Defining Death

April 11-13, 2018

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Defining Death: Organ transplantation and the 50-year legacy of the Harvard report on brain death. The 2018 Annual Bioethics Conference considered 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, assess current practices, and examine persistent controversies and challenges to the scientific and philosophical foundations of this concept. Topics included 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.

ABC 2017

Download the conference program.

2018 Conference Planning Committee:

Robert D. Truog, MD, Committee Chair
James L. Bernat, MD
Thomas I. Cochrane, MD
Christine Mitchell, RN, MS, MTS, FAAN
Lainie Ross, MD, PhD
Nicholas Sadovnikoff, MD
Robert Veatch, PhD

Access the Hastings Center Report related to this conference here.

2018 Conference Speakers
2018 Conference Schedule
2018 Poster Abstracts

2017: The Ethics of "Making Babies"
2016: Social Justice and Ethics Committees in Health Care

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