Farr A. Curlin, MD

Affiliate, Program on Medicine and Religion
Instructor, Trent Center for Bioethics, Humanities, and History of Medicine, Department of Medicine, and Duke Divinity School
Duke University

Dr. Curlin is a hospice and palliative care physician, researcher, and medical ethicist. He served as founding Co-Director of the Program on Medicine and Religion from 2008-2013. In 2014, Dr. Curlin moved to Duke University where he will become the Josiah C. Trent Professor of Medical Humanities in the Trent Center for Bioethics, Humanities & History of Medicine. There he also holds joint appointments in the Department of Medicine and the Duke Divinity School, where he works with colleagues to develop an Initiative on Theology, Medicine and Culture.

After graduating from the University of North Carolina School of Medicine, Curlin moved to the University of Chicago where he completed internal medicine residency training and fellowships in the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Clinical Scholars Program and the MacLean Center for Clinical Medical Ethics. He joined the faculty in 2003.

Curlin’s empirical research charts the influence of physicians' moral traditions and commitments, both religious and secular, on physicians' clinical practices. He and colleagues have completed a series of national studies that describe religion-associated variations in US physicians’ clinically relevant attitudes and practices across an array of clinical domains. The results of these studies have been published widely. Current research explores the moral and professional formation of physicians across the course of medical training.

Curlin’s normative scholarship addresses whether and in what ways physicians' religious commitments ought to shape their clinical practices in our plural democracy. He is particularly concerned with the ends of medicine and the moral dimensions of medical practice, clinical decision-making, and the doctor-patient relationship, as well as with moral formation in medical education. He has been a Greenwall Foundation Faculty Scholar in Bioethics, and in 2008 he gave expert testimony before the President’s Council on Bioethics regarding conscientious refusals by physicians (transcript here). He went on to edit a special issue of Theoretical Medicine and Bioethics titled, Conscience and Clinical Practice: Medical Ethics in the Face of Moral Controversy. He lectures widely about religion, conscience, and the moral and spiritual dimensions of the practice of medicine.

Curlin remains an active clinician, caring primarily for patients with advanced illness and at the end of life in the Duke Center for Palliative Care.