April 16, 2012

Renowned patient advocate to give 19th Shallenberger Lecture

Myra Christopher, the Kathleen M. Foley Chair for Pain and Palliative Care at the Center for Practical Bioethics and a nationally renowned patient advocate, will deliver the 19th annual Shallenberger Lecture in Ethics at noon on Tuesday, April 17. The lecture will be held at The Johns Hopkins Hospital’s Hurd Hall and is titled “Addressing the Gaps Between Knowledge and Practice in Advance Care Planning.”

Each year, the Shallenberger Lecture in Ethics series invites a speaker from outside Johns Hopkins to address a complex contemporary issue in medical ethics. Christopher, the founding president and CEO of the Center for Practical Bioethics, in Kansas City, Mo., has expertise in advance care planning and end-of-life policy, public outreach and advocacy.

Christopher worked with Sen. John Danforth, of Missouri, to draft the Patient Self-Determination Act, which became law in 1990, and collaborated with the RAND Institute to develop a 2009 report to Congress on end-of-life planning. She also directed Community State Partnerships to Improve End-of-Life Care, an $11.25 million grant award program.

A frequent lecturer on the ethics of pain management for the terminally ill, Christopher helped to bring end-of-life care issues to national attention by serving as public outreach adviser to Bill Moyers for his PBS documentary On Our Own Terms.

Among the honors Christopher has received for her work to improve care for those suffering from advanced illness and chronic pain are the American Academy of Pain Medicine’s Patient Advocacy Award, the American Academy of Critical Care Nursing’s Pioneering Spirit Award and the Marian Gray Secundy SANKOFA Award for efforts to improve palliative and end-of-life care for African-Americans.

The lecture series is named for the Rev. Clyde Shallenberger, director of the Johns Hopkins Chaplaincy Service from 1963 to 1993, who provided leadership for the creation of the hospital’s Ethics Committee and Consultation Service.

The 19th annual Shallenberger Lecture in Ethics is sponsored by the Johns Hopkins Hospital Ethics Committee and Consultation Service and the Johns Hopkins Berman Institute of Bioethics.