Penn’s interdisciplinary Master of Bioethics (MBE) program is one of the nation's premier programs for bioethics education, attracting exceptional students from both the U.S. and abroad—and it is one of the longest-running such programs, now celebrating its 20th anniversary year. What better way to explore and celebrate the program’s remarkable impact than by getting to know a sampling of its diverse graduates?
These 20 individuals exemplify what the MBE and a bioethics-focused approach can bring to a variety of disciplines. The program’s alumni include professionals in clinical medicine, including doctors and nurses focused on issues of fertility and the start of life (2, 10), care at the end of life (5, 7, 16), and at every point in between (1, 11, 12). “I believe that applying bioethics in any field is a life-long process that evolves with one’s career,” said Kholoud Alnakshabandi, MD, MBE’14, a psychiatrist in Saudi Arabia.
There are also academics and lawyers (3, 6, 17), clergy (8, 19), recognized groundbreakers and silence-breakers in medical communication (4, 20), leaders in the pharmaceutical industry (9, 18), and even a bestselling novelist (13) whose books for young adults center on coming of age while facing medical issues. Emily Kramer-Golinkoff, MBE’13, an advanced-stage cystic fibrosis patient, founded a nonprofit organization funding research on her disease. “I do credit the MBE program with giving me my voice as a patient advocate and fundraiser,” she said, “empowering me to see that my story has value and can help bring about change in science, medicine, and the world.”
1. Anthony J. Mazzarelli, MD, JD’02, MBE’02
Co-President, Cooper University Health Care; Associate Dean of Academic Affairs, Cooper Medical School of Rowan University
Mazzarelli oversees all clinical operations, quality, patient safety, continuous process improvement, patient care services, and facilities for the entire Cooper health system including all inpatient and ambulatory operations, as well as the employed faculty physician practice for the medical school. He continues to see patients in the emergency department as well as lecture medical students and residents about health care policy and bioethics.
2. Pasquale Patrizio, MD, MBE’03
Professor of Obstetrics, Gynecology, and Reproductive Sciences; Director, Yale Fertility Center and Fertility Preservation Program; Teacher, Yale Center of Bioethics and Medical Ethics
Patrizio specializes clinically on treatment of both female and male infertility. His research interests include fertility preservation for cancer and other medical or non-medical conditions, oocyte (egg) freezing, methods to assess egg and embryo competence, and a variety of ethical issues in assisted reproduction.
3. David Sontag, JD, MBE’03
First Deputy General Counsel and Co-Chair, Ethics Advisory Committee, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC); Lecturer on Medicine and Center for Bioethics Faculty, Harvard Medical School
Sontag’s professional life is half in law and half in bioethics (and all the spaces in between). His current legal practice focuses on legal and compliance issues related to corporate and clinical affiliations with the medical center, as well as guardianships and other patient care matters. In the bioethics sphere, Sontag serves as co-chair of the BIDMC Ethics Advisory Committee and is involved in BIDMC’s Ethics Liaison program; he is often consulted and asked to speak about legal and ethical issues that arise in the clinical setting. He currently teaches the capstone seminar for Harvard Medical School’s Master of Bioethics Program.
4. Wendy Sue Swanson, MD’03, MBE’03
Chief of Digital Innovation, Seattle Children’s Hospital
Pediatrician Swanson is the author of the Seattle Mama Doc Blog at Seattle Children’s Hospital. She is working to transform health communications by using social and digital media to bridge the gap between parents and doctors. As the first physician blogger for a U.S. hospital, she has led the way for novel use of social media in health care.
5. Salimah Meghani, MSN’01, PhD’05, MBE’05
Associate Professor of Nursing and Term Chair of Palliative Care, University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing
Meghani’s main research focuses on health disparities among vulnerable populations in palliative care. She currently leads an American Cancer Society-funded project to elicit ideas from patients and family members to improve cancer pain management and to decrease disparities. Meghani has served on state and national committees to improve care for persons with advanced serious illness, including an Institute of Medicine committee on end-of-life care.
