Robert D. Truog
Robert D. Truog, MD, MA
Director, Harvard Center for Bioethics, Frances Glessner Lee Professor of Legal Medicine, Professor of Anaesthesia (Pediatrics)

Dr. Robert Truog is the Frances Glessner Lee Professor of Medical Ethics, Anaesthesiology & Pediatrics and Director of the Center for Bioethics at Harvard Medical School. Dr. Truog received his medical degree from the University of California, Los Angeles and is board certified in the practices of pediatrics, anesthesiology, and pediatric critical care medicine. He also holds a master’s degree in philosophy from Brown University and an honorary master of arts from Harvard University.

As director of the Center for Bioethics, he has overall responsibility for the Center’s many activities, including the master of bioethics graduate program, the bioethics fellowship program, required courses in medical ethics and professionalism for Harvard medical students, and the Center’s many workshops, seminars, and public forums. As chair of Harvard University’s Embryonic Stem Cell Research Oversight Committee (ESCRO), he is engaged in the interesting and difficult challenges of defining the ethical parameters of stem cell research and regenerative biology.

Bob TruogDr. Truog practices pediatric intensive care medicine at Boston Children’s Hospital, where he has served for more than 30 years. He has published more than 300 articles in bioethics and related disciplines, and his writings on the subject of brain death have been translated into several languages. He authored current national guidelines for providing end-of-life care in the intensive care unit. He was principal investigator on the recently completed NIH study Toward Optimal Palliative Care in the PICU Setting. His books include “Talking with Patients and Families about Medical Error: A Guide for Education and Practice" (2010, JHUP, translated into Italian and Japanese), and "Death, Dying, and Organ Transplantation" (2012, Oxford).

He lectures widely nationally and internationally, and is an active member of numerous committees and advisory boards. He has received several awards over the years, including the the William G. Bartholome Award from the American Academy of Pediatrics, the Christopher Grenvik Memorial Award, and the Shubin-Weil Master Clinician-Teacher Award, both from the Society of Critical Care Medicine. In 2013 he was honored with the Spinoza Chair at the University of Amsterdam.

Publications View
Crisis Level ICU Triage Is About Saving Lives.
Authors: Authors: Sprung CL, Joynt GM, Christian MD, Truog RD, Rello J, Nates JL.
Crit Care Med
View full abstract on Pubmed
Categorized Priority Systems: A New Tool for Fairly Allocating Scarce Medical Resources in the Face of Profound Social Inequities.
Authors: Authors: Sönmez T, Pathak PA, Ünver MU, Persad G, Truog RD, White DB.
View full abstract on Pubmed
Allocating Resources Across the Life Span During COVID-19-Integrating Neonates and Children Into Crisis Standards of Care Protocols.
Authors: Authors: Lemmon ME, Truog RD, Ubel PA.
JAMA Pediatr
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What Should We Do When Families Refuse Testing for Brain Death?
Authors: Authors: Truog RD, Morrison W, Kirschen M.
AMA J Ethics
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Trustworthiness before Trust - Covid-19 Vaccine Trials and the Black Community.
Authors: Authors: Warren RC, Forrow L, Hodge DA, Truog RD.
N Engl J Med
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Brain Death-Moving Beyond Consistency in the Diagnostic Criteria.
Authors: Authors: Truog RD, Krishnamurthy K, Tasker RC.
View full abstract on Pubmed
Adult ICU Triage During the Coronavirus Disease 2019 Pandemic: Who Will Live and Who Will Die? Recommendations to Improve Survival.
Authors: Authors: Sprung CL, Joynt GM, Christian MD, Truog RD, Rello J, Nates JL.
Crit Care Med
View full abstract on Pubmed
Defining Death: Lessons From the Case of Jahi McMath.
Authors: Authors: Truog RD.
View full abstract on Pubmed
Location of Clinician-Family Communication at the End of Life in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit and Clinician Perception of Communication Quality.
Authors: Authors: Lewis-Newby M, Sellers DE, Meyer EC, Solomon MZ, Zurakowski D, Truog RD.
J Palliat Med
View full abstract on Pubmed
Cognitive Bias and Public Health Policy During the COVID-19 Pandemic.
Authors: Authors: Halpern SD, Truog RD, Miller FG.
View full abstract on Pubmed

Q&A with Dr. Robert D. Truog (video)
November 23, 2015
Dr. Truog on the HMS Master of Bioethics, what drew him to a career in bioethics, key challenges in the field today and more.

Medicine and Morality: How do doctors resolve ethical dilemmas hidden in everyday patient care?
June 10, 2015
Harvard Medical School Podcast Library
Robert Truog, a Harvard Medical School professor at Boston Children’s Hospital and director of the HMS Center for Bioethics, teaches doctors and nurses to become more aware of the ethical decisions they make every day—including the conscious and unconscious biases that shape the words they use and the way they frame conversations with patients and families. This kind of “microethics” education aims to help doctors and patients alike achieve more compassionate care.

Surgery’s far frontier: Head transplants 
June 5, 2015
The Wall Street Journal 

Head transplants, at the extreme frontier of medicine, are inching toward reality. Robert Truog, director of the HMS Center for Bioethics and Frances Glessner Lee Professor of Legal Medicine and professor of anaesthesia at Boston Children's Hospital, is quoted.

The Burden of Proof 
June 2, 2015
Harvard Medicine

Dr. Robert Truog comments on the regulations and ethics of involving kids in pediatric clinical trials.

Service Members Are Left in Dark on Health Errors 
April 18, 2015
The New York Times 

Tens of thousands of serious medical mistakes happen every year at American hospitals and clinics. While a handful of health care organizations have opted for broad disclosure amid calls for greater openness, most patients and their families still face significant obstacles if they try to find out what went wrong. Center Director Dr. Robert Truog is quoted.

Bioethics for Transformative Times 
April 30, 2014 
Dean's Corner Blog
Helping researchers and caregivers find their way in the changing terrain of biomedicine. Robert Truog, the HMS Frances Glessner Lee Professor of Medical Ethics, Anaesthesia and Pediatrics at Boston Children’s Hospital, has been named director of the Center for Bioethics.