HGCB Panel Discussion

Holocaust Genocide and Contemporary Bioethics Program

​Promoting education, scholarship and community engagement on the lessons of the Holocaust for health care and society.​

“Health professionals played several critical roles in the Holocaust, perverting their ethics in ways that have cast a long and dark shadow. Understanding this tragic legacy is critical to every aspect of modern health care ethics, from medical aid in the death process to genetics, privacy, public health and others. By educating health science trainees on core lessons learned, we can ensure they will be prepared to stand up to some of the most difficult ethical issues confronting the world today.”  

Matthew Wynia  Matthew Wynia, MD, MPH
  Director, CU Center for Bioethics and Humanities



At the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus, we are seeking to address this critical issue. Our Holocaust Genocide and Contemporary Bioethics Program promotes education, scholarship and community engagement on the lessons of the Holocaust for health care and society. Our ultimate goal is to ensure that that health professionals always uphold their duty to protect patients, regardless of institutional or government policies which may conflict with their primary ethical obligation to do no harm.

Learning from the Past, Creating a Better Future

The history of the Holocaust has illuminated many lessons for health science professionals. Examples of these include:

  • Simplistic solutions to complex problems are alluring, but misleading and dangerous.
  • Concerns about costs of care are important, but must never be used to justify cruelty and unprofessional actions.
  • Health professionals have particular responsibility to speak out against efforts to dehumanize our patients.

At one of the country’s newest and fastest-growing academic medical campuses, we have an important role to play in keeping this history at the forefront for future health leaders. They must learn its ample lessons and understand how they are reflected in every aspect of health care ethical standards today. Therefore, our programming focuses on the following core issues for emerging health professionals:

  • The complex role of science in policy making.
  • Navigating professional obligations of patient advocacy and service to the community.
  • The essential role of humanism in preserving our sensitivity to human suffering.
  • Educating Future Generations of Health Professionals

Learn how you can support the Holocaust Genocide and Contemporary Bioethics Program at the CU Center for Bioethics and Humanities. Please visit our website, www.coloradobioethics.org. To make a gift to support the program, please go to www.giving.cu.edu/HGCB.

Contact: Michael.Tortoro@cuanschutz.edu | 303.724.7618

This program was founded by Dr. William S. Silvers, who is the son of Holocaust survivors.  He generously endowed the program in 2015 to promote learning and  to create a better future.  The program was further enhanced in 2022 with the creation of the Silvers Fellowship.   

The Witness to the Holocaust  Sculpture Series, 1988-91 by Devorah Sperber is part of the permanent collection at the CU Strauss Health Sciences Library.  The sculpture series traveled with the Anne Frank Exhibition for over 25 years before arriving at the University of Colorado in 2018 when the collection was donated by the Sperber family in memory of Henry Sperber, husband, father, and Holocaust survivor.

At this time there is no comparable program operating on this scale at a health sciences campus in the US and our rapid growth is a testament to our commitment and the support  of our local community.


2021 Program: Then and Now: Courage, Complicity and Compromise
2020 Program: Cancelled due to the pandemic
2019 Program: Medicine and Morality in Times of War​ 

2018 Program; Echoes of the Holocaust: Cultivating Compassion in 21st Century Healers​
2017 Program; Commemorating the 70th Anniversary of the Nuremberg Doctors' Trial
2016 Inaugural Program; featuring Art Caplan, PhD
2008 Inaugural Lecture; featuring Donald Seldin,MD


There are several ways to get involved:

Join our mailing list to stay up-to-date on HGCB programming.

Donate​ to the William S. Silvers, MD, Holocaust Genocide Contemporary Bioethics Program Fund
to support current programming and ensure the future of this program. For information about making a gift to the HGCB Program Fund, contact Michael Tortoro at Michael.Tortoro@cuanschutz.edu or (303) 724-7618 in the CU Office of Advancement.​​​​

Join our Advisory Group to help develop and promote future events - contact Meleah Himber​ at Meleah.Himber@cuanschutz.edu or (303) 724-8332 for more information.​

Become a Sponsor for our 2023 program.  For more information about becoming a 2023 sponsor, contact Meleah.Himber@cuanschutz.edu.