Douglas B. White, MD
Faculty Scholars Program Committee

Douglas B. White, MD

  • Professor of Critical Care Medicine, Medicine, and Clinical Translational Science
  • Vice Chair for Faculty Development
  • University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine

Douglas White is Vice Chair and UPMC Endowed Professor of Critical Care Medicine at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. He received his MD from the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) in 1999 and completed a residency in Internal Medicine and a fellowship in Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine at UCSF. While at UCSF, he also completed a Master’s degree in Epidemiology and Biostatistics and a fellowship in Bioethics under Bernard Lo. Dr. White directs the University of Pittsburgh Program on Ethics and Decision Making in Critical Illness. His research program encompasses both empirical research on and normative ethical analysis of surrogate decision-making for patients with life-threatening illness. He has several ongoing NIH-funded studies. He has also published widely using both quantitative and qualitative methods to examine the process of surrogate decision making in intensive care units. In conducting this work, Dr. White collaborates with a multi-disciplinary group of investigators, which includes faculty with expertise in bioethics, law, philosophy, sociology, biostatistics, and health services research.  His empirical research program has two central aims: 1) to identify factors that adversely affect surrogate decision-making for critically ill patients; and 2) to develop and test interventions to improve surrogate decision-making. His normative work focuses on ethical issues that arise in intensive care units, including the allocation of scarce resources, resolving futility disputes, responding to conscience-based treatment refusals by clinicians, and developing fair processes of decision making for incapacitated patients who lack surrogate decision makers.

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Committee Member Q & A

We asked each Committee Member four questions to gain insight into who they are and what they value in bioethics scholarship and the Faculty Scholars Program.

What professional activity or accomplishment are you most proud of?

Leading a multidisciplinary research program that uses empirical and normative methods to develop and test interventions to improve surrogate decision making for patients who are unable to make decisions for themselves.

In your work, how have you engaged with people who face bioethics dilemmas in their professional activities or personal lives?

I’ve been fortunate in my career to serve as a mentor to scholars pursuing empirical bioethics research, a lead investigator on trials of interventions to improve care of patients and families, an advisor to professional societies and governments on ethical health policy, and a clinician caring for critically ill patients and their families.

Who has been affected by your work in bioethics?

I hope that my professional efforts have improved how clinicians support critically ill patients and their families and contributed to the development of robust policy recommendations around ethical issues in the care of seriously ill patients.

What do you view as the greatest strength of the Greenwall Faculty Scholars Program?

The diversity of expertise of the Scholars is a tremendous strength of the Faculty Scholars Program. Scholars range from moral philosophers and legal scholars to medical anthropologists and clinicians — all of whom have a shared passion for addressing ethical issues at the intersection of health policy and practice.