Oakland University Lecture to Discuss Expanded use of Unapproved Drugs for the Terminally Ill

The ethics of compassion will be the focus when Oakland University welcomes renowned bioethicist Arthur Leonard Caplan, Ph.D., to campus for its 2017 Richard J. Burke Lecture in Philosophy, Religion and Society. The event takes place at 7:00 p.m. on Thursday, January 5, in the Oakland Center Banquet Rooms.

The lecture, entitled The Ethics of Compassion: Expanding Access to Unapproved Drugs for the Terminally Ill, will examine issues surrounding “compassionate use,” which refers to the treatment of a seriously ill patient using a new, unapproved drug when no other treatments are available. Event organizers say that Dr. Caplan’s background and expertise make him particularly qualified to deliver the Burke Lecture.

Arthur Leonard Caplan, Ph.D.

Arthur Leonard Caplan, Ph.D.

“The Burke Lecture aims to stimulate philosophical discussion about pressing issues,” said Mark Navin, associate professor of philosophy. “Dr. Caplan is a perfect Burke Lecturer, since his career includes ground-breaking academic research and institution-building leadership. This is especially true on the issue of ‘compassionate use,’ as Dr. Caplan is both a top researcher and a leader of an organization making real-world decisions about the use of unapproved drugs.”

Dr. Caplan is founding head of the Division of Bioethics at New York University Langone Medical Center in New York City and is also the Drs. William F. and Virginia Connolly Mitty Professor of Bioethics. He has served on a number of national and international committees. Of particular relevance for this year’s Burke Lecture is that Dr. Caplan is the chairperson of the Compassionate Use Advisory Committee (CompAC), an independent group of internationally recognized medical experts, bioethicists and patient representatives which advises Janssen/Johnson & Johnson about requests for compassionate use of some of its investigational medicines.

He is also the recipient of many awards and honors. In 2014, he was selected to receive the Public Service Award from the National Science Foundation/National Science Board. In 2016, he was presented with the Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Society for Bioethics and Humanities. Dr. Caplan is the author or editor of 32 books and more than 600 papers in peer-reviewed journals. His most recent book is Replacement Parts: The Ethics of Procuring and Replacing Organs in Humans.

Richard J. Burke was the first faculty member hired at Oakland, and he taught at the university for 46 years. He established an endowment for the Richard J. Burke Lecture Series in Philosophy, Religion, and Society. This annual event has since brought major philosophers to campus, including Amartya Sen, Judith Butler, Daniel Dennett, and Peter Singer.

Admission is free, but reservations are requested. For more information or to reserve a space, contact Ann Zimmerman at (248) 370-3390 or zimmerm2@oakland.edu. For more information on Burke and past lectures from the annual series, visit oakland.edu/phil/ burkelecture.


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