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SFSU professor elected president of national bioethics organization

Contact: William Morris
phone:(415) 405-3606

SFSU professor elected president of national bioethics organization

Jewish Studies director Laurie Zoloth takes lead in effort to link human values and health care.

SAN FRANCISCO, December 20, 2000 - Laurie Zoloth, director of the Jewish Studies Program at San Francisco State University and an associate professor of social ethics and Jewish philosophy, has been elected president of the American Society for Bioethics and Humanities (ASBH). Zoloth will serve a one-year term for the organization, which seeks to bring scholars, policy makers, professionals and practitioners together to consider and encourage the role of human values in health-care decisions.

"I am extremely proud to have been chosen to lead the ASBH at a critical time in its history," said Zoloth, who will begin her tenure in January 2001. "We, as a nation and as an academic field, face important and historical ethical choices. Issues of justice in health policy, issues of how we understand the physician-patient relationship in an era of managed care, issues of ethical choice in medical genetics, and issues of care at the end of life are all subjects that drive our study and research. Th e conversations that the Society leads are intended to enliven and enrich a wider national debate on these crucial topics, which will shape health care for generations of Americans."

The American Society for Bioethics and Humanities is the only national organization for the clinical and academic teaching and research of bioethics and humanities in medicine. It was formed in 1998 when three national organizations-the Society for Health and Human Values, the Society for Bioethics Consultation, and the American Association of Bioethics-agreed to consolidate their efforts.

Zoloth, who holds a doctorate in social ethics from the Graduate Theological Union, has published and commented extensively on issues related to bioethics. Her work is often informed by her study of Jewish ethics and philosophy, as evidenced by her latest book "Health Care and the Ethics of Encounter: A Jewish Discussion of Social Justice."

In the book, Zoloth analyzes Oregon's experimental health-care plan that seeks to provide coverage to low-income families by prioritizing treatments that will be covered by the state. While the book centers around an evaluation of the Oregon plan, it is infused with elements from Judaism, including discussion of the Book of Ruth and talmudic debate. By working Jewish narrative and philosophy into a discussion of medical ethics, Zoloth models a framework for approaching the discussions of health care t hat the ASBH hopes to support and stimulate.

The fourth largest campus in the 23-campus California State University system, San Francisco State University is a highly diverse, comprehensive, public, urban university.

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NOTE: Laurie Zoloth may be contacted directly at (415) 338-6075, (415) 338-3154

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