Tribute to Edmund D. Pellegrino, MD


Edmund D. Pellegrino, MD, MACP, a physician, moral philosopher, and founding figure in bioethics, died June 13, 2013 at his home in Bethesda at the age of 92. 

Dr. Pellegrino was a long-time friend and fellow of CBHD. A frequent plenary speaker at the Center's annual summer conference, he also served as a Distinguished Fellow in the Center's Academy of Fellows. For more information on his life and work, please visit his complete bio. In 2011, CBHD installed the Edmund D. Pellegrino Special Collection in Medical Ethics and Philosophy in appreciation for his contributions to Christian bioethics and, specifically, his work with CBHD.

In memory of Dr. Pellegrino's many contributions to medical ethics, the foundations of bioethics, and the advancement of a distinctly Christian bioethics rooted in Judeo-Christian Hippocratism, members of the Center's Academy of Fellows offer the following Tribute in his honor.



CBHD Academy of Fellow Tributes to Dr. Pellegrino

Ed Pellegrino was a gentleman, a scholar, a teacher and a committed Christian. He had a clear understanding of professionalism and virtue. I learned so much from him and used that learning in my teaching of others. I do not have a long list of 'heroes,' but Dr. Pellegrino was clearly at the top. -Robert D. Orr, MD, Senior Fellow

Ed Pellegrino has been my friend, mentor, colleague, inspiration and hero since I first had the pleasure and honor of learning from him 21 years ago. His graciousness, clear-thinking, skilled communication, love of medicine and the physician-patient covenant, insight into the critical importance of virtue, and fierce defense of life are an amazing legacy to us. We have a substantial challenge and obligation to carry on this work and witness. -C. Christopher Hook, MD, Senior Fellow

It is hard to imagine bioethics without him; it is even harder to imagine Christian bioethics without him. Daniel Sulmasy, MD, PhD, Senior Fellow

Ed Pellegrino held together Christian principles and virtues in his teaching and writing, but more importantly he embodied them in his life. -Dennis P. Hollinger, PhD, Distinguished Fellow

Ed Pellegrino engaged and inspired a wide range of people in bioethics and beyond with his passion for virtuous medicine and his gracious character. His teaching at Trinity International University and participation in the work of The Center for Bioethics & Human Dignity have left a lasting mark on countless numbers of people, including myself. We celebrate his life and legacy. Medicine, ethics, the church, and the world have sustained a substantial loss with his passing. -John F. Kilner, PhD, Senior Fellow

Not only was Ed Pellegrino a formative influence in contemporary medical ethics, he possessed an all too rare combination of fidelity to his faith, brilliance in his thinking, and deep concern for humanity, especially those who called him their physician. -C. Ben Mitchell, PhD, Senior Fellow

Among the many scholars I have come to know, Ed Pellegrino was a rare gem. Though accomplished and much published, he was sincerely humble. He was always truly respectful of, and gracious towards, others, including those of differing views. No one would mistake him for being anything but a faithful Christian. -Arthur Dyck, PhD, Distinguished Fellow

Dr. Pellegrino was the consummate philosopher-physician-educator, a man of integrity who lived and taught what he believed, teaching right up to the end of his life. While we lament his death and the void that his absence will leave in our profession and our academy, Dr. Pellegrino will live on as an inspiration for us all, not only in his writing and teaching, but in the example of his perseverance and optimism in the midst of a culture of skepticism, in the example of his life as a physician, and as a man of faith, authenticity, and integrity. -Susan Haack, MD, MDiv, Associate Fellow

I was always greatly impressed by Dr. Pellegrino’s extensive knowledge, writings, and experience and by his example as a committed Christian philosopher and Hippocratic physician. Most impressive to me was his approachability and sincere interest in advising others—even those relatively new to medical ethical thought. I will always remember Dr. Pellegrino’s generosity and flexibility on short notice while in his 80s, when he offered to co-teach a course I took in bioethics with only two weeks preparation when one of the two faculty had to drop out on short notice. -Sharon A. Falkenheimer, MD, MPH, Associate Fellow

Not only was Ed Pellegrino a scholar of great erudition, as penetrating in his thinking as he was delightful in dialogue, his writings and lectures exerting worldwide influence in the field of bioethics, but he was also a physician of unwavering integrity, who exemplified in all that he said and did the harmony of reason and compassion that grew out of his Christian faith. I am thankful to have known him as a mentor and friend. May he be emulated as much as he is missed. - William P. Cheshire, Jr., MD, Senior Research Fellow

Dr. Pellegrino spoke at the first medical ethics conferences I attended in 1994. I am so thankful I became aware of him early in my career. His compassion for patients, passion for learning, and humble faith touch me deeply. They were always visible on the few occasions I had the pleasure of meeting him. His scholarship will have a lasting impact, but it is the person that he was that most impacted me. He lived out what it means to be virtuous. -Dónal O’Mathúna, PhD, Chair of the Academy of Fellows

Good medical practice is aimed at caring as well as healing. While not speaking in overtly Christian terms, Edmund Pellegrino’s Christian understanding of human relationships nonetheless came to the fore in his writings. Indeed, there can be little doubt that the story of the Good Samaritan was one underpinning his understanding of the doctor-patient relationship. -Agneta Sutton, PhD, Fellow