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Section of Bioethics in Cardiothoracic Surgery


The Section of Bioethics in Cardiothoracic Surgery is an educational branch of the Division, responsible for providing commentary on ethical issues as they arise in divisional conferences, such as the weekly mortality and morbidity conference, the weekly didactic TSDA Curricula session, and the monthly Journal Club.

The Bioethics Section also arranges and manages 2-3 General Surgery Grand Rounds a year for the MUSC Department of Surgery, which are built around presentations of recent cases from the surgical wards of MUSC.

The Section plays an important role in providing a major bioethics conference for MUSC each year, the Thomas A Pitts Memorial Lectureship in Medical Ethics.  Each conference has 8-10 invited faculty from around the U.S. and the world, all of whom are well-known experts in the topics on which they lecture. The proceedings of each conference are published each year as symposium issues of peer-review journals. Lectureships cover a broad spectrum of topics in bioethics.

The Section has been active nationally as well, arranging and managing conferences and special sessions on ethics and health policy at national meetings of cardiothoracic societies. Most of these sessions are subsequently published in the Annals of Thoracic Surgery and other journals. The Section has been responsible for editing several special editions of various journals, devoted to bioethics and health policy.

Over the past five years, members of the Section have published 44 papers on topics in bioethics and health policy, has given 63 lectures and seminars nationally and regionally, and have given 70 lectures and seminars for various departments and programs within MUSC.

The Section of Bioethics is headed by Robert M. Sade, M.D.  Dr. Sade finished his surgical training as Chief Resident in Cardiac Surgery at Boston Children’s Hospital, where he remained on the faculty until moving to MUSC in 1975 to create and head the Section of Pediatric Cardiac Surgery, a role in which he served for nearly 20 years. In 1994, he left that position to create MUSC’s Institute of Human Values in Health Care, which does scholarly work focusing on ethical, legal, and social issues at the interface of medical ethics and health policy.

Dr. Sade currently serves in many roles related to medical ethics, clinical ethics, bioethics, and health policy at the local and national levels. At MUSC, he is the Director of the Institute of Human Values in Health Care, Director of the Core Research Ethics Section of MUSC’s Clinical Translational Science Award, and serves on the MUSC Ethics Committee. Nationally, he serves as Chair of the Ethics Committee of the American Association for Thoracic Surgery, and Chair of the Standards and Ethics Committee of the Society of Thoracic Surgeons, and also serves on the Ethics Committees of the United Network for Organ Sharing, the Association for Organ Procurement Organizations and the American Board of Medical Specialties.  His service on the American Medical Association’s Council on Ethical and Judicial Affairs began in 2000, and he retired from the Council as Chair in 2007.