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Dr. Joseph J. Fins Leads the American Society for Bioethics and Humanities

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Dr. Joseph J. Fins

Dr. Joseph J. Fins has been installed as president of the American Society for Bioethics and Humanities (ASBH), a position he was elected to in recognition of his major contributions to bioethics and broad expertise in the field. He will serve a two-year term.

Dr. Fins is the E. William Davis Jr., M.D. Professor of Medical Ethics; chief of the Division of Medical Ethics; and professor of medicine, professor of public health and professor of medicine in psychiatry at Weill Cornell Medical College.

He also is director of medical ethics at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center, and he chairs its ethics committee.

Dr. Fins is an authority on ethical and policy issues in brain injury and disorders of consciousness, palliative care, research ethics in neurology and psychiatry, medical education and methods of ethics case consultation. He is co-author of the 2007 Nature paper describing the first use of deep brain stimulation in the minimally conscious state.

In his first speech as ASBH president at the Society's annual meeting in Minneapolis he reminded his audience that bioethics "has enlightened the clinical encounter, brought rights to patients during the entire life cycle, advanced science, and protected subjects in clinical trials, all the while questioning hierarchies and pulling the veil off of inequities and disparities."

He spoke of his desire for the Society to help sustain the balance of the art and science of medicine in two key ways: by reveling in "interdisciplinarity" and acknowledging the centrality of the humanities to bioethicists' work and also by further professionalizing the consultative work they engage in within the clinical setting.

"We will work together to improve patient care, enrich medical education, and inform health policy," Dr. Fins says.

A graduate of Wesleyan University and Weill Cornell Medical College, Dr. Fins is the author of more than 200 publications in medical ethics and health policy. His most recent book is "A Palliative Ethic of Care: Clinical Wisdom at Life's End" (Jones and Bartlett, 2006), and he is currently completing a book on neuroethics and disorders of consciousness to be published by Cambridge University Press. Dr. Fins is an elected Member of the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies of Science.

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