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Katherine Swan Ginsburg Humanism in Medicine Program

Katherine Swan Ginsburg was a house officer at Beth Israel Hospital who died of cancer at age 34, shortly after completing her training. Katherine, whose communication skills and clinical competence were outstanding, was also widely admired for her compassion and selfless dedication to caring for her patients. To remember her and sustain her legacy, her family and loved ones provided a gift to BIDMC to:

  • Foster in all of us the values and ideals Katherine embodied.
  • Improve the quality of life of our house staff.
  • Develop curricula that address competencies for physicians relating to professionalism, ethics, and humanistic values.

The Katherine Swan Ginsburg Program encompasses annual events including a Grand Rounds presentation; awards to a house officer and faculty member; a lecture series; a week's celebration of house officers' literary, visual, and musical arts; an annual research fellowship; and several ongoing curricular activities.

Program Leadership

Faculty Director, Dr. Amy Ship, coordinates the Awards series, develops humanism in medicine curricula including the expanded Lecture series, supervises the Fellowship, and serves as a resource to house staff and faculty.

The Program works closely with the the Department of Medicine represented by Dr. Eileen Reynolds (Vice-Chair for Education), the Internal Medicine Residency Program under the leadership of Dr. Christopher Smith, and the Ethics Service headed by Dr. Lachlan Forrow.

In addition, the Program is supported by the KSG Associate Faculty, a committed group of clinicians from across disciplines within the Department of Medicine, and with diverse skills, talents and interests in ethics, communication, humanism, the humanities, and the arts.

Grand Rounds Annual Lecture

  • 2014: Ellen Goodman: Have You Had the Conversation?
  • 2013: Charles J. Hatem, MD: Reflections on the Clinician's Journey 
  • 2012: Geoff Ginsburg, MD: Convergence of a Legacy, Patient-Centeredness, and Biology: A 20 Year Journey
  • 2011: Judith S. Currier, MD: Msc: AIDS at Thirty: Reflecting Back and Looking Forward
  • 2010: Rafael Campo, MD: Cultural Competence: Poetry and the Importance of Voice in the Illness Experience
  • 2009: Anthony Back, MD: Using Communication to Bring Compassion to the Bedside
  • 2008: Timothy Quill, MD: Compassion, Hope, and Reality: Facing Death with Patients and Their Families
  • 2007: Bob Arnold, MD: Doctors' Feelings: What They Tell Us and How They Can Help Us
  • 2006: Aaron Lazare, MD: On Apology
  • 2005: Michael LaCombe, MD: The Family History
  • 2004: Atul Gawande, MD, PhD: Curiosity: On Questions that can't be Answered w/ a Randomized Trial
  • 2003: Abraham Verghese, MD: Physician, Heal Thyself
  • 2002: Lachlan Forrow, MD: Reverence for Life and the Lives of Residents
  • 2001: Edmund D. Pellegrino, MD: Professing Medicine - What Does It Mean Morally
  • 2000: Robert Coles, MD: Literature and Medicine
  • 1999: Jerome Groopman, MD: Weaving Science and The Soul
  • 1998: Myles N. Sheehan, MD: Sacred Texts, Trout Streams, and Patients: Learning to Read
  • 1997: Paul Farmer, MD, PhD: Inequalities and Outcomes: The Promise and the Challenge
  • 1996: Matt Liang, MD, MPH: Being Close or Distant: Dealing with Human Tragedies
  • 1995: Suzanne Fletcher, MD, MSC: On Being a Doctor
  • 1994: Martin Adson, MD: How to Care: The Operative Virtues
  • 1993: Jeremy Swan (Kathy's father): Lament for a Doctor

Housestaff Award

  • 2014: Jonah Cohen, MD
  • 2013: Elizabeth Housman, MD
  • 2012: Amber Moore, MD
  • 2011: Grace Farris, MD
  • 2010: Joseph Wright, MD
  • 2009: Heidi Blake, MD
  • 2008: Jillian Catalanotti, MD
  • 2007: Amy Slansky, MD
  • 2006: Alena Goldman, MD
  • 2005: Himani Chandra, MD
  • 2004: Elizabeth Sastre, MD
  • 2003: Jennifer Ting, MD
  • 2002: Kristin O'Neil, MD
  • 2001: Jenny Jen-Yi Lin, MD
  • 2000: Julius Yang, MD
  • 1999: Radhika Ramanan, MD
  • 1998: Preetha Basaviah, MD
  • 1997: Wanita Kumar, MD
  • 1996: Shahin Lockman, MD
  • 1995: Jonathan H. Blum, MD
  • 1994: John E. Butter, MD
  • 1993: Cynthia Thaik, MD

Faculty Award

In addition to the annual house staff Katherine Swan Ginsburg Award and Annual Lecture, our Program also features an annual Katherine Swan Ginsburg Faculty Award for a faculty member who, in the eyes of the house staff, demonstrates and models the same humane qualities Katherine displayed. Prior recipients include:

  • 2014: Mary Buss, MD
  • 2013: Heidi Blake, MD
  • 2012: Peter Clardy, MD
  • 2011: Michael Curry, MD
  • 2010: Julie Knopp, NP


This program also offers an annual Fellowship with financial support for a senior resident to complete a scholarly project relating to humanism in medicine. Prior fellows include: 

  • 2014: Natasha Hunter
  • 2012, 2013: Haider Warraich
  • 2011: Grace Farris & Michelle Dossett
  • 2010: Anthony Breu

Support from Donors

We also hope to continue expanding the Program in the future through additional financial support from donors. We are grateful for the support of the many people whose generosity has ensured that empathy, compassion, and service remain at the heart of medicine, no matter what challenges posed by the growth of technology, the pressures of financial constraints, or the complexities of cross-cultural encounters. We know Katherine would not want it any other way.

Contact Information

Katherine Swan Ginsburg Humanism in Medicine Program
Internal Medicine
Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center
West Campus, Deaconess Building
One Deaconess Road, Suite 305 
Boston, MA 02215
Phone: 617-632-8262
Fax: 617-632-8261