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CLBB Director of Law & Ethics to lead HMS Master’s Program in Bioethics

As of fall 2014, CLBB Director of Law & Ethics Rebecca W. Brendel, JD, MD, will join the Harvard Medical School Center for Bioethics to lead the development of a new Master’s Program in Bioethics. Originally established as the Division of Medical Ethics, The Center was rebranded in spring 2014 to serve as a convener for faculty who will collaborate with the ethics services at the HMS affiliates and with ethics programs at schools throughout Harvard University. Dr. Brendel will develop and then lead the new Master’s Program in Bioethics at HMS.

The Master of Bioethics Degree, beginning fall 2015, will combine resources from the Center for Bioethics, Harvard teaching hospitals, and departments across the University in a one-year full time course of study and is open to working professionals holding a terminal degree in any discipline. A core group of applicants is expected from medicine, law, nursing, public health, social work, public policy, scientific and biotechnology research, journalism, and business.

Rebecca W. Brendel

Dr. Brendel is Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and Director of Law & Ethics at CLBB. An expert consult-liaison psychiatrist and ethicist, Dr. Brendel has published widely on issues including voluntary psychiatric hospitalization (2014), evaluation of capacity to appoint a healthcare proxy (2013), and legal issues including mandatory reporting and informed consent (2010).

Dr. Brendel will be stepping down as Clinical Director of the Home Base Program — a collaboration of the Red Sox Foundation and MGH — in order to step into the new role at the Center for Bioethics. From the press release:

Robert Truog, M.D., Director of the Center for Bioethics, said about Dr. Brendel,  “From a very strong field, Becca stood out as someone who is not only a scholar in the field and an outstanding teacher, but also a proven program builder who will see the final approval process for the new degree through to completion and then build and lead a fantastic program.”  

The new program will be designed to attract professionals with careers in other primary disciplines — medical or nursing practice, social work, law, theology, anthropology, sociology, biotech, etc. — and provide both a rigorous foundation in bioethics as well as the tools and opportunity to pursue an in-depth project relevant to their own career goals. It will include core courses covering key topics and major theories in bioethics, a required scholarly project or externship, and a number of electives that students will use either to gain breadth across many areas or to cluster in one area of concentration.

“Becca is not only an interdisciplinary scholar and collegial leader, but also an award-winning teacher,” added Edward Hundert, M.D., Associate Director of the Center for Bioethics who chaired the search committee, “and she will be a tremendous asset as a colleague within the Center as we expand our programs and our faculty over the years ahead.”  For her part, Dr. Brendel summed it up: “I am thrilled to have this opportunity to join with such wonderful colleagues to build a new degree program that will contribute so much to so many people over the years to advance both their careers and the field of bioethics itself — I look forward to making this a highly collaborative and interdisciplinary degree that will serve an important and growing need for bioethics education and training.”

Watch Dr. Brendel speak on protecting older adults from victimization and undue influence at the 2013 CLBB event, Capacity, Finances, and the Elderly: Brain Science meets the Law.

Other CLBB Faculty and Directors already contribute to the Center for Bioethics in a number of capacities. CLBB Directors Judith G. Edersheim, JD, MD, Bruce H. Price, MD, and Associate Director Justin Baker, MD, PhD, are members of the Center’s steering committee for ethical issues in the neurosciences. Beginning fall 2014, the group will convene seminars and a national conference for neuroethics issues. Since spring 2014, CLBB Faculty Edward Hundert, MD, has served as the Associate Director of the Center.