Jeffrey Spike


Jeffrey Spike, PhD


Jeffrey Spike, PhD, is the Ethics Scholar-in-Residence at Children’s National Hospital in Washington D.C. and Clinical Professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at George Washington University School of Medicine.

His graduate work in philosophy was done at the University of Chicago (where he worked with Stephen Toulmin, Paul Ricoeur, and Alan Donegan) and the Johns Hopkins University. A metaphysician by training, he has been interested in the nature of the mind, thought, and decision-making capacity.


Jeffrey Philip Spike, Ph.D. has worked full-time in undergraduate and graduate medical education (UGME and GME) since receiving his Ph.D. in philosophy from the Johns Hopkins University in 1987.

One of Dr. Spike’s primary interests in clinical ethics is the ethical importance of assessing capacity, a topic central to issues in both geriatric ethics and pediatric ethics.  He organized annual work-shops for four consecutive years teaching ethics committee members from around the country how to start and run a hospital ethics consultation service for the American Society for Bioethics and the Humanities (ASBH).

Before coming to the DC area, Dr. Spike was the Director of the Campus-Wide Ethics Program at UT-Houston, a QEP initiative to enhance the ethics education at all six schools of the UTH Health Science Center, including their joint graduate program with M. D. Anderson.  He introduced an emphasis on inter-professional education.  The intent was to make clinicians (physicians, dentists, and nurses) more familiar with Public Health Ethics and Research Ethics, including bioinformatics and social and systemic issues, and vice versa—to use ethics to get beyond the unfortunate consequences of academic silos.  He won the statewide award for the UT system for innovation in medical education in 2012.

Dr. Spike began his career at the University of Rochester SOM, where he was the Course Director for the Medical Humanities Seminars, a required course offering a selection of 24 seminars on topics ranging from literature and creative writing to history and public policy.  Dr. Spike developed one of the first concentrations in Medical Humanities for medical students while at Rochester in 2003 and worked in the Responsible Conduct of Research course from its beginning in 1995.

Dr. Spike was also Associate Professor in the Department of Medical Humanities and Social Sciences at the Florida State University College of Medicine from 2003-2009.  At FSU he coordinated the integration of ethics into all four years of the curriculum, including a sequence on narrative medicine in the clinical clerkships.  Another educational innovation was an option for students to make a home visit to an elder and create a videotape documentary.

Recent publications

Spike, JP. “Two Ethical Foundations for Pediatrics: The United Nations’ Convention on the Rights of the Child and Bioethical Principles.”  Forthcoming chapter in Pediatric Ethics: Theory and Practice. Nico Nortje and Johan Bester, editors.

Spike, JP. “Is there a right and left when the question is about right and wrong? The irreducible differences between ethics and politics, religion, and morals.” Ethics, Medicine, and Public Health, 14, July-Sept. 2020. [French title: Il y a-t-il une droite et une gauche quand il est question de bien et de mal?]

Spike JP. “Principles for public health ethics.” Ethics, Medicine and Public Health (2018), 4, pp. 13-20, [French Title: Principes pour une éthique en santé publique]

Spike, JP, “Informed Consent as the Essence of Capacity Assessment,” J Law Med Ethics, 45 (2017): 95-105. DOI: 10.1177/1073110517703103 (Special issue on reconceptualizing informed consent by the American Bar Association Committee on Bioethics and the Law)