Dr. Thomas V. Cunningham
“Bioethics positively influences health care for patients, families, and physicians. It provides analytic and communication tools so that we can converse at the intersection of many fields. Too often, experts are siloed in their own fields, but a well-trained bioethicist is an expert at working with other experts across silos.”
Prof. Thomas V. Cunningham is part-time faculty at the Bioethics Institute. He first taught “Research Ethics,” in 2018, and has been a versatile instructor for the graduate program ever since, also teaching “Introduction to Bioethics,” “Clinical Bioethics,” and “Foundations of Philosophical Ethics”. Prof. Cunningham is the Bioethics Director for Kaiser Permanente West Los Angeles Medical Center. He received his PhD at University of Pittsburgh, in the History and Philosophy of Science. He is prolific writer and frequent public speaker – you can link to his CV below.
As a philosopher, he learned to “write my things and then let them go” – but he still gets excited about old favorite topics in the philosophy of medicine. “I like to think about it on a meta-level. What are we doing when we do clinical medicine? Medicine must be dialogical—the physician must consider what the patient thinks about the patient’s own health issue. Healing must be grounded in the patient’s values, not just the values of medicine.” In the past five years his research has focused more on quality assessment issues in clinical ethics. “I want to explore how to better align clinical ethics’ assessments with broader quality assessments in hospital systems.” He admits, “I was interested in Bioethics before I knew what it was.”
When I was a kid, we moved frequently. I read a lot. When I reached High School, there was an unusual biotechnology program, where motivated students could do some serious internships. This introduced me to bench-top bioethics and furthered my desire to think about the interfaces between science and philosophy”