About Bioethics and Film

Vision of the Program in Bioethics and Film

Founded in 1998 by award-winning filmmaker and physician, Maren Monsen, the Program in Bioethics and Film creates films and education programs that touch people emotionally and intellectually to cause them to think deeply about important issues in healthcare and improve care. Monsen has developed a singular style of interweaving documentary footage with haunting imagery and sound to create visually, intellectually and emotionally stirring documentaries that cross traditional boundaries to engage a wide audience — from medical students and healthcare providers to the general public.  

Maren Monsen

Maren Monsen, is physician, filmmaker and clinical ethicist.  She directs the Program in Bioethics and Film at the Stanford Center for Biomedical Ethics in the medical school where she has produced multiple nationally and internationally broadcast documentary films. 

She Co-Directed Emmy-nominated The Revolutionary Optimists, about kids in Kolkata India making grassroots change to improve global health in the slums and brickfields where they live.  It broadcast on national public television as part of the Independent Lens series, won the Hilton Sustainability award at the Sundance Film festival in 2013 went on to a theatrical release with policy screenings at UNICEF and USAID.  The film broadcast internationally in 6 languages.  Shorts from the film screened at the Skoll World Forum at Oxford as well as three TEDx events run by Melinda Gates.   The Revolutionary Optimists, inspired them to work with the kids profiled in the film to develop Map Your World, a mobile-to-online data and storytelling platform to enable youth to make change in the public health of their communities.  www.mapyourworld.org

Monsen’s previous films include Rare, the story of one extraordinary mother's race against time to find a cure for her daughter's rare genetic disease. Rare won best feature documentary at the Brooklyn Girls Film festival, screened at the Cannes Film Festival Market and was selected to screen at Science Festivals around the US as well as broadcasting on national public television.  Monsen’s past directing work includes Worlds Apart and Hold Your Breath, a large-scale project on cross-cultural conflicts in medicine, which was broadcast on national public television and is currently being used in 63% of US medical schools. As well as the Vanishing Line, a chronicle of her journey toward understanding the art and issues of dying, which was broadcast on the national PBS "Point of View" and was awarded Program of the Year from the National Hospice Organization.  

Her medical work includes her role as Clinical Ethics Consultant at Stanford University Hospital and Co-Director of the Bioethics and Medical Humanities Scholarly Concentration Program in the Medical School.

She received her Bachelors in Art History at Stanford University, studied film at the London International Film School, received her medical doctorate from the University of Washington and returned to Stanford to do her residency training in Emergency Medicine and a fellowship in Palliative Care. 


Maren Monsen, MD
Director, Program in Bioethics and Film

Program in Bioethics and Film
Stanford Center for Biomedical Ethics
Stanford University School of Medicine
1215 Welch Road, Modular A, #74
Stanford, CA 94305
phone: 650-498-5386
fax: 650-725-6131