Defending Public Health against Public Opinion


A conversation with

Dr. Robert Klitzman, AB Princeton'80, MD Yale'85

Professor of Psychiatry and the Director of the Bioethics Masters Program at Columbia University

Host: Dr. Ellen Fox, BA Yale (Psychology), MD Harvard'87, HEC-C, Founder and President, Fox Ethics Consulting

Public health professionals, like any civil servants in any US administration, do battle for proper attention, funding, and institutional support as part of their job description. But it is an entirely different struggle when their recommendations are inconvenient to the public, especially when the public opinion is being actively shaped to question their veracity. Unfortunately, that is the vicious cycle of this pandemic in the US.

Join our virtual town hall as the eminent Bioethics scholar Prof. Robert Klitzman explores the multi-faceted intersection between Bioethics and Human Psychology, whether science is compelling enough to withstand the inconvenience of the truth, and how both the health professionals and the public can converge on the right path in the strife for wearing masks, social-distancing, self-quarantining, school opening, athletes’ well-being, and caring for the elderly.

Prof. Klitzman will be interviewed by Dr. Ellen Fox, bioethics consultant, educator, and policymaker. There will be a time dedicated to Q&A.

Cosponsored by:
  • Princeton Club of DC
  • Yale Club of Washington DC
  • Harvard Club of Washington DC


Robert Klitzman, M.D., is a professor of psychiatry at the College of Physicians and Surgeons and the Joseph Mailman School of Public Health, and the Director of the online and in-person Bioethics Masters and Certificate Programs at Columbia University.  He has written over 140 scientific journal articles, nine books, and numerous chapters on critical issues in bioethics regarding genetics, neuroscience, doctor-patient relationships and other areas. His books include  Designing Babies:  How Technology is Changing How We Have Children, The Ethics Police?: The Struggle to Make Human Research Safe, Am I My Genes? Confronting Fate and Family Secrets in the Age of Genetic TestingWhen Doctors Become PatientsA Year-Long Night: Tales of a Medical InternshipIn a House of Dreams and Glass: Becoming a PsychiatristBeing Positive: The Lives of Men and Women With HIVThe Trembling Mountain: A Personal Account of Kuru, Cannibals and Mad Cow Disease, and Mortal Secrets: Truth and Lies in the Age of AIDS.

Klitzman has received numerous awards for his work, including fellowships from the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation, the Russell Sage Foundation, the Commonwealth Fund, the Aaron Diamond Foundation, the Hastings Center and the Rockefeller Foundation. He is a member of the Empire State Stem Cell Commission, and the Ethics Working Group of the HIV Prevention Trials Network, and served on the U.S. Department of Defense’s Research Ethics Advisory Panel. He is a Distinguished Fellow of the American Psychiatric Association, a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, and a regular contributor to the New York Times and CNN.


Ellen Fox, M.D., HEC-C is a bioethics consultant, educator, researcher, and policymaker. Her career has focused on working with public and private sector organizations to address pressing ethical issues in health care. She specializes in developing innovative approaches to complex social problems and managing systems-level change. As President of Fox Ethics Consulting, she helps hospitals, health care systems, academic institutions, professional societies, corporations, and government agencies with ethics consultation, policy development, strategic planning, and quality improvement.

Fox is also a researcher who authored one of the most widely cited articles in the field of bioethics - a national study of ethics in U.S. hospitals. From 1999-2014 she served as Director of the National Center for Ethics in Health Care, which under her leadership became one of the preeminent ethics centers in the world. In her VA role, Fox served as Principal Advisor to the Under Secretary for Health and was responsible for national policy and education on ethics-related matters. During her tenure with VA Fox devised and led multiple high-profile national quality improvement initiatives for VA including IntegratedEthics,® iMedConsent,TM and the Life-Sustaining Treatment Decisions Initiative. Recently Fox’s consulting work has been focused on advising organizations on back-to-work or back-to-school COVID plans.



August 20, 2020 at 6:30pm - 8pm


Washington, DC
United States

Miyako Yerick

Mohammad Khan Hellen Ransom David Meyers Catherine McCarty Judi Friedson Hajung Lee Una Huang patty mayer Elyse Lackie Sharon Aufox Mary Kidney Susan Michaels-Strasser Cathy Lively Victor Wolemonwu Patrick Butler bonnie chen Kathryn Lorenz Zeenah Haddad Howard Phifer Shaharah Kirven Ebere Azumah Lana Skirboll Kelly Naranjo Ava Pliessnig Awele Utomi Katharine Sammer Anne Zimmerman Michael Menconi John Landry Susan Strawn Michael Rossano Si Yinn Lu Kathryn Moran Dominique Lallement Jonathan Fredman Stephanie Puwalski Diane W Art Walaszek Janice Gorin Katherine Hendley Rowan Kim David Landau Meryl Selig Joyce Lee Sara Bergstresser Kim Thacker Kathy Goldgeier Dr. Patricia Ruppert
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