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Christy Cummings, MD

Medicine Research
Newborn Medicine Research
Hospital Title:
Physician in Medicine
Academic Title:
Instructor in Pediatrics, Harvard Medical School
Research Focus Area:
Ethics and ProfessionalismHumanismMedical Education Research
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Research Overview

Dr. Christy L. Cummings’ research and scholarly activities focus broadly on medical ethics, professionalism and humanism, and their intersection with education in pediatrics and neonatology.  She is passionate about research that cultivates the moral, human aspect of medicine.  Dr. Cummings is currently interested in the acquisition of ethical principles and knowledge, including interpersonal competence and professionalism, via role-play and simulation during training in neonatology.  After conducting a national needs assessment on the state of ethics education for neonatal-perinatal fellows, she is in the process of developing a digitally innovative ethics and professionalism curriculum, as well as assessment tools, for this group of trainees by partnering with OPEN PediatricsTM and collaborators from across the country.  Prior research has involved the ethics of parental counseling surrounding emerging technologies in pediatric medicine, using intestinal transplant for neonates with severe short bowel syndrome as an example, as well as the ethics of social media use in children’s hospitals between staff and patients and/or their parents.  Recent work has appeared in Pediatrics, Hastings Center Report, J Perinatology, and Journal of Medical Ethics. 

About Christy L. Cummings, MD

A graduate of Colby College, Dr. Cummings received her medical degree from the University of Rochester, and training in pediatrics, neonatology and ethics at Yale.  She participated in Yale’s Interdisciplinary Center for Bioethics Program in Bioethics (2011) and completed the Fellowship Program in Medical Ethics through the Division of Medical Ethics at Harvard Medical School (2012-2013).  Dr. Cummings is currently an Instructor in Pediatrics at Harvard Medical School and an attending neonatologist in the Division of Newborn Medicine at Boston Children’s Hospital and St. Elizabeth’s Medical Center.  She is an Ethics Associate and permanent member of the Ethics Advisory Committee at Boston Children’s Hospital.  Dr. Cummings completed additional training in effective physician-patient communication via Harvard’s PERCS program (Program to Enhance Relational and Communication Skills) through HMS’ Institute for Professionalism and Ethical Practice (IPEP) and is now a PERCS Faculty Facilitator in the NICU at BCH.  She is also the Medical Director of the Compassionate Care Committee at St. Elizabeth’s Medical Center, while also serving on the hospital’s Ethics Committee there. 


Publications powered by Harvard Catalyst Profiles
  1. Cummings CL. Hope, Fantasy, and Communication in the ICU: Translating Frameworks into Clinical Practice. Am J Bioeth. 2018 Jan; 18(1):21-23.
  2. Blumenthal-Barby JS, Loftis L, Cummings CL, Meadow W, Lemmon M, Ubel PA, McCullough L, Rao E, Lantos JD. Should Neonatologists Give Opinions Withdrawing Life-sustaining Treatment? Pediatrics. 2016 Dec; 138(6).
  3. Cummings CL. On Being Fired: When Patients or Their Parents Fire Their Physician. Hastings Cent Rep. 2016 Sep; 46(5):3-4.
  4. Cummings CL. Teaching and assessing ethics in the newborn ICU. Semin Perinatol. 2016 Jun; 40(4):261-9.
  5. Langer T, Cummings CL, Meyer EC. When worlds intersect: practical and ethical challenges when caring for international patients in the NICU. J Perinatol. 2015 Dec; 35(12):982-4.
  6. Cummings CL, Geis GM, Kesselheim JC, Sayeed S. Ethics and professionalism education during neonatal-perinatal fellowship training in the United States. J Perinatol. 2015 Oct; 35(10):875-9.
  7. Cummings CL, Diefenbach KA, Mercurio MR. Counselling variation among physicians regarding intestinal transplant for short bowel syndrome. J Med Ethics. 2014 Oct; 40(10):665-70.
  8. Cummings CL. Patient and trainee: learning when to step in. Hastings Cent Rep. 2013 Jul-Aug; 43(4):5-6.
  9. Cummings CL. Communication in the era of COWs: technology and the physician-patient-parent relationship. Pediatrics. 2013 Mar; 131(3):401-3.
  10. Cummings CL, Mercurio MR. Ethics of emerging technologies and their transition to accepted practice: intestinal transplant for short bowel syndrome. J Perinatol. 2012 Oct; 32(10):752-6.
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  12. Cummings CL. Expectations. Hastings Cent Rep. 2012 Mar-Apr; 42(2):8-9.
  13. Gozzo YF, Cummings CL, Chapman RL, Bizzarro MJ, Mercurio MR. Who is performing medical procedures in the neonatal intensive care unit? J Perinatol. 2011 Mar; 31(3):206-11.
  14. Cummings CL, Mercurio MR. Ethics for the pediatrician: autonomy, beneficence, and rights. Pediatr Rev. 2010 Jun; 31(6):252-5.
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