Surgical Ethics

Surgical Ethics in the Center for Biomedical Ethics and Society provides the collaborative infrastructure for normative and empirical investigations into topics important to surgical patient care. We educate on these topics at Vanderbilt, disseminate our knowledge through publications and presentations internationally, and train students, residents, and faculty in surgical ethics research. Our mission is to enhance the quality and impact of surgical ethics in practice and scholarship.

Current Initiatives

  1. Supporting scholarship by surgical and anesthesia trainees and medical students on surgical ethics topics (see sidebar)
  2. Developing and maintaining a Surgical Ethics Clearinghouse of topic-specific research and articles (see sidebar).
  3. Building a database of surgical ethics consults and cases for training and research.
  4. Identifying competencies in ethics for surgical trainees


We hold quarterly surgical ethics research seminars as part of the Center for Biomedical Ethics faculty research program. Dr. Allan Peetz leads a General Surgery Ethics M&M on months with fifth Wednesdays at 6am in Light Hall.

The Center for Biomedical Ethics and Society also developed a conference on the Ethical, Legal and Social Implications of Surgical Recording, held virtually on May 14th, 2021. More details on the conference can be found at

An annotated bibliography on recording in the operating room that was compiled for this conference can be found here


Surgical Ethics Program Faculty

Brian C. Drolet, M.D., F.A.C.S.

Assistant Professor of Plastic Surgery and Biomedical Informatics
Research Interests: Ethics Education
Elisa J. Gordon

Elisa J. Gordon, Ph.D., M.P.H.

Professor, Department of Surgery Research
Director, Surgical Outcomes Research
Director, Transplant Outcomes Research
Center for Biomedical Ethics and Society
Research interests: Transplant Ethics, Informed Consent, Surgical Innovations


Alexander Langerman, M.D., S.M., F.A.C.S.

Associate Professor Department of Otolaryngology, Head & Neck Surgery
Associate Professor of Radiology and Radiological Sciences
Director of Surgical Ethics Program
Course Director Foundations of Clinical Care Ethics Curriculum
Research Interests: Surgical Transparency, Informed Consent, Data collection in the Operating Room, Overlapping Surgery

Mayur B. Patel, M.D., M.P.H., F.A.C.S., F.C.C.M.

Associate Professor (with Tenure) of Surgery, Neurosurgery, and Hearing & Speech Sciences
Research Interests: Palliative Care Ethics

Allan Byron Peetz, M.D.

Assistant Professor of Surgery Division of Trauma and Surgical Critical Care
Research Interests: Trauma Ethics