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Vanderbilt University: Religion and Genomics





Rebecca Anderson, J.D., M.S., is Associate Professor in the College of Public Health at the University of Nebraska Medical Center and is a board certified genetic counselor at Munroe Meyer Institute for Genetics and Rehabilitation. Her scholarship involves ethical, legal and social policy issues in clinical genetics, public health genetics, and the intersection of religion and medicine. She compiled a collection of doctrinal statements from a wide array of religious groups entitled Religious Traditions and Prenatal Genetic Counseling.


Charles L. Bosk, Ph.D., is Professor of Sociology at the University of Pennsylvania and has done research in the areas of genetic counseling and professional responsibility in health care. His scholarship combines fieldwork with interpretations of the social structures that institute the attitudes and status of the health care professional.


Ruth Schwartz Cowan, Ph.D., the Janice and Julian Bers Professor of History & Sociology of Science at the University of Pennsylvania, is an internationally known historian of technology who has worked on 19th century heredity studies, amniocentesis and Jewish assimilation in the U.S. She is currently working on a book about history and politics of genetic screening.


Joel Frader, M.D., M.A., is Professor of Pediatrics and Professor of Medical Humanities and Bioethics at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. His clinical activities include the care of acutely ill hospitalized children and palliative/hospice care for children. His research explores the ethical issues that arise in these settings, and brings to bear his graduate training in sociology and expertise in qualitative social science methods as well as his broad experience in clinical ethics.


Gail Geller, Sc.D., is Associate Professor in the Department of Pediatrics at Johns Hopkins with joint appointment in the Department of Health Policy and Management where she is a core faculty member in the Genetic Counseling Training Program. She has spent over a decade conducting empirical work on the ethical and psychosocial implications of the Human Genome Project.


Tina M. Harris, Ph.D., is Associate Professor in the Department of Speech Communication at the University of Georgia. Her research has provided new knowledge about the roles of race and religion in perceptions of genetic information and identity.


Timothy P. Jackson, Ph.D., is Associate Professor of Christian Ethics at Emory University. His research interests include moral philosophy and theology, especially the relationship between secular and Christian conceptions of truth, love, goodness, justice, freedom, and mercy. Recently, he has convened a roundtable conference on the ethical issues surrounding adoption and edited a volume titled The Morality of Adoption.


Anita Yeomans Kinney, Ph.D., R.N., is Associate Professor in the Division of Clinical Epidemiology, Department of Internal Medicine at the University of Utah School of Medicine. She is an epidemiologist with a clinical background as a nurse practitioner. Her research includes studies on the role of religious involvement and social support in socially and geographically underserved populations who are at risk for colon cancer, focusing particularly on African Americans.


B. Andrew Lustig, Ph.D., is the Holmes Rolston III Professor of Religion at Davidson College. Before coming to Davidson in 2005, he served as Director of Rice University’s Program on Biotechnology, Religion, and Ethics and as the Academic Director at the Institute of Religion in the Texas Medical Center. He has done significant work in the area of theological ethics and has recently undertaken an inquiry into attitudes toward nature and their effect on moral judgments about biotechnology.


Nancy Press, Ph.D., is Professor in the Schools of Medicine and Nursing at Oregon Health and Science University and has been a major contributor to the development of the field of the ethical, legal, and social implications of genetics (ELSI). Working in the areas of reproductive genetics, behavioral genetics, and cancer genetics, the thread that ties Press' work together is the question of how cultural factors shape the choices and understandings of scientists, clinicians, and the general public in developing, using, and reacting to genetic information.


David H. Smith, Ph.D., is currently Bioethicist-in-Residence at Yale University’s Interdisciplinary Center for Bioethics and Professor Emeritus in Religious Studies at Indiana University. Throughout his career, he has addressed many of the issues related to religion and health care and more specifically theology and genetics.


Mary T. White, Ph.D., is Associate Professor and Director of the Division of the Medical Humanities for the Boonshoft School of Medicine at Wright State University. Her research interests include informed consent and decision-making models in genetics and the role that religious and spiritual concerns play in interpreting genetic information.




Virginia L. Bartlett, M.T.S. is a doctoral student in the Graduate Department of Religion at Vanderbilt University. She is currently doing research in the areas of clinical ethics and prenatal surgery.


Mark J. Bliton, Ph.D., is Associate Professor in the Departments of Medicine, Obstetrics and Gynecology, and Philosophy at Vanderbilt University. One area of his research includes the phenomenon of “self” and moral experience, especially regarding the effects of genomic technology and information on our deep presumptions about the nature and enactment of “self.”


Larry Churchill, Ph.D. is the Ann Geddes Stahlman Chair of Medical Ethics and Co-Director of the Center for Biomedical Ethics and Society at the Vanderbilt University Medical Center. He also holds appointments in the Vanderbilt Divinity School and in the Department of Philosophy. Among his wide research interests is the concern with the challenges of genetic screening and testing for human self-understanding and the role of religion/spirituality in interpreting genetic knowledge in clinical settings.


Ellen Wright Clayton, M.D., J.D., is the Rosalind E. Franklin Professor of Genetics and Health Policy and Co-Director of the Center for Biomedical Ethics and Society at the Vanderbilt University Medical Center. She has been interested in issues surrounding the ethical, legal, and social implications of advances in genetics and genomics for many years as both a scholar and a policy maker. She is currently directing three empirical research projects investigating the impact of advances of genetic knowledge on patients.


Joe Fanning, M.Div., Th.M., is a doctoral candidate in the Graduate Department of Religion at Vanderbilt University. His current research examines the dominant models of communication in genetic counseling and their responsiveness to religious issues that arise in clinical settings.


Rolanda L. Johnson, Ph.D., R.N., is Assistant Professor in the School of Nursing at Vanderbilt University. With the goal of reducing health disparities, she studies the health promoting behaviors of African Americans and contributing factors such as racial identity and socioeconomic status. Her current research aims to understand perceptions and beliefs about genetics held by African Americans and seeks to identify the influence that religious and spiritual resources have on these attitudes.