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). Today this Program is being currently led by Dr. Aasim Padela, and has benefited from grant support by the John Templeton Foundation and a generous legacy gift from Dr. and Mrs. Hugh Hazenfield.