Program on Medicine and Religion

Welcome to the Program on Medicine and Religion

The Program on Medicine and Religion at the University of Chicago is a leading forum for scholarship, discourse and education at the intersection of medicine and religion. The aims of this Program are to discover what shape contemporary medicine might take in different faith contexts, to foster interfaith dialogue about medicine and religion, and to encourage and advise those patients, practitioners, and communities that are currently seeking to re-invigorate the spiritual and religious dimensions of health care. If successful, this work will help patients to make medical choices that are better informed by their own (and others’) religious traditions, and help them to interpret their medical experiences in the light of spirituality and faith. This work will help health care professionals to re-imagine and re-engage medicine as a faithful practice—to experience their work as intrinsically rewarding and fulfilling. This work will also help to clarify how health care systems can better accommodate the particular needs of diverse religious communities.

The Program pursues these above aims through scholarship, training, and education. The Program promotes scholarship regarding all aspects of the intersection of medicine and religion, from the clinical encounter between patients and clinicians to broader societal and policy concerns. While open to all the diverse religious and spiritual traditions that can inform medicine, the Program primarily promotes scholarship and education related to the three Abrahamic traditions of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. The point of this focus is not to be exclusionary, but to facilitate a more robust interfaith dialogue among these traditions that share so much in common, and to pursue a greater depth of scholarship than might be possible were the Program to attempt to embrace all the world’s many faith traditions equally. The Program also seeks to train and educate those who will expand the range and depth of this field, to develop educational resources through conferences, workshops/seminars and formal coursework, and to create venues that bring together academics and laypersons, scientists and scholars of religion, health care professionals and members of the public, to consider what medicine might look like were it to be fully informed by attention to its religious and spiritual dimensions.

The Program originated as a collaborative effort involving the Department of Medicine and the Divinity School. The Program was launched January 2009 by cofounders and former UChicago faculty, Dr. Farr Curlin (Duke University) and Dr. Daniel Sulmasy (Georgetown University) and was previously led by Dr. Aasim Padela (Medical College of Wisconsin). The Program on Medicine and Religion at the University of Chicago is a sponsoring institution for the annual National Conference on Medicine and Religion. Today this Program is being currently led by Dr. John Yoon, and has benefited from grant support by the John Templeton Foundation, the Hyde Park Institute, and a generous legacy gift from Dr. and Mrs. Hugh Hazenfield.

To learn more about the Program on Medicine and Religion, access our 2023 Annual Report.

Upcoming Events

The Quandaries of Biotechnology: Theory and Practice

Friday March 22, 2024
BSLC 115
924 E 57th St.
Chicago, IL 60637
and via Zoom

1:00 pm – 6:00 pm
(See Schedule on Right Panel)
Register Here

How are new developments between biotechnology and big data including gene editing, brain-computer interfacing, and artificial intelligence changing our vision of what it means to be human? How does this bear in the ethical practices of medicine and research at the lab bench and at the bedside? How might an integrative vision of ethics contribute to this conversation? Are there alternative social imaginaries in which we can think about different technologies?

In this day-long spring symposium, scholars from the University of Chicago and the Chicagoland area are invited to discuss how biotechnology is shaping anthropology and whether the application of new biomedical technologies reflects an adequate understanding of human personhood. 

This event will be open to the public and seeks to engage particularly with current students, faculty, and medical practitioners interested in the intersection between science, medicine, technology, and theology. Publication of this program’s proceedings is a possibility. Participants are invited to return for a second symposium in fall 2024 on biotechnology and artificial intelligence.

This event is free and open to the public. This event is cosponsored by The Program on Medicine and Religion at the University of Chicago, and The Albert Gnaegi Center for Health Care Ethics at Saint Louis University. For more information, contact


1:00 – 2:30 PM CT  –  Session 1

“Medicine Within the Technological Enframing” – Kyle Karches (Saint Louis University)

“The Grand Inquisitor, Mustapha Mond, and the Attack on the Transcendentals” – Stephen Meredith (University of Chicago)

Q&A, Moderated by Jeffrey Bishop (Saint Louis University)

3:00 – 4:30 PM CT –  Session 2

“Our Biotechnologies, Ourselves: Reflections on Innovation, Identity, and Culture” – Lesley Rice (Pontifical John Paul II Institute)

“Valuing the Particular: A Theological Perspective on Human Creativity and Technology”  Silvianne Aspray-Buerki (Cambridge University)

Q&A, Moderated by Jeffrey Bishop (Saint Louis University)

5:00 – 6:00 PM CT –  Keynote Lecture

“Populations, Persons, and Precision Medicine: The Ethics of Emerging Information Technologies in Genetics and Medicine”  Paul Scherz (University of Virginia)