Ethics Grand Rounds

Our 2023-24 series has concluded.

Please subscribe to our newsletter for forthcoming updates about the 2024-25 series, beginning this fall. 

2024 Series: Ethics and Climate Change

The Ethics Grand Rounds 2023/24 series will focus on Ethics and Climate Change. Please subscribe to the Division of Ethics newsletter, follow us on social media, and check this page for series updates as they become available. 

Equity in the Face of Climate Change: Confronting Global Health Challenges

Watch the recording here.

Speakers: Darby Jack, PhD, Sabiha Essack, B. Pharm., M. Pharm., PhD, Laura Bothwell, PhD, MA.

Moderator: Alexis K. Walker, PhD

Global populations experiencing health inequities, such as life expectancy, infant mortality, infectious diseases, and chronic illness, are also more vulnerable to the harms of climate change. Climate change significantly impacts global health, disproportionately affecting vulnerable populations. What health risks are being introduced by climate change, and how will existing challenges be exacerbated? By understanding who is most affected and how, this session will discuss practical solutions to stemming global disparities from climate change. Our expert panel will explore the health disparities arising from climate change, including the emergence of diseases in new areas and the exacerbation of existing health challenges.

Climate Change and Children’s Health: Challenges and Sol​​utions

Watch the recording here. 

Speakers: Samantha Ahdoot, MD, Frederica P. Perera, DrPH, PhD, & Stephanie Lee, MD, MPH, FAAP.

Moderator: Sandra Soo-Jin Lee, PhD

In an era marked by escalating climate change, what health issues are children likely to encounter? Children are uniquely vulnerable to the impact of climate with lifelong consequences on learning, physical development, chronic disease, or other serious complications. There is mounting evidence of increased risk to children due to increasing temperatures, rising sea levels, and unpredictable wildfire seasons. For example, the recent EPA report notes the dramatic increase in diagnoses of asthma resulting from global warming. Watch our conversation with leading experts in pediatrics and environmental health on strategies for mitigating the potential harm of climate change on children’s health.

The Greenwall Foundation's William C. Stubing Memorial Lecture: Can Mental Health Save the World?

Watch the recording here.


  • Gary Belkin, MD, PhD
  • Michel Martin

The Greenwall Foundation and Columbia University’s Division of Ethics hosted the 2023 William C. Stubing Memorial Lecture in-person in New York City and online. Gary Belkin, MD, PhD, Director of the Billion Minds Project and Chair of COP2 discussed: Can Mental Health Save the World? Dr. Belkin was joined by NPR’s Michel Martin, host of NPR’s Morning Edition and contributor to PBS’s Amanpour & Company, in a discussion on issues at the intersection of mental health, climate change, and bioethics.

About the William C. Stubing Memorial Lecture

William C. Stubing served as President of The Greenwall Foundation for 21 years. In 2016, the Foundation established the William C. Stubing Memorial Lecture in honor of its beloved former President, who guided the Foundation to its current focus on bioethics. Previous Lectures have covered timely topics in bioethics: automation and inequity in healthcare, the public health and ethical challenges of COVID-19, the social inequities revealed by the pandemic, physician aid-in-dying, drug pricing, and genome editing.

2022-2023 Series: Incarceration and Health Justice

The 2022-2023 Ethics Grand Rounds series will explore the relationship between health and incarceration and the impact on community, family and individual health, the specific mechanisms through which the paradigm of criminal justice and the conditions of incarceration exacerbate health disparities and explores policies and interventions necessary to fulfill goals of health justice. 

The series integrates multidisciplinary perspectives and will focus on the educational, historical, and clinical dimensions of incarceration and health justice, including speakers in research, teaching and advocacy roles, and those with lived experience at the intersections of justice and healthcare. We hope the series will catalyze action that directly addresses mass incarceration and its health effects, both from within and outside of academia.

Medicalizing and Criminalizing Mental Health

Watch the Recording Here


  • Leah G. Pope, PhD, New York State Psychiatric Institute and Columbia University.
  • Kimberly Sue, MD PhD, Yale School of Medicine.
  • Fay Owens, Urban Justice Center Mental Health Project.

Moderator: Sandra Soo-Jin Lee, PhD, Chief, Division of Ethics, Professor of Medical Humanities and Ethics, Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons

Description: Individuals experiencing difficulties while living with a mental health diagnosis are often picked up by law enforcement. They are then taken – and set up to be entangled in medical and legal systems, or even killed. Despite policies in the United States to address mental health stigma, the gap between needed care and imposed interventions remains wide. How do we know that new interventions are working, and who are they working for? What more could we be doing? This Ethics Grand Rounds session will explore the way mental illness has routinely been both medicalized and criminalized, the impact of incarceration on mental health at large, and the work being done to promote harm reduction in New York City and beyond.

Resources: Click here for a list of resources mentioned during this session.

