About The Center For Practical Bioethics

At a glance


Ethical discourse and action advance the health and dignity of all persons.


To raise and respond to ethical issues in health and healthcare.

Our Guiding Principles

To be unfettered by special interests

To listen actively, think critically and act wisely

To lead and promote the leadership of others

To collaborate with those who commit to civil discourse

To work diligently towards our mission

Our Core Value

Respect for human dignity

We believe that all persons have intrinsic worth.

We promote and protect the interests of those whose voices have not been heard or heeded.

We commit to the just delivery of healthcare.

Our Case

The Case for Practical Bioethics

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The Center for Practical Bioethics (CPB), founded in 1984, is a Kansas City-based nonprofit nationally recognized for its work in practical bioethics. On the PERSONAL level, we provide guidance to patients, families and clinicians grappling with hard choices. On the PROFESSIONAL/EDUCATIONAL level, we teach bioethics to medical students, clinicians and lay leaders. On the POLICY level, we address ethical issues by bringing diverse groups together to work collaboratively, recommend guidelines and policies, develop programs and disseminate thousands of free resources.


“Practical” is what distinguishes the Center from nearly all other bioethics centers across the country. Most are based in academic institutions and focus primarily on theoretical issues. The Center applies bioethics to the lived experiences of patients, providers and policymakers throughout the region and nation.


The Center’s work encompasses three broad areas:

Ethics Education
And Consultation

  • Providing ethics leadership, education, mentoring and consultation for Kansas University Medical Center and The University of Kansas Health System
  • Providing bioethics instruction within Kansas City University (KCU) curriculum
  • Managing the Ethics Committee Consortium
  • Developing clinical ethics services in hospitals and health systems and serving on hospital ethics committees throughout the region
  • Presenting professional and community-based educational programs (e.g., lectures, symposia, webinars)
  • Responding to consumers and policymakers facing ethical dilemmas who request guidance directly from the Center

Advance Care

Advance Care Planning builds on the Center’s pioneering legacy work in serious illness and end-of-life care, with focus on increasing participation in advance care planning in minority communities and though employee benefit programs.

Systems Change

Systems Change responds to contemporary issues in healthcare that raise ethical concerns and need for systems change. Current focus is on ethics of COVID-19, artificial intelligence in healthcare, population health and civic engagement, and providing a voice in research and treatment for people who live in chronic pain.

What is Bioethics?

Ethics is a philosophical discipline pertaining to notions of good and bad, right and wrong-our moral life in community. Bioethics is the application of ethics to the field of medical and healthcare. Ethicists and bioethicists ask relevant questions more than provide sure and certain answers.

5 Elements Of Bioethics

2022 Impact Report


From providers in clinical practice to patients and families making difficult choices for themselves and loved ones, your support helps thousands each year. We take pride in the values you advance though the accomplishments described in these reports.

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2021 Impact Report

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2020 Impact Report

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Every day is different at the Center, with activities in multiple program and issue areas. On a typical day, perhaps…

… Terry Rosell, Rosemary Flanigan Chair, is providing an ethics consultation for the heart transplant program at the University of Kansas Medical Center and preparing a lecture for medical students, residents and fellows.

…Ryan Pferdehirt, Director of Membership and Ethics Education, is onsite at a hospital meeting with the medical team, patient and family members of a patient who says he wants to die.

…Polo Camacho, Program Manager, is preparing for an Ethics Committee Consortium workshop.

…Lindsey Jarrett, Principal Investigator on the Ethical AI Initiative, is leading a meeting of the Advisory Council.

…Erika Blacksher, Principal Investigator on the Civic Learning, Dialogue and Connection to Advance Health Equity Project, is working with the research team to build a democratic deliberation toolkit for eventual testing in Missouri and Kansas.

…Cindy Leyland, Vice President of Operations and Fund Development, is overseeing program management, fundraising, marketing and communications.

…John Carney, President and CEO, is meeting with major donors and community partners about strategic initiatives.

The Center’s small staff is also hard at work meeting with ethics committee members at area hospitals, communicating with stakeholders and responding to press calls on timely issues, sharing insights on social networks, and presenting to community groups.

We engage individuals, families, health professionals and policymakers locally and across the country to gain understanding and find common ground on complex healthcare issues.

More advance care planning with emphasis on shared decision-making among patients, families, clinicians and health systems.

Better understanding of pain, its causes, treatments, costs and benefits leading to better pain management.

Improved quality and better health outcomes resulting from more patient protections and participation in research based on big data from every patient encounter.

Expanded community and professional bioethics education, leading to improved awareness and more satisfactory resolution of ethical issues in healthcare.

Development and growth of ethics consultation and ethics committees to better discern what ought to be done given all that can be done.

The Center is known for its legacy and ongoing work on end-of-life issues, aging, patients’ rights, pain and its treatment, stem cell research, and disparities in access to and quality of care, and since early March 2020, providing ethical guidance through the COVID-19 pandemic. The Center is also known for providing practical resources to help patients, families and clinicians in these and other areas.

Our mission is supported by individual, foundation and corporate philanthropy, as well as contractual and fee income from ethics education and consultation work.