6. Jason Schwartz, PhD’12, MBE’06
Assistant Professor of Health Policy and the History of Medicine, Yale University
Schwartz’s research and teaching examine how evidence is interpreted, evaluated, and translated into regulation and policy in medicine and public health. His particular areas of focus include vaccines and vaccination programs, the structure and function of scientific expert advice to government, and the activities of U.S. federal health agencies.
7. Erin Talati Paquette, JD, MD, MBE’07
Assistant Professor of Pediatrics and Critical Care, Feinberg School of Medicine at Northwestern University; Associate Chair Ethics Advisory Board, Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital of Chicago
Paquette's scholarly work focuses on research ethics, including informed consent, evaluating for disparities in research enrollment and research oversight, ethics in critical care, including communication in the ICU, brain death, and organ donation, and conflict resolution. She teaches in ethics courses at Northwestern’s medical and law schools, performs ethics consultations, and attends in the Pediatric ICU.
8. Mark Swope, MDiv, PhD, MBE’07
Director, Medical Ethics for Carilion Clinic & Assistant Professor at Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine
An ordained Roman Catholic priest, Swope has supported parishes administratively and liturgically. Under Swope’s direction, the Virginia Tech Department of Medical Ethics supports education, policies and training programs for medical ethics committees and consultants, and hospital staff to assist clinicians in responding to ethical issues that arise in the care of patients. Swope is an advocate of holistic medicine who believes in supporting people physically, mentally, socially and spiritually.
9. Sheldon Sloan, MD, MBE’08
Immunology Global Medical Affairs Leader for Inflammatory Bowel Disease at Janssen
Sloan’s medical affairs leadership includes identifying and championing clinical studies as well as publication planning for his portfolio area at Janssen pharmaceuticals, and syndicating regional needs into a unifying strategy. Within the company he is a founding member and former chair of the Johnson & Johnson Bioethics Committee. He also serves on external advisory boards and task forces for educational and nonprofit organizations that draw on his bioethics expertise.
10. Kavita Shah Arora, MD, MBE’09
Assistant Professor of Reproductive Biology and Bioethics, Case Western Reserve; Director of Quality, MetroHealth Medical Center
Arora is a practicing obstetrician/gynecologist whose research interests include reproductive ethics, disparities surrounding postpartum contraception and sterilization, and patient-centered quality of care. She is passionate about translating data to evidence-based, patient-centered health policy. She currently serves on the governing council for the Young Physicians Section of the American Medical Association, the ethics committee for the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, and the board of directors of the American Society for Bioethics and the Humanities.
11. Mary K. Walton, BSN’74, MSN’81, MBE’10, RN, FAAN
Director, Patient and Family Centered Care, Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania
Walton leads system-wide efforts to improve the patient experience in the acute care hospital setting. As a nurse ethicist at HUP, she chairs the hospital ethics committee and leads the clinical consult service working with front line clinicians to address the value-laden concerns that arise in care.
12. Renatha Joseph, MD, MMED, MBE’12
Lecturer and Head of the Bioethics and Health Professionalism Department, Muhimbili University of Health and Allied Sciences (MUHAS)
A pediatrician, Joseph was among the five MBE fellows from MUHAS who received bioethics training to build the university’s capacity in bioethics teaching. She teaches bioethics, professionalism and pediatrics and child health to both undergraduates and post graduate students. Her research interest is informed consent in pediatric care, especially adolescents with chronic diseases. In 2017, she was appointed as a member of the National Bioethics Commission of Tanzania, in the process of establishment.
