October 7, 2005

Kate Olderman
(215) 349-8369


Penn Expert Elected President of National Bioethics Organization
Bioethics authority to head field’s primary association

(Philadelphia, PA) - Paul Root Wolpe, PhD, Senior Fellow at the Center for Bioethics and a professor in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, has been elected the President of the American Society for Bioethics and Humanities (ASBH). The ASBH is the national professional organization for scholars in bioethics and the medical humanities.

ASBH has over 1,600 members, including physicians, nurses, social scientists, legal scholars, historians, philosophers, and others who study the ethical, social, legal, and historical issues in medical ethics and the medical humanities.

Wolpe will serve as President-elect for a year, and will officially assume the role of President in October, 2006.

“As it reflects the judgment of one's peers through election, it is an honor that I do not take lightly, and plan to work hard to advance the interests of the field academically and professionally,” says Wolpe.

He stressed three themes for his tenure. First, the ASBH is a society of diverse opinions and approaches and it should encourage those with minority or contrary opinions. Second, new members from diverse fields should be recruited to help ensure that ASBH remains a vital organization. Third, ASBH needs to support and mentor young members of the profession.

Wolpe also holds appointments in the Department of Medical Ethics and the Department of Sociology at the University of Pennsylvania. Additionally, he serves as the first Chief of Bioethics for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). The office is responsible for safeguarding the protection of research subjects and astronauts both within NASA and among our international space partners.

Wolpe did his undergraduate work in the sociology and psychology of religion at the University of Pennsylvania, and received his PhD in Medical Sociology from Yale University. He is the author of numerous articles and book chapters. His research examines the role of ideology and culture in medical thought, encompassing such diverse fields as genetics and reproduction; neuroethics and the integration of biotechnology into the human body; mental health and illness; human subjects’ research; religion and its role in bioethical debate, and death and dying. Wolpe is the author of the textbook, Sexuality and Gender in Society and the end-of-life guide, In the Winter of Life. He has been chosen by The Teaching Company as a "Superstar Teacher of America" and his courses are nationally distributed on audio and videotape.

“Paul brings an extraordinary array of talents and accomplishments to this position,” noted Arthur Caplan, PhD, Director of the Center for Bioethics at Penn, of Wolpe’s selection. “The enthusiasm, dedication, and rigor with which he carries out all aspects of his work will help ensure that his presidency is an innovative and effective one.”


PENN Medicine is a $2.7 billion enterprise dedicated to the related missions of medical education, biomedical research, and high-quality patient care. PENN Medicine consists of the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine (founded in 1765 as the nation's first medical school) and the University of Pennsylvania Health System.

Penn’s School of Medicine is ranked #2 in the nation for receipt of NIH research funds; and ranked #4 in the nation in U.S. News & World Report’s most recent ranking of top research-oriented medical schools. Supporting 1,400 fulltime faculty and 700 students, the School of Medicine is recognized worldwide for its superior education and training of the next generation of physician-scientists and leaders of academic medicine.

The University of Pennsylvania Health System includes: its flagship hospital, the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, consistently rated one of the nation’s “Honor Roll” hospitals by U.S. News & World Report; Pennsylvania Hospital, the nation's first hospital; Penn Presbyterian Medical Center; a faculty practice plan; a primary-care provider network; two multispecialty satellite facilities; and home health care and hospice.

This release is available online at http://www.uphs.upenn.edu/news/News_Releases/oct05/WolpeASBH.htm