Each year the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) Section on Bioethics presents the Academy’s highest honor in bioethics, the William G. Bartholome Award for Ethical Excellence. The award is named in honor of Dr. Bartholome, who made significant contributions to the field of pediatric ethics, and thus to the medical care of children. This year the Section proudly presented the award to Tomas Silber, M.D., M.A.S.S., adolescent medicine specialist and executive committee member of the Ethics Program at Children’s National Hospital and professor emeritus at George Washington University.
Dr. Silber has dedicated more than fifty years of work to reflecting, writing, teaching and devoting his energy to the divulgation of the field of pediatric ethics. He says it’s an honor to be recognized by his peers with this award.
“As a very young physician, I edited several issues of Pediatric Annals to Pediatric Ethics. One of the contributors I invited was actually Dr. Bartholome, whose seminal work on Pediatric Assent I had followed very closely and admiringly,” says Dr. Silber. “Forty years have passed since our work together, and it is a tremendous honor, now that I am emeritus, to receive the award named after him.”
As he reflects on the present day, Dr. Silber says one of the most important pediatric ethical issues is equity and social justice in the care of children and adolescents.
“Ethicists need to be proactive in dealing with systemic racism in medicine and provide consultations free of bias,” he says.
Dr. Silber is a graduate from the Facultad de Medicina de la Universidad de Buenos Aires. He did his first pediatric residency at El Hospital de Niños en Buenos Aires, his second pediatric residency at Thomas Jefferson University, as part of the community pediatrics track, his fellowship in adolescent medicine at Children’s National and his master’s in special studies (bioethics) at George Washington University. He is a fellow of the AAP, the Pediatric Society, the Academy for Eating Disorders and the Society for Adolescent Medicine and Health.
For several decades, Dr. Silber served as the director of the Pediatric Ethics Program at Children’s National.
“I am most proud of the thoughtful contributions of the multi-disciplinary team of the Ethics Committee at Children’s National, and above all how the torch has now passed to Dr. Vanessa Madrigal and her wise leadership,” says Dr. Silber.
Other standout career achievements include his leadership as chair of the Section on Bioethics of the AAP, and his contribution to the AAP Ethics Curriculum for Pediatric Residents and the chapter on adolescents in the Encyclopedia of Bioethics.
Dr. Silber extends his gratitude to the leadership of Children’s National, who he says made it possible for him to obtain his master’s degree, publish Pediatric Ethicscope and develop his skills as an ethics consultant and research subject advocate.
“Without the support I’ve been given at Children’s National, my work in the field of Pediatric Ethics would not have been possible,” he says.