The Center for Law, Brain & Behavior puts the most accurate and actionable neuroscience in the hands of judges, lawyers, policymakers and journalists—people who shape the standards and practices of our legal system and affect its impact on people’s lives. We work to make the legal system more effective and more just for all those affected by the law.

Dr. Rebecca W. Brendel is Director of the Master’s Program in Bioethics, Harvard Medical School Center for Bioethics, a psychiatrist at the Law & Psychiatry Service and the Consultation Psychiatry Service at Massachusetts General Hospital, and an assistant professor in Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School. Dr. Brendel is the former Clinical Director of the Veterans Program at the Red Sox Foundation and Massachusetts General Hospital Home Base Program.  She also previously served as associate director of the Forensic Psychiatry Fellowship at Harvard Medical School. Dr. Brendel is a graduate of Yale College, where she majored in Philosophy and earned distinction in the major.  She is an honors graduate of both the University of Chicago Law School and Pritzker School of Medicine. In 2000, she was awarded the Janet Glasgow Award from the American Medical Women’s Association for graduating first in her medical school class.  Dr. Brendel completed her medical internship at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and her adult psychiatry residency at Massachusetts General and McLean Hospitals.  She completed a forensic psychiatry fellowship at Massachusetts General Hospital in 2004, and served as the Edmond J. Safra Faculty Fellow in Ethics at Harvard University during the 2006-2007 academic year.  Dr. Brendel is a Board Certified Psychiatrist with added qualifications in Psychosomatic Medicine and is admitted to the Massachusetts Bar.

Dr. Brendel is an active teacher about legal and ethical topics in psychiatry, medicine, human rights, and law and has published on these topics.  She evaluates clients involved in a wide array of criminal and civil proceedings, maintains a clinical practice, and specializes in evaluation of individuals with comorbid medical and psychiatric issues.  Dr. Brendel is a member of a specialized interdisciplinary medical team at Massachusetts General Hospital that provides treatment to patients with complex psychosocial problems, including dementia, mental illness, homelessness, substance abuse, decisional incapacity, lack of community support, and poverty.  She is also responsible for oversight of the clinical assessment of patients’ decisional and functional capacity prior to initiation of guardianship proceedings for inpatients at Massachusetts General Hospital.

Dr. Brendel’s experience in psychiatry and law also includes participation in a working group to amend the Illinois Mental Health Code, six years of service as Chair of the Human Rights Committee at Massachusetts Mental Health Center, and participation in the Massachusetts Probate and Family Court’s implementation of new guardianship law in 2009.  Dr. Brendel serves on the Ethics Committee of the Massachusetts Psychiatric Society and the American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law, and chairs the Standards and Ethics Committee of the Academy of Psychosomatic Medicine.  She is an elected Councilor of the Massachusetts Psychiatric Society.

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