Catholic Ethics and the Challenge of COVID-19

A complimentary webinar series co-sponsored by the Catholic Health Association and Georgetown University in cooperation with the Pellegrino Center for Clinical Bioethics.
Sheehan_Myles_NEN_150Myles Sheehan, SJ, MD, is a Jesuit priest, physician, and lecturer in the Pellegrino Center for Clinical Bioethics. Trained in Internal Medicine and Geriatrics, he practiced in these fields and served until 2009 as the Senior Associate Dean at Loyola University Chicago’s Stritch School of Medicine and the Ralph P. Leischner Professor and Chair of the Leischner Institute for Medical Education. From 2009 to 2014 Fr. Sheehan was the Provincial for the New England Province of the Society of Jesus and from 2015 to currently he serves as the Provincial Delegate for Senior Jesuits for the Maryland and USA Northeast Provinces of the Society of Jesus. His interests include end of life care, care of older persons, spirituality in healthcare, and medical education.


Dr. G. Kevin Donovan is the Director of the Pellegrino Center for Clinical Bioethics at Georgetown University Medical School, and a Professor in the Department of Pediatrics. He is a clinician ethicist with over 30 years experience in the field. He began his training as a Visiting Scholar with Dr. Edmund Pellegrino at the Kennedy Institute of Ethics of Georgetown University, in 1989 – 90. It was during this time that he began his studies that led to his earning a Masters degree in bioethics from University of Oklahoma. At the request of Dr. Pellegrino, he returned to Georgetown in 2012, as Director of the Pellegrino Center.

Prior to his return to Georgetown, Dr. Donovan had served as Section Chief, Vice Chair, Interim Chair and Professor of Pediatrics at the University of Oklahoma College of Medicine – Tulsa, where he was the founding Director of the Oklahoma Bioethics Center.

Dr. Donovan received his undergraduate degree from Notre Dame, his M.D. from the University of Oklahoma, as well as his Masters in Bioethics. He trained in pediatrics at Baylor College of Medicine, completed fellowships in pediatric gastroenterology at the Children's Hospital of Oklahoma and the NIH in Bethesda, Maryland, and is board certified In Pediatric Gastroenterology. His national memberships have included the American Medical Association, the North American Society for Pediatric Gastroenterology, the American Academy of Pediatrics (G.I. and Bioethics Sections) and the Kennedy Institute of Ethics, where he has now been appointed a Clinician Scholar.

Dr. Donovan completed a three-year term as Chair of the Bioethics Section of the American Academy of Pediatrics and was appointed as the first person to serve as liaison from the bioethics section to the Committee on Bioethics of the AAP. He also served on the bioethics committee for the North American Society for Pediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology, and Nutrition, the ethics committee of the Oklahoma State Medical Association, and was Medical Ethics Consultant to the Roman Catholic diocese of Tulsa. He served on the local board of directors for the organ sharing network, the Genetics Advisory Council, and was a founding member and first vice president of the Oklahoma Association for Healthcare Ethics. He alsoserved as chair of the Institutional Review Board at St. Francis Hospital for 17 years.

Dr. Donovan has published articles on both pediatrics and bioethics, and has spoken extensively on both subjects at the local, national and international level on four continents.

He has been interviewed and quoted on NBC, NPR, EWTN, and Al Jazeera, as well as the New York Times and the Washington Post, among others. He was awarded the Humanism in Medicine award from the Gold Foundation, which recognizes physicians to have successfully integrated humanism into the delivery of care to their patients and families. Dr. Donovan also received the Founder's Award for Outstanding Contributions to Research and Medicine from the University of Tulsa, an award sponsored by the Oklahoma chapter of the Crohn's and Colitis Foundation of America. He has been listed in Who's Who in the World, as well as Best Doctors in America, and Top Doctors in America.


Dr. Allen H. Roberts II is originally from Alexandria, Va. He took his B.A. from the University of Virginia in 1977 and his M.D. from George Washington University in 1983. He completed his M.Div. at Reformed Theological Seminary in 2013, and his M.A. in Bioethics at Trinity International University in 2017.

In 2003 he retired from the US Navy Medical Corps after a 20 year career in Internal Medicine, Pulmonary and Critical Care, during which time he served as White House Physician under President George H.W. Bush; he also served as Director of Medical Services aboard USNS Comfort, Chief of Pulmonary and Chief or Critical Care Medicine at the National Naval Medical Center (now Walter Reed) in Bethesda.

For the past 17 years he has practiced Critical Care Medicine at Georgetown University Hospital, where he now serves as the Associate Medical Director for the hospital and Chair of the Clinical Ethics Committee. He holds the academic rank of Professor of Clinical Medicine at the Georgetown University Medical Center.

Dr. Roberts has been extensively involved in postgraduate medical education, specifically resident education in Critical Care. He has a keen interest in end-of-life care and ethics, and transplantation ethics.

