Home » People » Robert D. Truog, MD

Robert D. Truog, MD

Robert D. Truog, MD

Contact Information

Harvard Medical School
Division of Medical Ethics
641 Huntington Avenue
Boston, MA 02115


M.A. (Philosophy) Brown University


Dr. Robert Truog is Professor of Medical Ethics, Anaesthesiology & Pediatrics at Harvard Medical School and a Senior Associate in Critical Care Medicine at Children’s Hospital Boston. Dr. Truog received his medical degree from the University of California, Los Angeles and is board certified in the practices of pediatrics, anesthesiology, and pediatric critical care medicine. He also holds a Master’s Degree in Philosophy from Brown University and an honorary Master’s of Arts from Harvard University. Dr. Truog’s major administrative roles include Director of Clinical Ethics in the Division of Medical Ethics and the Department of Social Medicine at Harvard Medical School, Director of the Institute for Professionalism and Ethical Practice at Children’s Hospital, and Chair of the Harvard Embryonic Stem Cell Research Oversight Committee (ESCRO). Dr. Truog has published more than 200 articles in bioethics and related disciplines, including recent national guidelines for providing end-of-life care in the Intensive Care Unit. He is Principle Investigator on an R0-1 grant from the NIH to improve end-of-life care in pediatric intensive care units. In his role as Director of the Institute for Professionalism and Ethical Practice, he conducts research and develops educational initiatives related to communication and relational skills. He lectures widely nationally and internationally. His writings on the subject of brain death have been translated into several languages, and in 1997 he provided expert testimony on this subject to the German Parliament. Dr. Truog is an active member of numerous committees and advisory boards, and has received several awards over the years, including The Christopher Grenvik Memorial Award from the Society of Critical Care Medicine for his contributions and leadership in the area of ethics.

Selected Recent Publications

  • Truog RD, Burns JP, Mitchell C, Johnson J, Robinson W. Pharmacologic paralysis and withdrawal of mechanical ventilation at the end of life. New England Journal of Medicine 2000; 342(7):508-511.
  • Burns JP, Mitchell C, Griffith JL, Truog RD. End-of-life care in the pediatric intensive care unit: attitudes and practices of pediatric critical care physicians and nurses. Critical Care Medicine 2001; 29(3):658-664.
  • Truog RD, Cist AF, Brackett SE, Burns JP, Curley MA, Danis M, DeVita MA, Rosenbaum SH, Rothenberg DM, Sprung CL, Webb SA, Wlody GS, Hurford WE. Recommendations for end-of-life care in the intensive care unit: The Ethics Committee of the Society of Critical Care Medicine. Critical Care Medicine 2001; 29(12):2332-2348.
  • Hardart MK, Burns JP, Truog RD. Respiratory support in spinal muscular atrophy type I: a survey of physician practices and attitudes. Pediatrics 2002; 110(2 Pt 1):e24.
  • Meyer EC, Burns JP, Griffith JL, Truog RD. Parental perspectives on end-of-life care in the pediatric intensive care unit. Critical Care Medicine 2002; 30(1):226-231.
  • Hardart GE, Truog RD. Attitudes and preferences of intensivists regarding the role of family interests in medical decision making for incompetent patients (Feature Article). Critical Care Medicine 2003; 31(7):1895-1900.
  • Hardart MK, Truog RD. Spinal muscular atrophy–type I: The challenge of defining a child’s best interests. Archives of Disease in Childhood 2003; 88(10):848-850.
  • Truog RD. The ethics of organ donation by living donors. New England Journal of Medicine 2005; 353(5):444-446.
  • Truog RD, Cochrane TI. Refusal of hydration and nutrition: Irrelevance of the “artificial” versus “natural” distinction. Archives of Internal Medicine 2005; 165:2574-2576.
  • Truog RD, Christ G, Browning DM, Meyer EC. Sudden traumatic death in children: “we did everything, but your child didn’t survive”. JAMA 2006; 295(22):2646-2654.
  • Truog RD, Meyer EC, Burns JP. Toward interventions to improve end-of-life care in the pediatric intensive care unit. Critical Care Medicine 2006; 34(11 Suppl):S373-S379.
  • Truog RD, Brock DW, Cook DJ, Danis M, Luce JM, Rubenfeld GD, Levy MM. Rationing in the intensive care unit. Critical Care Medicine 2006; 34(4):958-963.
  • Browning DM, Meyer EC, Truog RD, Solomon MZ. Difficult conversations in health care: cultivating relational learning to address the hidden curriculum. Acad Med 2007; 82(9):905-913.
  • Truog RD. Tackling medical futility in Texas. New England Journal of Medicine 2007; 357(1):1-3.
  • Truog RD. Brain death – too flawed to endure, too ingrained to abandon. Journal of Law, Medicine, and Ethics 2007; 35(2):273-281.