Dr. Purtilo is Professor Emerita of the Department of Physical Therapy and Interdisciplinary Studies,  and former Chair of the Graduate Program in Physical Therapy at MGH Institute of Health Professions in Boston, MA. She is also a Senior Research Fellow at the Institute for Patient Care, Yvonne L. Munn Center for Nursing Research, Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston. 

She is a former director for the Creighton University Center for Health Policy and Ethics; and is a past president of the American Society of Law, Medicine & Ethics and the American Society for Bioethics and Humanities.

Dr. Purtilo has authored 11 books and over 90 articles and book chapters on ethical and social issues including topics such as Alzheimer’s disease, AIDS, confidentiality, and compassion.

She is a 2006 recipient of the Alpha Sigma Nu National Jesuit Honor Society Book Award in the Health Sciences, and a 2005 recipient of the Partners HealthCare Outstanding Service Award for Interdisciplinary Initiatives.

Dr. Purtilo was named the APTA's 2000 Mary McMillan lecturer. The Mary McMillan Lecture Award acknowledges and honors an APTA member who has made a distinguished contribution to the profession. In 1999 she was elected a Catherine Worthingham Fellow of the American Physical Therapy Association (FAPTA), the highest honor among the association's membership categories.

  • BS, Summa cum laude, Physical Therapy, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN
  • MTS, Harvard University Divinity School, Cambridge, MA
  • PhD, Religious Studies, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA

See CV for research and scholarship