Dr. Roberts is married to Dr. Afsoon Roberts, who practices Infectious Disease Medicine at George Washington University Hospital. They have two daughters.


Dr. Daniel Sulmasy is the André Hellegers Professor of Biomedical Ethics in the Departments of Medicine and Philosophy at Georgetown University, where he is acting director of the Kennedy Institute of Ethics and a member of the Pellegrino Center for Clinical Bioethics. He received his AB and MD degrees from Cornell University; completed his residency, chief residency and post-doctoral fellowship in General Internal Medicine at the Johns Hopkins Hospital; and holds a PhD in philosophy from Georgetown.

Dr. Sulmasy previously held faculty positions at New York Medical College and the University of Chicago. He has also served on numerous governmental advisory committees and was a member of the Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues from 2010 to 2017.

His research interests encompass theoretical and empirical investigations of the ethics of end-of-life decision-making, informed consent for research and spirituality in medicine.

Dr. Sulmasy is the author or editor of six books: "The Healer's Calling"; "Methods in Medical Ethics"; "The Rebirth of the Clinic"; "A Balm for Gilead"; "Safe Passage: A Global Spiritual Sourcebook for Care at the End of Life"; and "Francis the Leper: Faith, Medicine, Theology, and Science." He also serves as editor-in-chief of the journal Theoretical Medicine and Bioethics.


Dr. Claudia Sotomayor currently works as Clinical Ethicist at the Pellegrino Center for Clinical Bioethics, and Adjunct Assistant Professor of Internal Medicine of GUMC. She is a Cura Personalis Fellow at Georgetown University. She holds an M.D. from Universidad Autonoma de Chihuahua, in Chihuahua, Mexico. She also graduated with a Master's degree in Bioethics from Anahuac University in Mexico City, and she graduated with a Doctorate in Bioethics from Loyola University in Chicago Il, USA. Claudia also completed a fellowship in Clinical Bioethics at MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston TX. (USA). She has been a Research Scholar for UNESCO Chair in Bioethics and Human Rights since 2012 where she has worked in the area of Multiculturalism, Bioethics and Religion. She has also served as a member of the Ethics committee in different hospitals in the USA. Before coming to the USA, she worked in different hospitals in Mexico as a primary care physician, and was the health committee coordinator for FUNDESPEN, a non-profit that provides medical care to Mayan communities in rural areas of Quintana Roo, Mexico.


David G. Miller is the Associate Director for Academic Programs and Administrator for the Center for Clinical Bioethics at the Georgetown University Medical Center, where he directs the bioethics courses for first- and second-year medical students. He served as a senior research analyst for both President Obama's Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues and President Bush's President's Council on Bioethics. The philosophy courses he taught most recently at Georgetown are Philosophy of Medicine (with Dr. Pellegrino) and Bioethics and Public Policy. Current issues in bioethics that interest him most include conscience/refusal clauses, health care reform, and professionalism and bioethics education in medical schools.


Dr. Sarah Vittone is a Clinical Bioethicist with the Pellegrino Center for Clinical Bioethics and Faculty with Georgetown University. She has over 25 years of experience in clinical bioethics with 10 years in Research Ethics. She also currently serves in clinical nursing administration at Suburban Hospital Johns Hopkins Medicine, Bethesda Maryland. Dr. Vittone received Bachelors and Masters Degrees in Nursing from University of Virginia and a Masters in Religious Studies also from The University of Virginia. She completed her doctoral work in Bioethics at Loyola University Chicago. Dr. Vittone is interested in decision making and the role of surrogates in healthcare.


Dr. Siva Subramanian is Professor of Pediatrics and Ethicist at Medstar Georgetown University Hospital and Chief of the NICU (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit)

He teaches at GUMC about Pediatrics, Neonatology, and Religious traditions in Health Care and Complementary and Alternative Medicine. He currently serves as the First Vice President of IFC. He received the prestigious "Interfaith Bridge Builder Award" given by IFC. He is the founder of and served as the Chairman of the Sri Siva Vishnu Temple in Lanham, MD, which has held several interfaith dialogues and conducted tours for school, college and State department staff every year. He is the Co-founder of the Council on Hindu Temples of USA, the Association of United Hindu Jain Temples of Metropolitan Washington DC and the Hindu American Community Services Inc. (HACSI).

