School of Medicine announces new lectureship on bioethics and medical humanities

side by side headshots of dr. martin greenberg and dr. stephen williams
From left, Dr. Martin Greenberg and Dr. Stephen Williams

MACON/SAVANNAH/COLUMBUS — Mercer University School of Medicine has established a lectureship in honor of two outstanding former faculty in bioethics and medical humanities.

Named for Martin Greenberg, M.D., and Stephen Williams, M.D., the Greenberg-Williams Lectureship will feature leading figures in the bioethics and medical humanities nationally with a special emphasis on health care for rural and underserved populations. Topics will include not only bioethical issues but also the arts, literature and religion as they apply to an understanding of medicine, illness and human well-being.

The first lecture will take place on Oct. 23. The featured speaker and registration details will be announced this spring. Join the bioethics and medical humanities mailing list to get more information.

The lectureship is coordinated by MUSM’s Department of Bioethics and Medical Humanities, led by department chair Brian Childs, M.Div., Ph.D., HEC-C. Dr. Childs, who studied with medical ethics pioneer Paul Ramsey at Princeton University, has more than 35 years of experience in the field of medical ethics.

“Both Dr. Greenberg and Dr. Williams were mentors to me and were the inspirations for the creation of the Department of Bioethics and Medical Humanities at MUSM,” Dr. Childs said. “This lectureship will continue their influence in training and nurturing the virtues inherent in the humanistic practice of medicine.”

MUSM’s bioethics and medical humanities department was created in 2021 with the goal of training students and health care practitioners in the intricacies of medical and health-related ethics and professionalism, with particular focus on rural health care and medically underserved populations and communities. As academic disciplines, bioethics and medical humanities are focused on assisting health care professionals in viewing their medical practice from a moral perspective in addition to a scientific approach. 

“Medical humanities and bioethics must be a fundamental component of any medical education,” said MUSM Dean Jean Sumner, M.D., F.A.C.P. “Dr. Childs and his colleagues have established an outstanding department and are fortunate to have accomplished faculty in their group. Dr. Greenburg and Dr. Williams were founding members and were persistent in their hope to have this department educate young professionals.”

Support for the lectureship is made possible through a gift to the Dr. Martin Greenburg fund, established by Dr. Greenburg’s family after he passed away in 2021.

Dr. Martin Greenberg

Martin H. Greenberg, M.D., was a beloved pediatrician and educator who was known for his generosity of spirit, superior intellect, wide-ranging interests, compassionate nature, love of his family, and boundless good humor. He was larger than life and made the world a better place.

Born an only child to Jack and Ann Greenberg in 1938 in Brooklyn, New York, Dr. Greenberg was an inquisitive person. He excelled in school, skipping several grades, and was accepted to Manhattan’s exclusive Stuyvesant High School. Dr. Greenberg thrived at Stuyvesant, long citing it as one of the most influential parts of his life. He earned his Bachelor of Science degree from New York University and went on to complete his medical education at the Free University of Brussels Medical School.

Dr. Greenberg returned to the U.S. for his pediatric internship at Albany Medical Center, where he met his wife. He completed his pediatrics residency at Massachusetts General Hospital and a neonatology fellowship at Brigham and Women’s Hospital (then Boston Lying-in Hospital), becoming one of the first board-certified neonatologists in the country.

Following his training, Dr. Greenberg joined the U.S. Air Force and served as captain and first neonatologist at Travis Air Force Base. After his service, Dr. Greenberg served on the faculty of Albany Medical College. In 1973, he became involved in a project to open a pediatric clinic in Haiti. In addition to bringing medical care to the local population, Dr. Greenberg discovered his love of indigenous arts and crafts from the island.

In 1977, Dr. Greenberg relocated to Savannah to help develop a pediatric program at Memorial Hospital. He was determined to reverse racial and economic disparities in health, and he served as a role model for many who helped him achieve his vision. During his time at Memorial, he started the pediatric emergency room, the pediatric residency program, and recruited some of the best medical professionals to serve the area’s children. He worked to affiliate the Children’s Hospital at Memorial with the Children’s Miracle Network and worked tirelessly to bring much-needed programs, like the Ronald McDonald House, to the region.

In the midst of the AIDS crisis, he started Open Arms, a center for medically fragile babies who had life-threatening ailments at birth and no one to care for them. He was also a senior member of Mercer University School of Medicine’s faculty and a founder of the school’s ethics program. Dr. Greenberg influenced generations of doctors in treating patients and their families with dignity and respect.

Dr. Stephen Williams

Stephen Williams, M.D., began his medical journey when he decided to become a physician while in high school. He attended the College of Charleston, then matriculated to The Medical University of South Carolina. Upon graduation, he attended Children’s Hospital of Alabama for both his internship and residency. While at Children’s Hospital of Alabama, he studied with the eminent bioethicist Dr. Gregory Pence. He then entered private practice and after two years decided to enter pediatric critical care where he matriculated to the Medical College of Virginia. While there he became heavily involved in the development of extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) technology.

Upon graduating fellowship, Dr. Williams moved to Macon to assist with the establishment of a children’s hospital at The Medical Center of Central Georgia (now Atrium Health Navicent Beverly Knight Olson Children’s Hospital). After 11 years as a hospitalist, Dr. Williams retired from practice and joined the MUSM faculty, serving in several administrative and leadership roles, including associate director for ethics and professionalism and associate dean for academic affairs. While at MUSM, he was a highly regarded and problem-based learning tutor who had a marked influenced on his medical students. Dr. Williams retired in January 2024 after nearly 20 years with Mercer.