University of Chicago's Sulmasy wins prestigious bioethics award

December 13, 2013

Daniel P. Sulmasy, MD, PhD, the Kilbride-Clinton Professor of Medicine and Ethics in the Department of Medicine and Divinity School at the University of Chicago, has won the 2014 Paul Ramsey Award for Excellence in Bioethics.

The honor, given annually by the Center for Bioethics and Culture, recognizes those who have made outstanding contributions to the field of bioethics scholarship and who defend the dignity of humankind and embrace ethical biotechnology for the human good in the face of 21st century challenges. The award is named after Paul Ramsey, a longtime professor of religion at Princeton University and one of the most important figures in medical bioethics of the 20th century. He died in 1988.

"I'm honored to be given an award named for Paul Ramsey, one of the founding figures in the field of bioethics, whose thoughts on many of the issues we face today are still insightful and salient," said Sulmasy, who is also associate director of the MacLean Center for Clinical Medical Ethics.

An ethicist and practicing physician, Sulmasy studies end-of-life decision-making, ethics education and spirituality in medicine. In addition to serving on the editorial boards of several academic journals, he is the editor-in-chief of the journal, Theoretical Medicine and Bioethics. He previously served as chair of the Ethics Committee of the Society of General Internal Medicine and on the Board of Directors for the American Society for Bioethics and Humanities.

He is the author or editor of six books: The Healer's Calling (1997), Methods in Medical Ethics (2001; 2nd ed. 2010), The Rebirth of the Clinic (2006), and A Balm for Gilead (2006). Forthcoming in 2014 are: Safe Passage: A Global Spiritual Sourcebook for Care at the End of Life, and Francis the Leper: Faith, Medicine, Theology, and Science.

"Dr. Daniel Sulmasy demonstrates the spirit of the Paul Ramsey Award, with his exemplary achievements and contributions in the field of bioethics," said Jennifer Lahl, RN, MA, president of the Center for Bioethics and Culture. "We are pleased with his selection."

Past winners of the Ramsey Award include Leon R. Kass, the Addie Clark Harding Professor Emeritus of Social Thought at the University of Chicago, who was a recipient in 2010.

Common among many past winners of the award has been serving on presidential commissions on bioethics. Sulmasy is currently a member of President Barack Obama's Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues. Kass was chairman of President George W. Bush's President's Council on Bioethics from 2001 to 2005.

Gilbert Meilaender, PhD, an award winner in 2009 and who studied under Ramsey, lauded Sulmasy.

"Daniel Sulmasy is a physician, philosopher and theologian," said Meilaender, professor of theology at Valparaiso University, a former member of Bush's bioethics council and a member of the award's nominating committee. "But these are not so much separate roles he occupies as they are aspects that interpenetrate and enrich his thinking and his writing. It is our good fortune to profit from his unusual mix of training and expertise."

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