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August 10, 2001 Contact: University of Chicago News Office
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Biosketch: Leon R. Kass, M.D., Ph.D.

Leon R. Kass is the Addie Clark Harding Professor in the Committee on Social Thought and the College at the University of Chicago. A native of Chicago, Dr. Kass was educated at the University of Chicago where he earned his B.S. and M.D. degrees (1958; 1962) and at Harvard where he took a Ph.D. in biochemistry (1967). Afterwards he did research in molecular biology at the National Institutes of Health, while serving in the United States Public Health Service. Shifting directions from doing science to thinking about its human meaning, he has been engaged for over thirty years with ethical and philosophical issues raised by biomedical advance, and, more recently, with broader moral and cultural issues.

From 1970-72, Dr. Kass served as Executive Secretary of the Committee on the Life Sciences and Social Policy of the National Research Council/National Academy of Sciences, whose report, Assessing Biomedical Technologies, provided one of the first overviews of the emerging moral and social questions posed by biomedical advance. He taught at St. John’s College, Annapolis, MD, and served as Joseph P. Kennedy, Sr., Research Professor in Bioethics at the Kennedy Institute of Ethics at Georgetown University, before returning to the University of Chicago where he has been an award-winning teacher since 1976.

He is a Founding Fellow (and for 26 years a board member) of the Hastings Center (the nation’s first bioethics research center), a Senior Fellow of the MacLean Center for Clinical Medical Ethics, and a Senior Fellow and an Associate Director of the John M. Olin Center for Inquiry into the Theory and Practice of Democracy, both at the University of Chicago. He has been a member of the National Council on the Humanities of the National Endowment for the Humanities. His numerous articles and books include: Toward a More Natural Science: Biology and Human Affairs; The Hungry Soul: Eating and the Perfecting of Our Nature; The Ethics of Human Cloning (with James Q. Wilson); and Wing to Wing, Oar to Oar: Readings on Courting and Marrying (with Amy A. Kass). His widely reprinted essays in biomedical ethics have dealt with issues raised by in vitro fertilization, cloning, genetic screening and genetic technology, organ transplantation, aging research, euthanasia and assisted suicide, and the moral nature of the medical profession. His first article on cloning, "Making Babies: The New Biology and the ‘Old’ Morality" was published in 1972 in The Public Interest; his most recent one, "Preventing a Brave New World: Why We Must Ban Human Cloning Now," appeared in the May 21, 2001 issue of The New Republic.

Dr. Kass is married (40 years) to Amy Apfel Kass, Senior Lecturer in the Humanities at the University of Chicago. The Kasses have two married daughters and three young granddaughters.

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leon kass
Leon R. Kass, M.D., Ph.D.
Last modified at 05:09 PM CST on Friday, August 10, 2001.

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