Improving Equity, Transparency and Accountability of Research in the Age of Mass Incarceration

Watch the Recording Here

Division of Ethics Grand Rounds Series on Incarceration and Health Justice
Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons, Columbia University Irving Medical Center


  • Emily Wang, MD, Professor, Yale School of Medicine
  • Lisa Puglisi, MD, Assistant Professor of Medicine, Yale School of Medicine
  • Michelle Daniel Jones, ABD, 6th Year Doctoral Student, American Studies, New York University

Moderator: Sandra Soo-Jin Lee, PhD, Chief, Division of Ethics, Professor of Medical Humanities and Ethics, Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons

Description: Research historically has taken advantage of the most vulnerable populations, leading to stricter legal and ethical research guidelines. Still, there are many grey areas in the responsible and ethical conduct of research that remain problematic and unresolved. Are incarcerated individuals truly able to make informed and un-coerced choices about participating in research? This session explores the ethical principles and policies surrounding the conduct of research with incarcerated individuals, and what factors may make research with this population either fair or coercive.

Resources: Click here for a list of resources mentioned during this session.

Viral Justice: Pandemics, Policing, and Public Bioethics

Watch the recording here

Speaker: Ruha Benjamin, PhD

Professor of African American Studies at Princeton University and Founding Director of the Ida B. Wells Just Data Lab

Moderator: Sandra Soo-Jin Lee, PhD

Chief of the Division of Ethics and Professor of Medical Humanities and Ethics, Columbia University, Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons

Description: Dr. Ruha Benjamin examines the topic of incarceration, policing and health justice and specifically, how incarceration in the US must be understood in terms of health and equity. In this talk, Dr. Benjamin discusses the twin crises of COVID-19 and police violence, mapping the multiple vectors through which racism gets under the skin, into the blood stream, attacking our bodies and body politic. She offers a vision of change, viral justice – as a practical and principled approach to transmuting a hostile racial climate into one that is more habitable, hopeful, and just. Following her talk, Dr. Benjamin joined in conversation with the audience moderated by Dr. Sandra Soo-Jin Lee.

Resources: Click here for a list of resources mentioned during this session.

2021-2022 Series: Race and Biomedicine

The Division of Ethics first Ethics Grand Rounds Series was held during the Fall and Spring of 2021-22.

Anti-Racism in Medical Education: Addressing Barriers to Change

Watch the recording here

Speaker: Clarence H. Braddock III, MD, MPH, MACP

Executive Vice Dean and Vice Dean for Education in the David Geffen School of Medicine at the University of California, Los Angeles

Discussant: Monica Lypson, MD, MHPE

Vice Dean for Education and the Rolf H. Scholdager Professor of Medicine at Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons

Moderator: Sandra Soo-Jin Lee, PhD

Chief of the Division of Ethics and Professor of Medical Humanities and Ethics, Columbia University, Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons

Description: Many medical schools across the US have initiated anti-racism efforts in the wake of the murder of George Floyd in the summer of 2020. These efforts mirror broader civic discourse on racism in US society, seen by some as overdue but positive, and by others with skepticism, especially those in Black or other minoritized communities. Will these medical school efforts fundamentally change the nature of medical training and medicine itself? The answer lies in the degree to which so-called anti-racism initiatives authentically address deep-seated barriers that have thwarted all such efforts in the past, and that loom larger as the prospect for fundamental change increases. Dr. Clarence Braddock discusses five substantial barriers that threaten anti-racism goals in medical education. Following his talk, Dr. Braddock joins a conversation with Dr. Monica Lypson moderated by Dr. Sandra Soo-Jin Lee.

Innovation for Equity: Fostering a More Democratic & Just Scientific Enterprise

Watch the recording here

Speaker: Alondra Nelson, PhD

Harold F. Linder Professor, Institute for Advanced Study

Deputy Director for Science and Society, White House Office of Science and Technology Policy is external and opens in a new window)

Moderator: Sandra Soo-Jin Lee, PhD

Chief, Division of Ethics Professor of Medical Humanities and Ethics Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons

Co-sponsored by: The Columbia University Health Equity Lecture Series and the CUIMC Office of Faculty Professional Development, Diversity & Inclusion.

About Ethics Grand Rounds

Building on the divisional mission in education, research, and clinical ethics, the series aims to bring ideas to action in re-imagining and transforming biomedicine research, education, and healthcare towards social justice, and to create an opportunity for catalyzing conversations across the university around issues of social justice and ethics. The first season’s theme is “Race and Biomedicine,” with individual talks focused on the areas of education, clinical medicine, and research.

  • Please let us know your ideas for speakers, topics, and improvements to the series.  We want to hear from you!  Please fill out the post-event survey which will go to all registants or email us any time at

Grand Rounds Organizing Committee

The Ethics Grand Rounds Planning committee includes representatives from across disciplines and across the University.

