In Memoriam

Kathryn Moseley, MD, MPH


Naomi Laventhal, MD, HEC-C

Publish date

In Memoriam: Kathryn Moseley, MD, MPH
Topic(s): In Memoriam

On behalf of her friends and colleagues at the University of Michigan Center for Bioethics and Social Sciences in Medicine, and with deep sadness, I share the news of the passing of Dr. Kathryn Moseley on June 3rd, 2023.

Until her retirement in 2016, Kathryn was the voice of pediatric ethics at the University of Michigan. She led the Pediatric Ethics Committee and directed pediatric clinical ethics consultation spanning multiple years, structures, and formats, dedicated to maintaining the highest standard of quality and integrity, with a pioneering focus on equity and justice. She adeptly balanced this responsibility with her commitment to her busy primary care practice and her career as an independently funded health services researcher.

Kathryn was a generous mentor, sponsor and coach for me and many others, without expecting any recognition, before any of us were using words like “sponsor” or “coach.” She artfully balanced encouragement and tough love (I suspect she did this as a mother as well), order and chaos, self-care and hard work. She advocated for resources for herself and others but could also accomplish great things on a shoestring.

In an age when grit is a lauded but often elusive trait, reflection on Kathryn’s career suggests she had it in spades. She graduated from Harvard University, cum laude, in 1974. She then came to the University of Michigan to obtain her medical degree and trained in Detroit in Pediatrics (Henry Ford Hospital) and Neonatology (Children’s Hospital of Michigan). She started her career as an academic physician at St. Louis University and studied Moral Theology at the Aquinas Institute. Her career in bioethics started there and continued through a brief period in Maine (that marked her transition to general pediatrics) and her subsequent permanent return to Southeast Michigan. She spent over a decade in the Henry Ford Health System in Detroit where she served as the Director of Bioethics. During that time, she formally trained in bioethics at the MacLean Center at the University of Chicago.

In 2002, Kathryn came back to the University of Michigan, obtaining additional training and pivoting her career to health services researchers in the Susan B. Meister Child Health Evaluation and Research (CHEAR) Center, ultimately getting a Master of Public Health in 2009 (31 years after graduating from medical school!). Attuned to the roles of culture and trust as drivers of racial differences in health care decision-making and health disparities, she successfully obtained NIH funding in the form of K23 award “Predictors of Adherence and Continuity for Parents of Newborns” and an R01 award “Improving the Self-Efficacy of African American Parents in Infant Supine Sleep.”

Kathryn was an influential national presence in bioethics, serving on the American Academy of Pediatrics Bioethics Section (member education) and Committee on Bioethics (writing policy), the Society for Bioethics Consultation Board of Directors and Taskforce on Standards for Bioethics Consultation, the American Board of Pediatrics Ethics Committee (writing questions for pediatric board exams), the American Medical Associate Council on Ethical and Judicial Affairs, and the ASBH Board of Directors. She served on the AJOB editorial board and three NIH study sections. In her career she served as the chair of five distinct hospital ethics committees, the Medical Ethics Resource Network of Michigan, and the Michigan State Medical Society Bioethics Committee.

Kathryn left us with a legacy of influential presentations, publications, and policy statements, and memories of her kindness, warmth, and unfailing sense of humor. Throughout her life, and in her retirement, Kathryn was a loving wife, proud mother (and mother-in-law), and an active member of her community and church. 

Naomi Laventhal, MD, HEC-C is an Associate Professor at University of Michigan.

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