Ezekiel Emanuel Tapped to Lead Penn Medical Ethics Department

Ezekiel Emanuel, the former White House health-policy adviser who is the older brother of Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, agreed to run an ethics department at the University of Pennsylvania’s Perelman School of Medicine.

Emanuel will start Sept. 1 as chair of the newly created Department of Medical Ethics & Health Policy, the Philadelphia-based school said today in an e-mailed statement. He was also named vice provost for global initiatives and the Diane v.S. Levy and Robert M. Levy University Professor.

“What we want to do is broaden the understanding of medical ethics to encompass health policy and broaden the understanding of health policy to encompass institutional and individual ethics,” Penn President Amy Gutmann said in an interview. “We hope to graduate doctors who have a truly deep appreciation of the relevance of their work to health-care policy and vice versa.”

A bioethicist with a medical degree and doctorate in political philosophy from Harvard University, Emanuel will draw from experience working on last year’s overhaul of U.S. health-care laws, on ethics at the National Institutes of Health and on First Lady Michelle Obama’s initiative to combat childhood obesity. He said he wants to use his new job partly to promote the benefits of the 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act that sought to ensure more Americans have health insurance.

“I want to explain to the business community why the Affordable Care Act is good for them,” Emanuel said in an interview. “I think health-care reform is critical to the business community for their goal of realizing cost control and I don’t think they understand that.”

Clinical Research

Emanuel was special adviser for health policy to the director of the White House Office of Management and Budget from February 2009 to January 2011.

Emanuel previously created and chaired the bioethics department at the NIH’s Clinical Center in Bethesda, Maryland, which acts as a hospital for patients enrolled in research studies, according to its website. Emanuel studied issues there such as informed consent and the risks of clinical research, he said in the interview.

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