Charlene Galarneau
Charlene Galarneau, PhD
Senior Lecturer, Harvard Medical School, Center for Bioethics

Charlene A. Galarneau, MAR, PhD, is Senior Lecturer in the Master of Bioethics Program at Harvard Medical School and Associate Professor Emerita of Wellesley College’s Women’s and Gender Studies Department. Her research explores the ethics of health care, public health, and health policy that take seriously intersecting social relations including gender, “race,” and class. Her 2016 book, Communities of Health Care Justice, presents a concept of community justice that understands multiple and diverse communities as critical moral participants in determining the nature of justice in U.S. health care. Other areas of research include USPHS STD experiments in Guatemala, ACA exclusions (undocumented immigrants) and exemptions (health care sharing ministries), reproductive justice for migrant farmworker women, and FDA blood donor deferral policy. Her articles appear in The American Journal of Bioethics, The Journal of Bioethical Inquiry, Health and Human Rights, The Hastings Center Report, Public Health Ethics, and The Journal of Health Care for the Poor and Underserved.

In 2018-2019, Charlene co-taught the MBE Foundations course with Dr. Rebecca Brendel. In prior years she has taught Race, Gender, and Sexuality in Bioethics, as well as Feminist Bioethics. She has served as a faculty advisor to the Community Ethics Committee, and as faculty advisor, capstone mentor, and consortia commentator.

Charlene was an HMS Fellow in Medical Ethics (1999-2000); a member of the Ethics Committee of the Tufts-New England Medical Center (1999-2005); and a consultant to the development of a municipal ethics committee in Portland, Maine. Prior to Wellesley College she was faculty at Tufts University, Community Health Program (1996-2005) and held a secondary appointment at Tufts Medical School where she lectured in medical ethics, co-directed an ethics course for second year students, co-led curricular redesign in ethics and professionalism, and co-coordinated a monthly bioethics series with faculty university-wide.

The Harvard Medical School Master of Bioethics Class of 2018 selected Charlene to give its faculty commencement address. She was honored with Wellesley College’s Anna and Samuel Pinanski Prize for Excellence in Teaching (2009) and received the Outstanding Contribution to the Academy Alumni/ae Award from the Iliff School of Theology (2007).

She holds a doctorate from Harvard University with a focus in religious social ethics and health policy and a master’s degree from the Iliff School of Theology. Her academic interests are inspired by her early health care work with rural community/migrant health centers and the communities they serve.


  • 2016     Communities of Health Care Justice (New Brunswick, NJ and London: Rutgers University Press).

Peer Reviewed Journal Articles

  • (2021)      Galarneau, C. and R. Yearby, “COVID’s Communities: Health Inequities and Moral Concerns in Crisis Standards of Care,” St. Louis University Journal of Health Law and Policy, Special Issue: Health Equity and Justice Challenges in the COVID-19 Pandemic, (in progress, spring publication). 
  • (2021)     “Anti-Black Racism, White Supremacy, and Bioethics,” (in progress).
  • (2020)     “Discharge Dissonance,” Narrative Inquiry in Bioethics: A Journal of Qualitative Research, Symposium: Ethical Challenges in Discharge Planning: Stories from Patients, 10(3): (winter issue). 
  • 2020      “Communities Matter,” Hastings Center Report 50(3): 63-64.
  • 2019     “Many Ways of Looking’: Physician Refusal of Embryo Transfer.” Harvard Medical School Bioethics Journal (Summer). 
  • 2018     “Getting King’s Words Right,” Journal of Health Care for the Poor and Underserved
    29(1): 5-8. ,
  • 2015    “Health Care Sharing Ministries and Their Exemption from the Individual Mandate of the Affordable Care Act,” Journal of Bioethical Inquiry, 12(2): 269-282.
  • 2013     “Farm Labor, Reproductive Justice: Migrant Women Farmworkers in the U.S., Health and Human Rights: An International Journal (15)1: 144–60.
  • 2013     “‘Ever Vigilant’ in ‘Ethically Impossible’: Structural Injustice and Responsibility in PHS Research in Guatemala,” Hastings Center Report 43(3): 36–45. 
  • 2011     “Still Missing in 2011: Undocumented Immigrants in Health Care Reform,” Journal of Health Care for the Poor and Underserved, 22(2): 422–28.
  • 2010      “Blood Donation, Deferral, and Discrimination: FDA Donor Deferral Policy for Men Who Have Sex with Men,“ American Journal of Bioethics, 10(2): 29-39.2010–19.
  • 2010     “‘The H in HIV Stands for Human, Not Haitian’: Cultural Imperialism in US Blood Donor Policy,“ Public Health Ethics, 3(3):210

Book Chapter

  • 2007     “Consumer-Sponsored Health Care Plans: Early 20th C. Public Participation in U.S. Health Care,” in Acting Civically: From Urban Neighborhoods to Higher Education, ed. Susan A. Ostrander and Kent E. Portney (Lebanon, NH: University of New England Press), 113–29.

Encyclopedia Entry

  • 2006     “Health and Medicine,” in Encyclopedia of Religious and Spiritual Development, ed. Elizabeth M. Dowling and W. George Scarlett (Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage), 191–195.

Book Reviews

  • 2013     “Review of Anne-Maree Farrell, The Politics of Blood: Ethics, Innovation and the Regulation of Risk” (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2012), in American Journal of Bioethics 13(4): 54–56.
  • 2012    “The Ethics of Bioethics,” review of Karla F. C. Holloway, Private Bodies, Public Texts: Race, Gender, and Cultural Bioethics (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2011), in Women’s Review of Books, 29(2): 24-26.
  • 2009     “Review of Keith Wailoo, Julie Livingston, and Peter Guarnaccia, eds., A Death Retold: Jesica Santillan, the Bungled Transplant, and Paradoxes of Medical Citizenship,” (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2006), in American Journal of Bioethics, 9(11): 69–70.

Web-Based Publications

  • 2018     Blog, “Shared Benefits for Shared Communities?” The Spoke, Madeleine Korbel Albright Institute for Global Affairs, Wellesley College, May 4.
  • 2018     Blog, “King’s Words on Health Injustice: what did he actually say?” International Journal of Feminist Approaches to Bioethics, April 19.
  • 2017     Blog, “On Sims’s Legacy: Work for Bioethics,” The Hastings Center, Bioethics Forum: Diverse Commentary on Issues in Bioethics, Aug. 17.
  • 2016      Letter to Editor, “Christian Health Care,” The New York Times, March 21.
  • 2015     Blog, “Ending Stigma – And Better Assessing Risk Among Blood Donors,” Cognescenti, WBUR, Jan. 13.
  • 2012     Blog, “Time to Change FDA’s Discriminatory Blood Donation Policy,” The Hastings Center, Bioethics Forum: Diverse Commentary on Issues in Bioethics, Oct. 17.

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