13. Robyn Schneider, MBE’12
Novelist and Screenwriter
Schneider is the bestselling author of three young-adult novels. Her stories center on modern teen characters coming of age while facing medical issues such as an infectious disease outbreak, supernatural illness, and physical disability. A film adaptation of her novel The Beginning of Everything is in the works based on her screenplay. “In fiction and in medical ethics, every story starts with a question and a person who must make a choice,” Schneider said. “I know what I would do at a tuberculosis sanatorium in the last days before they announce a cure, but what about a seventeen-year-old who has fallen in love for the first time? To find the answer, I write the novel.”
14. Emily Kramer-Golinkoff, BA’07, MBE’13
Co-Founder, Emily’s Entourage
Kramer-Golinkoff is the co-founder of a nonprofit organization that has awarded over $2.7 million since 2011 in high-impact research grants for cystic fibrosis. She is an internationally recognized patient advocate and speaker who has advanced-stage cystic fibrosis herself and has been honored as a White House Precision Medicine “Champion of Change.” “I do credit the MBE program with giving me my voice as a patient advocate and fundraiser,” she said, “empowering me to see that my story has value and can help bring about change in science, medicine, and the world.”
15. Kholoud Alnakshabandi, MD, MBE’14
Demonstrator, Psychiatry Department, King Saud University
Alnakshabandi began her psychiatry residency ten months after earning her MBE degree at Penn. The bioethics lens helps her raise important questions to the evolving field of psychiatry in Saudi Arabia. “Areas such as mental health patients’ capacity to make decisions, issues of admitting against their will,” and more, are among the key issues, she said. “I believe that applying bioethics in any field is a life-long process that evolves with one’s career.”
16. Joshua B. Kayser, MD, MPH, MBE’14
Associate Professor of Clinical Medicine and Medical Ethics, Perelman School of Medicine; Director, Medical Intensive Care Unit & Section Chief, Medical Critical Care, Cpl. Michael J. Crescenz VA Medical Center
Kayser specializes in Pulmonary & Critical Care Medicine and Hospice & Palliative Medicine. His academic focus is at the intersection of medical ethics, communication & professionalism and end-of-life care in the ICU. He is the Course Director of two medical school courses at Penn: Doctoring IB – Patient- and Family-Centered Care and Communication (MS1), and Frontiers in Bioethics and Professionalism (MS4).
17. Mehrin ("Mir") Masud-Elias, JD, MBE’15
Executive Director of Legal Affairs & Immunotherapy Collaborations, Abramson Cancer Center (ACC)
Masud-Elias coordinates institutional management and oversight of immunotherapy initiatives, collaborative grants, contracts, and agreements in close collaboration with the Penn Center for Innovation and the Office of General Counsel. She also directs the ACC’s Office of Legal Affairs, providing practical and strategic legal advice.
18. Margaret Landi, VMD’79, MBE’16
Chief Veterinarian and VP of the Office of Animal Welfare, Ethics and Strategy at GlaxoSmithKline
Landi formally entered the field of bioethics after a more operational role in the pharmaceutical industry. “I see my position to frame and encourage debate on the moral status of research animals,” she said. She is active in presentations, lectures and in leadership roles within the veterinary and animal research community.
19. Maj. Jason Unsworth, MDiv, MBE’16
Bioethics Instructor - U.S. Army Medical Department Center and School at Fort Sam Houston, Texas
Unsworth teaches bioethics for the Army-Baylor Masters in Health and Business Administration. “The Penn MBE gave me a solid foundation in the problems and methods of bioethics,” he said. “I use what I learned at Penn every day in my teaching.”
20. Michael S. Weinstein, MD, MBE’16
Associate Professor of Surgery, Sidney Kimmel Medical College at Thomas Jefferson University Co-Chair of Hospital Ethics Committee, Thomas Jefferson University Hospital
Weinstein is an acute care/trauma surgeon who recently published his personal narrative of personal struggles and recovery from physician burnout and serious mental illness in the New England Journal of Medicine. His interests include healthcare provider wellness, ethics and professionalism, and global surgery.
