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June 27, 2007

U-M bioethicist appointed to American Medical Associationís Council on Ethical and Judicial Affairs

Council maintains code of ethics for American medicine, and develops new policies

ANN ARBOR, MI – Seven years ago, Susan Dorr Goold, M.D., MHSA, MA, helped launch the University of Michigan’s Bioethics Program, and became its first director. Since that time, she has led a team of ethics researchers from around the U-M Health System and other areas of the University who study a broad range of topics in medical and life-sciences ethics.

Susan Goold, M.D.On Saturday, Goold was named to one of the nation’s preeminent ethics panels: the Council on Ethical and Judicial Affairs of the American Medical Association. At the annual meeting of the AMA’s House of Delegates, she was asked to serve by the AMA’s new president, Ronald M. Davis, M.D. and nominated by the American College of Physicians.

“It’s a tremendous honor to be given the opportunity to contribute to the code of ethics that guides American medicine, and to join the panel that essentially ‘writes the book’ on ethical and professional issues,” says Goold, an associate professor at the U-M Medical School and U-M School of Public Health.

Goold will be the only trained bioethicist on the panel. The six other members include leading physicians from many specialties, and two physicians-in-training. Each serves a seven-year term.

Practicing doctors, clinical affairs leaders, accrediting bodies, state boards, the courts, media and the public all turn to the AMA’s Code of Medical Ethics for guidance. The council maintains and updates the code, which dates back 160 years, and issues opinions on new and evolving issues that are then voted upon by the House of Delegates. The council also has jurisdiction over the appeals that AMA member physicians can make to rulings by state and specialty medical societies.

Goold says this is a particularly interesting time to be elected to the council, because of her specialty in the ethics of medical resource allocation.

“Doctors practicing today struggle with questions about resource stewardship, patient advocacy, financial incentives, diminished professional autonomy for clinical decisions, a prevailing culture of medicine-as-business, and declining trust in physicians,” she says. “I am especially interested in bringing the council's attention to the ethical aspects of medical practice associated with health care financing and organization, and believe I can serve as a resource for the council in that area.”

Goold’s research focuses on the allocation of scarce healthcare resources, and especially on the perspectives of patients and citizens.

She is a co-developer of a game called CHAT (Choosing Healthplans All Together) that has been used by educators, community-based organizations, employer groups, and others in order to obtain citizens’ and employees’ input on health benefit priorities, especially in the design of basic benefits packages.

After earning her undergraduate degree from the University of Colorado, Goold graduated from the U-M Medical School and went on to earn graduate degrees from the U-M School of Public Health, and Michigan State University.

She joined the faculty of the Division of General Medicine in the U-M Medical School’s Department of Internal Medicine in 1992, and joined the faculty of U-M’s Robert Wood Johnson Clinical Scholars Program in 1998. In 2006, she was a visiting associate professor at the Health Services Research Centre of Victoria University in Wellington, New Zealand.

She has previously been a member of the AMA’s Working Group on Institutional Ethics, and of the American College of Physicians’ Ethics and Human Rights Committee, and the Michigan State Medical Society’s Bioethics Committee, and served on the Board of Directors for the American Society for Bioethics and Humanities.

For more information on the U-M Bioethics Program, visit

For more information on the AMA’s Council on Ethical and Judicial Affairs, visit

Written by: Kara Gavin


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