  • Sandra Soo-Jin Lee, PhD – Chief Division of Ethics, Department of Medical Humanities and Ethics, CUIMC
  • Lydia Dugdale, MD, MAR – Associate Professor of Medicine, Director of Clinical Medical Ethics, Department of Medicine, CUIMC; Internist, Associate Director of Clinical Ethics, NYP
  • Joseph H. Eveld, MS, MFA – Program Manager, Narrative Medicine, Department of Medical Humanities and Ethics, CUIMC
  • Julia Iyasere, MD, MBA – Vice President, Center for Health Justice and Associate Chief Medical Officer, Service Lines, NYP | Assistant Professor of Medicine, Department of Medicine, CUIMC
  • Maya Sabatello, LLB, PhD – Associate Professor of the Division of Ethics, Department of Medical Humanities and Ethics, CUIMC
  • Alexis Walker, PhD – Assistant Professor of the Division of Ethics, Department of Medical Humanities and Ethics, CUIMC
  • Lesley A. Sharp, PhD – Professor of Anthropology, Barnard College | Senior Research Scientist, Department of Sociomedical Sciences, CUIMC
  • Jane S. Kang, MD – Rheumatology Specialist, NYP | Associate Professor of Medicine, Department of Medicine, CUIMC
  • George Hardart, MD – Associate Professor of Pediatrics and Bioethics, CUIMC, Director of the Program in Women and Children’s Bioethics; Director of Pediatric Clinical Ethics, Center for Bioethics
  • Shawna Benston, JD, MBE, MA - Director of Programs, Division of Ethics, Department of Medical Humanities and Ethics, CUIMC
  • Rachel Yarmolinsky, MS - Sr, Program Director, Division of Ethics, Department of Medical Humanities and Ethics, CUIMC
  • Dounya Alami-Nassif, MA – Administrative Coordinator, Division of Ethics, Department of Medical Humanities and Ethics, CUIMC
  • Tiana Sepahpour, MBE - Program Administrator, Division of Ethics, Department of Medical Humanities and Ethics, CUIMC
  • David Lamb, MSc - Communications Associate, Division of Ethics, Department of Medical Humanities and Ethics, CUIMC

Code of Conduct and Related Policies

By registering for Ethics Grand Rounds I agree to abide by the following statements.


Our community of scholars has attempted to nurture an academic culture that embraces the importance of diversity, supports the mentorship of young scholars, cultivates the value of interdisciplinarity, exemplifies intellectual and ethical integrity, and respects differences of opinion and perspective. With that academic culture in mind, the organizers and hosts of Ethics Grand Rounds are committed to providing a safe and productive meeting environment that fosters open dialogue and the exchange of scientific ideas, promotes equal opportunities and treatment for all participants, and is free of harassment and discrimination. All participants are expected to treat others with respect and consideration, follow venue rules, and alert organizers, staff or security of any dangerous situations or anyone in distress. Speakers are expected to uphold standards of scientific integrity and professional ethics. The Ethics Grand Rounds organizers recognize that there are areas of science that are controversial. Ethics Grand Rounds can serve as an effective forum to consider and debate science-relevant viewpoints in an orderly, respectful, and fair manner. These considerations apply to all attendees, speakers, staff, and guests at Ethics Round Rounds and apply in both in-person and virtual contexts.

Columbia University prohibits any form of harassment, be it sexual, physical, or verbal ad in-person or online. Harassing behavior includes, but is not limited to, inappropriate or intimidating behavior and language, unwelcome jokes or comments, sustained disruption, unwanted touching or attention, offensive images, photography without permission, and stalking.

Harassment should be reported immediately to an Ethics Grand Round staff in person (if in the immediate vicinity), by email to, or by calling or texting 917-532-3090. For immediate response to a dangerous situation call Public Safety at 212-305-7979 (Medical Center) or 212-854-5555 (Morningside Campus). Sanctions may range from verbal warning, to removal from the meeting without refund, to notifying the appropriate authorities at Columbia University (including the Office of Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action for Discrimination, Harassment & Gender-Based Misconduct complaints (212­-854-­5511) and/or with Public Safety at 212­-854-­5555)


Ethics Grand Rounds requires clear disclosures (including a statement on slide or poster presentations) from all presenters regarding any financial holdings, funding sources, or affiliations that might raise questions of bias or be perceived to have potentially influenced presentation content. Grand Rounds organizers expect that all speakers, organizers, and moderators are committed to full, forthright, and transparent disclosure of any potential conflicts of interest. The organizers have not prescribed an exhaustive list of potential conflicts; rather, we ask presenters to make a good faith effort to identify any issues that might reasonably be expected to raise conflict-of-interest questions.


Ethics Grand Rounds aims to encourage presentation of the latest findings by protecting researchers sharing unpublished information and protecting patient privacy. By default, attendees are prohibited from taking photos, videos, or audio recordings of speakers presenting their slides or posters as per the guidelines below. Presenters are requested to announce at the beginning of their presentation whether or not photos, recording and/or sharing of their presentation on social media are permitted during or following their presentation. 

Grand Rounds attendees and participants are encouraged to participate in social media activities about the conference by using the hashtag #Columbiaethics.  Discussion of general topics, speakers, and presentations is permitted as a way to briefly summarize or highlight material and the conference in general within the following guidelines:

  • Taking photos, videos or audiotapes of slides, posters, presenters, or questions and answers are not permitted without explicit permission by the presenter
  • Copyright and other intellectual property laws must be followed
  • Brief quotes from sessions may be shared unless the speaker explicitly asks that it not be shared (presenters are strongly encouraged to give or withhold permission at the beginning of their session)
  • Social media posts cannot imply any kind of endorsement by the Columbia Ethics