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Vanderbilt Ethicist Named Director of Center For Healthcare Ethics At Cedars-Sinai Medical Center

Los Angeles - July 10, 2007 - Stuart G. Finder, PhD, has been named director of the Center for Healthcare Ethics at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. Prior to joining Cedars-Sinai, Finder was senior associate director of the Center for Biomedical Ethics and Society at Vanderbilt University in Nashville.

While there, he and colleagues built a nationally recognized clinical ethics service and developed innovative ethics participation in several clinical research studies. Described as a calm, thoughtful professional, Finder believes it is important to use a systematic approach in applying ethical principles to caring for the critically ill. Toward this end, he became the first ethicist ever to make regular rounds in the Vanderbilt Medical Intensive Care Unit.

"In many ways, I will bring this model with me to Cedars-Sinai," says Finder, who emphasizes that health care policies, medical ethics, and careful contemplation have one thing in common – clinical care. "Medical ethics is not grand theories," he says. "It's about people's experiences. We don't just sit in boardrooms and offices and think up questions. We have to maintain the core of clinical care. Everything else only makes sense if we maintain a clinical element."

For Finder, understanding the meaning of life and gaining a sense of what it means to be alive in a world in which the individual has no control, is an integral part of his own experience and heritage. He views the Holocaust, in which most of his father's family died, as one of the more influential events in his life. While millions of others might feel similarly, it has influenced him particularly because it hit close to home. "It's significant to who I am," he says.

As a small boy, he remembers knowing survivors with concentration camp tattoos on their arms and with stories and backgrounds that were at once horrifying and compelling. It adds perspective and appreciation for his own life, and makes it all the more important to give careful, thoughtful consideration to the lives and experiences of others.

At Cedars-Sinai, Finder's role will include directing the medical center's Bioethics Program, which currently has three core goals:

  • Consulting with patients, families and healthcare professionals who are facing difficult ethical choices about how best to care for and treat patients;
  • Presenting educational programs to raise healthcare professionals' awareness of medical ethics issues in healthcare that they might encounter in caring for patients, and
  • Forming medical center policy in bioethics, in part by discussing ethical issues and difficult cases at monthly meetings.

In addition, Finder hopes to add a fourth main focus to the Center's work – to help Cedars-Sinai's faculty and various professional staffs identify, clarify and articulate the range of ethical considerations associated with their many responsibilities – not just as related to patient care, but also in care provider education and health-related research endeavors.

Finally, bringing to bear his experience as co-chair of the Vanderbilt University Medical Center's Ethics Committee, Finder will also play a crucial role for Cedars-Sinai's Bioethics Committee – a group of some 40 individuals representing the hospital's medical staff, nursing staff, social services, chaplaincy and the community. There, he will be a resource and provide crucial support for the Committee as it fulfills its critical function with the Medical Center.

According to Michael Langberg, MD, chief medical officer and senior vice president of Medical Affairs at Cedars-Sinai, Finder's previous experience and research, combined with his philosophy of life, make him the ideal candidate for his new role. "He has extensive experience in leading a clinical bioethics program at a major teaching hospital," says Langberg. "Beyond that, we strongly believe that his personal and professional philosophy are congruent with Cedars-Sinai's goals."

"The Center for Healthcare Ethics at Cedars-Sinai serves several functions, from educating staff, patients and members of the community about ethics issues that hospitals and families face to reviewing complex cases and consulting with medical professionals and patients' families during times when difficult patient care decisions need be made," added Langberg. "In this way, the Center not only benefits the medical professionals here at Cedars-Sinai, but it will also be a vital resource and support to many diverse people in the communities that we serve."

Finder brings with him a wealth of experience in the areas of bioethics, research ethics and medical ethics. In addition to his role as senior associate director of the Center for Biomedical Ethics and Society at Vanderbilt University, he has served as associate director of the Center for Clinical and Research Ethics, assistant professor of Philosophy at the College of Arts & Sciences, and assistant professor of Medicine/Medical Ethics in the School of Medicine, all at Vanderbilt.

His experience also includes conducting clinical ethics consultations and regular rounds throughout Vanderbilt University Hospital, and co-directing ethics-related research activities. He served on the hospital's Heart/Lung Transplantation Selection Committee.

Finder completed two fellowships at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City. He earned his Ph.D. in Philosophy from the University of Utah and a Master of Arts in Philosophy of Language from the University of Wisconsin in Madison. He also completed a Master of Arts in General Philosophy at the University of Colorado in Boulder, and earned his Bachelor of Science in Environmental Science at Allegheny College in Meadville, PA.

Finder is married and has three children, including a set of twins.