Dr. Joseph J. Fins Elected President of American Society for Bioethics and Humanities

Jan 4, 2010


Dr. Joseph J. Fins has been elected president of the American Society for Bioethics and Humanities (ASBH) in recognition of his major contributions to bioethics and broad expertise in the field. He will assume the presidency in 2011, when he will begin a two-year term. Dr. Fins is chief of the Division of Medical Ethics in the Departments of Public Health and Medicine and professor of medicine, professor of public health and professor of medicine in psychiatry at Weill Cornell Medical College. He is also director of medical ethics at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center and 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 a co-author of the 2007 Nature paper describing the first use of deep brain stimulation in the minimally conscious state.

"I am honored to have been elected, and I look forward to encouraging the contributions of my esteemed colleagues in bioethics and the medical humanities as we work together to improve patient care, enrich medical education and inform health policy," says Dr. Fins.

"A nationally recognized bioethicist who has helped untangle complex issues like minimally conscious state, Dr. Fins has done a superb job developing our medical ethics program," says Dr. Alvin Mushlin, chairman of the Department of Public Health at Weill Cornell Medical College and public health physician-in-chief at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center. "I am confident he will bring as much value to this national organization as he has to his home institution."

"This is a wonderfully fitting recognition of the national stature of Dr. Fins in the bioethics community," notes Dr. Andrew I. Schafer, chairman of the Department of Medicine and the E. Hugh Luckey Distinguished Professor of Medicine at Weill Cornell Medical College; and physician-in-chief at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center.

A recipient of a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Investigator Award in Health Policy Research, Dr. Fins has also received a Soros Open Society Institute Project on Death in America Faculty Scholars Award, a Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation Visiting Fellowship, and support from the Dana and Buster Foundations. He was appointed by President Clinton to The White House Commission on Complementary and Alternative Medicine Policy and currently serves on The New York State Task Force on Life and the Law by gubernatorial appointment.

Dr. Fins received his undergraduate degree from Wesleyan University and his medical degree from Cornell University Medical College, now known as Weill Cornell Medical College, in 1986. He completed his residency in internal medicine and fellowship in general internal medicine at NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell. He is a diplomate of the American Board of Internal Medicine.

He is the author of more than 200 publications in medical ethics and health policy, and his most recent book is "A Palliative Ethic of Care: Clinical Wisdom at Life's End" (Jones and Bartlett, 2006). Dr. Fins has lectured widely in the U.S., Europe and Latin America and delivered the 2006 American Osler Society John P. McGovern Annual Award Lecture. He has served as Associate for Medicine at The Hastings Center and was a visiting professor at The Complutense University in Madrid and Philipps University in Marburg, Germany.

Dr. Fins is a governor of the American College of Physicians and a member of the editorial boards of Neuroethics, Journal of Pain and Symptom Management, The Cambridge Quarterly of Healthcare Ethics, The Oncologist, and BioMed Central Medical Ethics. He is a trustee of the American College of Physicians Foundation and has served on the board of trustees of Wesleyan University, the Fund for Modern Courts, and the American Society for Bioethics and Humanities.

He has been a member of New York's Attorney General's Commission on Quality Care at the End of Life and is a fellow of the American College of Physicians, The New York Academy of Medicine, and The Hastings Center.

American Society for Bioethics and Humanities

The American Society for Bioethics and Humanities (ASBH) works to promote the exchange of ideas and foster multidisciplinary, interdisciplinary, and interprofessional scholarship, research, teaching, policy development, professional development, and collegiality among people engaged in all of the endeavors related to clinical and academic bioethics and the health-related humanities. The Society's activities include encouraging consideration of issues in human values as they relate to health services, the education of health care professionals and research; conducting educational meetings dealing with such issues; stimulating research in areas of such concern; and contributing to the public discussion of these endeavors and interests including how they relate to public policy.

NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center

NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center, located in New York City, is one of the leading academic medical centers in the world, comprising the teaching hospital NewYork-Presbyterian and Weill Cornell Medical College, the medical school of Cornell University. NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell provides state-of-the-art inpatient, ambulatory and preventive care in all areas of medicine, and is committed to excellence in patient care, education, research and community service. Weill Cornell physician-scientists have been responsible for many medical advances — including the development of the Pap test for cervical cancer; the synthesis of penicillin; the first successful embryo-biopsy pregnancy and birth in the U.S.; the first clinical trial for gene therapy for Parkinson's disease; the first indication of bone marrow's critical role in tumor growth; and, most recently, the world's first successful use of deep brain stimulation to treat a minimally conscious brain-injured patient. NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital also comprises NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia University Medical Center, NewYork-Presbyterian Morgan Stanley Children's Hospital, NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Westchester Division and NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/The Allen Hospital. NewYork-Presbyterian is the #1 hospital in the New York metropolitan area and is consistently ranked among the best academic medical institutions in the nation, according to U.S.News & World Report. Weill Cornell Medical College is the first U.S. medical college to offer a medical degree overseas and maintains a strong global presence in Austria, Brazil, Haiti, Tanzania, Turkey and Qatar. For more information, visit Weill Cornell Medical College.

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