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Two Leading Bioethicists Named 2017 Beecher Award Recipients

Albert Jonsen and Edward Frank Shotter have been named the recipients of The Hastings Center’s 2017 Henry Knowles Beecher Award for lifetime achievement in bioethics.

Albert Jonsen, PhD, is emeritus professor of ethics in medicine at the University of Washington School of Medicine, where he was chairman of the department of medical history and ethics from 1987 to 1999. He is now a senior bioethics scholar-in-residence emeritus at California Pacific Medical Center in San Francisco. From 1972 to 1987, he was chief of the division of medical ethics in the School of Medicine at the University of California, San Francisco. Prior to that, he was president of the University of San Francisco, where he taught in the departments of philosophy and theology.

Dr. Jonsen is the author or co-author of 11 books, including Bioethics Beyond the Headlines: Who Lives? Who Dies? Who Decides? (2005), A Short History of Medical Ethics (1999), and The Birth of Bioethics (1998). He has written chapters in more than 70 books on medicine and health care.

Dr. Jonsen has received many honors, including the 2009 Harvey Meyerhoff Leadership Award from the Berman Institute of Bioethics at Johns Hopkins University “for lifelong commitment and contribution to the field of bioethics.” He also received a Lifetime Achievement Award for Contribution to Research Ethics from PRIM*R, Professional Responsibility in Medicine and Research. He is an elected member of the Health and Medicine Division of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine.

Edward Frank Shotter, an Anglican priest and former Dean of Rochester Cathedral, was instrumental in establishing the field of bioethics and ensuring its integration into medical education. Recognizing the importance of issues that had little if any standing in medical training, in the mid-1960’s he created a pioneering model whereby medical students could organize educational sessions on topics that troubled or intrigued them. Those topics included medical paternalism, organ transplantation, child abuse, and brain death. Many leading figures in bioethics today got their start because of this model of medical education.

In 1972 Dean Shotter founded the Society for the Study of Medical Ethics, later renamed the Institute of Medical Ethics. He remains its senior vice president. In 1975, he founded the Journal of Medical Ethics, a leading bioethics journal.

The Hastings Center’s Henry Knowles Beecher Award recognizes individuals who have made a lifetime contribution to ethics and the life sciences and whose careers have been devoted to excellence in scholarship, research, and ethical inquiry. The award was named for the first recipient, a distinguished surgeon and anesthesiologist who, in the 1960’s, courageously exposed unethical practices in human subjects research in the United States. His investigations led to the development of federal research ethics standards and helped establish the field of bioethics.