, Biotechnology, and Bioethics at Harvard Law School with support from the Oswald DeN. Cammann Fund at Harvard University.


Wednesday, April 11, 2018 

Evening Public Forum: Brain Death and the Controversial Case of Jahi McMath

Thursday, April 12, 2018

7:45 - 8:30am, Registration and Breakfast

8:30 - 10:15am, The Harvard Report: 1968

10:15 - 10:30am, Break

10:30 - 12:00pm, Brain Death: 1968-2018

12:00 - 1:00pm, Lunch

1:00 - 2:30pm, Is brain death a coherent and justified concept for determining death?

2:30 - 2:45pm, Break

2:45 - 5:00pm, Brain Death and the Law

Friday, April 13, 2018

8:30 - 10:30am, Using the other half of the UDDA: Determining death by circulatory criteria

10:30 - 10:45am, Break

10:45am - 12:15pm, Defining death and public policy

12:15 - 1:15pm, Lunch

1:15 - 2:45pm, The dead donor rule

2:45 - 3:00pm, Break

2:45 - 3:00pm, The Future of Transplantation: Organs without human donors


bioethics   biotechnology   end-of-life   genetics   health law policy   human rights   human tissue   innovation   neuroscience   public health   regulation