Mini Bioethics Academy

 Center for Bioethics Mini Bioethics Academy: Engage with faculty to learn about and foster discussion on complex, thought-provoking bioethical issues facing society. Click on image to register. Twice a year, the Center for Bioethics hosts Mini Bioethics Academy (MBA), a three-evening education series held on the University of Minnesota campus which helps the public understand bioethical challenges in today’s society. The Center’s faculty members engage the public in discussions about complex, thought-provoking bioethical issues making headlines today. Past topics have included genetic testing and counseling, reproductive technologies, gun policies, organ transplantation, end-of-life care, managed care, long term care, research ethics, and professional ethics. Mini Bioethics Academy is open to anyone interested in learning more about bioethics. 


MBA Past events

Headshot of Deb DeBruin, PhD
Wednesday, September 25, 2019 - 6:30pm to 8:00pm

Infectious disease epidemics, natural disasters and terrorist attacks can overwhelm existing public health and healthcare systems. These crises raise a complicated array of ethical issues, from rationing scarce resources to protecting vulnerable community members to providing appropriate supports to health professionals. As part of a national effort, health departments and health care organizations are tasked with developing plans to enable them to respond appropriately to these types of crises. A critical part of that planning effort is the development of guidance for managing the ethical challenges that arise in these emergencies. This presentation provides background on public health crisis planning, describes the need for ethics guidance, discusses the fundamental ethical values that should guide crisis planning and response; and identifies some ways to implement ethical guidance in the challenging context of mass casualty incidents.

Speaker: Debra DeBruin, PhD

Headshot of Ed Ratner, MD
Wednesday, September 18, 2019 - 6:30pm to 8:00pm


Discussions of bioethics typically focus on care in the hospital, while ethical conflicts occur in all settings.  For families and community-based organizations, there are frequent ethical conflicts in home-based health care.  These include: whether a frail or disabled person can return or remain at home, whether driving or other activities should be permitted and who is responsible for providing needed care.  This presentation offers some basic principles and approaches to ethical issues in home care.  Those attending will be asked to discuss a number of actual cases. This seminar is useful to families providing elder care and health care professionals in all settings.

Speaker: Edward Ratner, MD

Photo of Bonnie LeRoy, MS, CGC holding a tablet and smiling
Wednesday, September 11, 2019 - 6:30pm to 8:00pm

What can genetic testing tell us? Do we learn different information from clinical testing vs. direct to consumer testing? Do we know what happens to our information? What are the risks and benefits? Not all genetic testing is the same and not everyone can benefit. There are risks associated with genetic testing and there are benefits but informed consent remains a challenge. Moreover, our underlying beliefs about what our genes are and what genetic information can tell us, further complicates testing.  In this presentation, the speaker discusses different types of testing, the challenges with consent for testing, and who benefits from testing.

Speaker: Bonnie LeRoy, MS, CGC

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Wednesday, May 1, 2019 - 6:30pm to 8:00pm

Health researchers have studied “stem cell tourism” to clinics in countries such as China, India, Mexico, Thailand, and the Ukraine but more recently, studies have found hundreds of clinics here in the U.S. selling unapproved and unproven stem cell interventions. Many of these clinics do not sell FDA-approved stem cell products or have credible  evidence supporting their marketing claims.  This direct-to-consumer approach to selling unproven and unlicensed cell-based products prompts troubling concerns about patient safety, the manipulation of hope in advertising, and the gap between the current state of stem cell research and the purported therapies these clinics market. In this talk, the speaker describes the U.S. direct-to-consumer marketplace for stem cell interventions and explore ethical issues related to the increase in U.S. clinics selling stem cell treatments. The presentation also covers regulation of stem cell-based products, FDA enforcement activity, and lawsuits filed by former patients of U.S. stem cell clinics. 

Speaker:  Leigh Turner, PhD, Associate Professor, Center for Bioethics, Associate Professor, Dept of Pharmaceutical Care & Health Systems, Associate Professor, School of Public Health

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Wednesday, April 24, 2019 - 6:30pm to 8:00pm

We know that what impacts health lies largely outside of normal healthcare delivery. We call these the negative social determinants of health. One in six people with low incomes need legal help to overcome these determinants and improve their health. Restoring food stamps when wrongfully denied to a diabetic can eliminate the need for a kidney transplant. Demanding that a landlord remove mold from substandard housing can reduce the need for emergency asthma care. Such interventions can also reduce overall healthcare costs. Healthcare Legal Partnerships exist to meet needs like these by adding lawyers to the healthcare team in various settings. The University of Minnesota helped pioneer this model of care in the 1990s. The HLP Collaborative in Minnesota was founded by nursing educator Dr. Eileen Weber, who is also an attorney, so HLPs in our region can share best practices and increase awareness, education and outreach of this effective interprofessional care model. Her presentation offers HLP strategies and resources to help those who work to advance health equity.

Upper Midwest Healthcare Legal Partnership Learning Collaborative Report

Speaker: Eileen Weber, DNP, JD, BSN, PHN, RN, Clinical Associate Professor, Population Health and Systems Cooperative