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A Department of Medical Ethics: Arthur Caplan

Dr. Arthur Rubenstein, EVP of UPHS and Dean of the School of Medicine, has announced the creation of a Department of Medical Ethics, which will provide the academic home for the world-renowned Center for Bioethics. Dr. Arthur Caplan, the Emanuel and Robert Hart Professor of Bioethics, will serve as the newly-created department's first Chairman.

The Department of Medical Ethics--the first to be dedicated to medical ethics at an academic medical center--was created to provide an academic home base for Penn faculty conducting research on ethical issues in medicine and the life sciences. The new department--with 14 full- and part-time faculty members--is one of the largest programs of its kind in the world. It will build on and complement the work of the many Center faculty who are drawn from a variety of academic and clinical disciplines. The Department of Medical Ethics positions Penn Bioethics as the undisputed leader in bioethics research and its use in the practice of medicine and life sciences.

Since its establishment in 1994 as an interdisciplinary unit of Penn's School of Medicine, the Center for Bioethics has grown--under Dr. Caplan's leadership--into a world-renowned educational force, advancing scholarly and public understanding of ethical, legal, social and public policy issues in medicine and the life sciences.

"The Center is Penn's voice of bioethics to the world," explains Dr. Caplan. "It is also the way the School of Medicine is able to interact on an educational front with other schools, programs and university units--outside the world of medicine--who are interested in bioethics, as well as with the community and the general public. The focus of the Center has not changed. However, with the increasing number of bioethics faculty teaching in the School of Medicine, the rapid growth of the Masters of Bioethics Program, the undertaking of an undergraduate program and the future prospect of a Ph.D. program in Bioethics, it became critical to have a department home for bioethics at the School of Medicine."

Dr. Caplan's goals for the new department are ambitious: " ... to use the department to better integrate bioethics into the Health System and the School of Medicine, to improve our teaching of residents ... to continue to expand our undergraduate teaching and opportunities for internships and to attract philanthropic support in response to the University's commitment to this new department."

  Almanac, Vol. 49, No. 7, October 8, 2002