James Giordano 150James Giordano, PhD, MPhil, is Professor in the Departments of Neurology and Biochemistry, Chief of the Neuroethics Studies Program, Co-director of the O’Neill-Pellegrino Program in Science and Global Law and Policy, and Special Projects’ Advisor to the Brain Bank at Georgetown University Medical Center. He is Senior Fellow of the Project on Biosecurity, Technology, and Ethics at the US Naval War College, Newport, RI; and consulting bioethicist to the US Defense Medical Ethics Committee, currently addressing ethical issues in biosecurity and biomedical responses to the COVID-19 crisis. As well, he chairs the Neuroethics Subprogram of the IEEE Brain Initiative; is a Fellow of the Defense Operations Cognitive Science section, SMA Branch, Joint Staff, Pentagon; and is an appointed member of the Neuroethics, Legal and Social Issues Advisory Panel of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). He has previously served as Donovan Senior Fellow for Biosecurity at US Special Operations Command (USSOCOM); as Research Fellow and Task Leader of the EU-Human Brain Project Sub-Program on Dual-Use Brain Science; as an appointed member of the Department of Health and Human Services Secretary’s Advisory Committee on Human Research Protections (SACHRP); and as senior consultant to the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development Working Group on Dual-Use of International Neurotechnology.

 A Fulbright scholar, Dr. Giordano was awarded the JW Fulbright Visiting Professorship of Neuroscience and Neuroethics at the Ludwig-Maximilians University, Munich, GER, and currently is Distinguished Visiting Professor of Brain Science, Health Promotions, and Ethics at the Coburg University of Applied Sciences, Coburg, GER. He was previously an International Fellow of the Centre for Neuroethics at the University of Oxford, UK.

Prof. Giordano is the author of over 300 papers, 7 books, 21 book chapters, and 20 government white papers on brain science, national defense and ethics, his book, Neurotechnology in National Security and Defense: Practical Considerations, Neuroethical Concerns (2015, CRC Press) is widely regarded and used as a definitive work on the topic. In recognition of his achievements he was elected to the European Academy of Science and Arts, and named an Overseas Fellow of the Royal Society of Medicine (UK).

DrRobertVeatchRobert M. Veatch is Professor of Medical Ethics, Emeritus, and the former Director of the Kennedy Institute of Ethics at Georgetown University. He remains at the Institute currently serving as Senior Research Scholar. He was also professor in the Philosophy Department and has held appointment as adjunct professor in the Georgetown Department of Community and Family Medicine. Prior to coming to Georgetown, he was Senior Associate and director of the Research Group on Death and Dying at the Hastings Center in New York. He is the author or editor of 53 books, most recently, the fourth edition of the Basics and Bioethics (2019), which he co-authored with Laura Guidry-Grimes.

He has been a member of the Board of Directors of the Washington Regional Transplant Community since 1988 and has served on the United Network for Organ Sharing committees of ethics, living donation, and vascular composite allografts (face and hand transplants). He has served as the President of the Board, Hospice Care of the District of Columbia, as a member of the editorial board of JAMA, the Journal of the American Medical Association; and as a member of four National Institutes of Health data and safety monitoring boards.

He has taught over 15,000 students at Georgetown, Columbia, Dartmouth, Brown, Union, and St. George's University (Grenada). His current research is on the history of professional medical ethics, transplantation ethics, and death and dying. He has served as Chair of Georgetown's Institutional Review Board for social science research.

He received a BS in Pharmacy from Purdue (1961), a MS in Pharmacology, University of California Medical Center (1962), and a B.D., M.A., and Ph. D. (1971) concentrating in medical ethics from Harvard University. He has received an honorary D.Hum. from Creighton University and an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters from Union University.

He has served as an ethics consultant and expert witness in over 30 legal cases including the case of Karen Quinlan (1975-76), the young woman left in a persistent vegetative state whose parents won a landmark legal victory establishing the right of families to make critical treatment refusal decisions, and the case of Baby K (1992), the child with anencephaly whose mother won the right of access to life-support for her, one of the noted cases on medical futility. He has received the Lifetime Achievement Award of the American Society of Bioethics and the Humanities and the Henry Knowles Beecher Award for Lifetime Achievement of the Hastings Center. In 2008 he served as the Gifford Lecturer at the University of Edinburgh. He has been given the National Book Award of the American Medical Writers’ Association, the Distinguished Achievement Award of the United Methodist Association, the Research Career Recognition Award, Georgetown University, the Pellegrino medal from the Healthcare Ethics and Law Institute, Samford University, and the Distinguished Service Award of St. George’s University School of Medicine. He has been listed in Who’s Who in America since the 1970s. Throughout his career he has been an advocate for the rights and welfare of patients as active decision makers in medicine.

Ds200_sean.aasr. Aas is a Senior Research Scholar at the Kennedy Institute of Ethics and an Assistant Professor in the Philosophy Department at Georgetown.His primary areas of research are bioethics, metaethics, and social and political philosophy, with a significant focus on issues of disability: disability as social construct, disability and political egalitarianism, disability and health. These interests tie to broader projects: on the construction of social facts; the grounds of egalitarian justice; and the import of diverse embodiment for health care ethics and health policy. Dr. Aas earned a PhD in philosophy from Brown University in 2013, and served as a Fellow at the Justitia Amplificata Project at Goethe University in Frankfurt and a Fellow at the Department of Clinical Bioethics in the Clinical Center of the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda prior to joining the Kennedy Institute of Ethics.