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Trust: The Seventh Annual Northwestern Bioethics and Medical Humanities Conference

Friday, May 3, 2024


The Center for Bioethics and Medical Humanities and the Medical Humanities & Bioethics Graduate Program are excited to announce this one-day conference dedicated to engaging the Northwestern and Chicagoland community in the rich, multidisciplinary research and scholarship of our field.




Promoting Respect, Equity and Trustworthiness in Research and Healthcare Engagement: Implications for Bioethicists

Faith Fletcher professional headshot


Faith E. Fletcher, PhD, MA
Associate Professor
Center for Medical Ethics and Health Policy
Baylor College of Medicine

This presentation utilizes personal narratives and justice-oriented scholarship to draw attention to the significance of bioethicists taking the lead in discussing and actively engaging in building a culture of equity and trustworthiness in research and healthcare. These reflections and perspectives are fundamental in developing comprehensive bioethics frameworks that responsibly address ethical and equity issues in the healthcare of minoritized groups. This work has significant implications for equipping future healthcare professionals with the necessary knowledge, skills, and structural competency to challenge long-standing oppressive practices in medicine.



Check-In and Breakfast • 8:45–9am

Opening Remarks • 9am–9:15am

Session 1: Trust in the Clinic • 9:15–10:30am

  • The Lies of Others: On the Epistemic Obligations of Patients toward Physicians
    David Kendall Casey
  • Baby Doe, Ethics Consultations, and Public Trust
    Catherine Groden, MD MA
  • Potentially Inappropriate Treatment in End-of-Life Care: Building Trust by Building Boundaries
    Ryan Jozwiak, MD
  • Rethinking The Apnea Test as a Criterion for Brain Death and Advocating for Informed Consent
    Tarushi Sharma
  • Addressing Misattributed Parentage Discovered through Trio-Based Genetic Testing
    Sara Huston, MS

Session 2: Public Narratives and Public Trust • 10:45am–12pm

  • Eroding Trust in Healthcare and the Challenge to Expertise
    David Ozar, PhD and Anne Ozar, PhD
  • Fostering Trust in a Skeptical Climate: Responding to Medical Conspiracy Theories
    Michael Certo, MD MA MM
  • Trust in Medical AI: Challenging the "Black Box" Problem
    Arturo Balaguer Townsend, MBE
  • Behind the Screens: A Case Study of Misconceptions Reflected in Social Media on the Role of Health-Related Consumer Genomics Services in IGG
    Nathan A. Reed
  • The Proper Measure for the Determining the Success of the System for Harvesting Organs
    Mark Sheldon, PhD

Keynote And Lunch • 12:30–1:30pm

Session 3: Vulnerabilities and Trustworthiness • 1:45–3pm

  • Build Trust in Psychiatric Care to Save More Lives
    Chuanfen Ni
  • Trust vs Mistrust: The Role of Trust in the Care of People Who Use Drugs
    Brent Schnipke, MD
  • In Loose Hands: Entrusting and Prison Healthcare
    Manu Sundaresan
  • Bridging Gaps and Building Trust through Chronic Pelvic Pain Education for Underserved Women
    Sydney Love Cush
  • “I Can’t Take in Every Stray Puppy”: The Intersection of Gatekeeping and Dirty Work in Outpatient Pain Clinics
    Camille Kroll, MA, MPH

Session 4: Trust in Research and Education • 3:15pm–4:30pm

  • Centering Trust in Community Engaged Research with Women Experiencing Homelessness and Women Who Are Incarcerated
    Kirsten A. Dickins, PhD
  • Building Trust through Community Engagement: A Path to Promoting Equity in Obstetric Quality Improvement Initiatives
    Varna Kodoth, MPH
  • Setting prioriTies viA Rapid engagemenT of commUnity Partners for Pediatric Research Ethics Preparedness (STARTUP PREP)
    Ava Jurden, MA
  • More Than a Chart: Enhancing Doctor-Patient Communication through Practices in Narrative Medicine and Performance Training
    Jackson Owen
  • Threats to Medical Education: A Trainee Perspective
    Claudia Roldan

Closing Remarks • 4:30pm

Post-Conference Reception (in Ryan Family Atrium, outside auditorium) • 4:45pm–5:45pm



Baldwin Auditorium in the Lurie Research Building (not to be confused with the nearby Lurie Children’s Hospital). 303 E Superior St, Chicago, IL

Registration is now open and is free to all.


If you are not local or are interested in attending just one session, we invite you to attend via Zoom instead.



Trust is at the core of maintaining the integrity of a society. Trust is particularly essential in healthcare, where a person’s life and well-being are often dependent on the advice and care of others, be they clinicians, healthcare systems, or government entities. For individuals and communities, mistrust can lead to dire health outcomes. Uneven trust in authorities, healthcare systems, and clinicians during the COVID-19 pandemic contributed to devastating rates of infections and deaths. Yet mistrust in healthcare—and untrustworthy healthcare—are not new. Parallels in history include the plague epidemic following the conquest of Andalusia by Spain and the early 20th century influenza pandemic. Other historical atrocities, such as experiments on enslaved women, the syphilis experiments in Guatemala and at Tuskegee, and forced sterilizations in Lynchburg, Virginia, leave many questioning the trustworthiness of both healthcare researchers and clinicians.

Against this checkered backdrop, where can trust be found—and earned—in healthcare? How do power differentials or cultural differences between patients and clinicians impact trust? How does the role of money and for-profit entities in healthcare undermine trust in the system? How do political beliefs impact trust in elected officials and their designees in public health? And can trust be actively pursued without suggesting a lack of trustworthiness?


For More Information

Please contact: Myria Knox,


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