Honors & Awards
Jill M. Baren, MD, MBE’06
Professor, Emergency Medicine, Pediatrics, and Medical Ethics
American Council on Education (ACE) Fellow
The ACE Fellows Program identifies and prepares faculty and staff members for senior positions in college and university administration through a cohort-based mentorship model.
Jeffrey S. Berns, MD
Professor and Associate Chief, Renal-Electrolyte and Hypertension
Donald W. Seldin Distinguished Award from the National Kidney Foundation
Berns was awarded for excellence in clinical nephrology.
Charles L. Bosk, PhD
Professor, Anesthesiology and Critical Care (PSOM), and Sociology (School of Arts and Sciences)
Bosk studies the social and cultural dimensions of health care; he will use his Guggenheim to work on his forthcoming book, Mistakes Were Changed: An Ethnographic History of Medical Failure.
Shinjae Chung, PhD and Iain Mathieson, PhD
Chung: Assistant Professor of Neuroscience
Mathieson: Assistant Professor of Genetics
The highly competitive award, granted to 126 recipients this year, recognizes early-career scholars who are extraordinary scientific researchers with significant potential.
Edna B. Foa, PhD
Professor, Clinical Psychology in Psychiatry; Director, Center for the Treatment and Study of Anxiety
Carol Johnson Humanitarian Award
Presented by Women Organized Against Rape (WOAR), Philadelphia’s rape crisis center, the award recognizes “outstanding commitment to making [the] community safer for victims of sexual assault.”
James C. Gee, PhD
Associate Professor, Radiologic Science; Director, Penn Image Computing and Science Laboratory
American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering (AIMBE) College of Fellows
Gee was elected for outstanding contributions to advanced medical image registration and analysis methods. Election to the AIMBE College of Fellows is among the highest professional distinctions accorded to a medical and biological engineer.
David S. Goldberg, MD, MSCE’11, Michael L. Kochman, MD, and James D. Lewis, MD’91, MSCE’98
American Gastroenterological Association (AGA) Awards
Goldberg: Assistant Professor of Medicine and Epidemiology
Goldberg received the AGA’s Young Investigator Award in Clinical Science for his work on liver disease epidemiology and outcomes in liver transplantation.
Kochman: Wilmott Family Professor of Medicine
Kochman was awarded AGA’s Distinguished Clinician Award, Clinical Academic Practice for his clinical, technical, and interpersonal skills as an interventional endoscopist.
Lewis: Professor of Medicine and Epidemiology
Lewis received the AGA’s Distinguished Educator Award for local and national contributions over a lifelong career.
Joseph A. DiRienzi
Pathologists' Assistant and Lead Medical Pathology Coordinator, Pathology and Laboratory Medicine
National Disease Research Interchange 2018 Service to Science - Outstanding Tissue Procurement Partner Award
DiRienzi was cited for his “unparalleled blend of compassion and excellence” in biospecimen procurement by the nonprofit organization that is the nation's leading source of human tissues, cells, and organs for scientific research.
Ezekiel J. Emanuel, MD, PhD
Vice Provost of Global Initiatives; Chair, Medical Ethics and Health Policy
2018 Dan David Prize
The award recognizes and encourages innovative and interdisciplinary research and achievements having an outstanding scientific, technological, cultural or social impact on our world.
Raina Merchant, MD, MSHP’09
Associate Professor, Emergency Medicine; Director, Center for Digital Health; Associate Vice President, University of Pennsylvania Health System
Editorial Board Member, JAMA
For a 3-year term that began in January 2018, Merchant serves as an advisor to the editor in chief and contributes to the editorial content of the most widely circulated and one of the most prestigious peer-reviewed medical journals in the world.
Jamie Shuda, EdD
Director of Life Science Outreach, Institute for Regenerative Medicine
Genetics Society of America 2018 Elizabeth W. Jones Award for Excellence in Education
Shuda was recognized for outstanding contributions to science education, including BioEYES, a K-12 science education program that provides classroom-based, hands-on lessons in basic scientific methods, biology, and genetics using live zebrafish.