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Medical sociologist to discuss transplantation (10-11-99)

A leading American sociologist who is a pioneer researcher in the bioethics of early kidney transplantation will speak Oct. 15 at The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio.

Renée C. Fox, Ph.D., the Annenberg Professor Emerita of the Social Sciences at The University of Pennsylvania, is the inaugural Salinger-Forland Lecturer in Ethics and the Humanities in Health Care. She will discuss "Medical Uncertainties Revisited" at noon Friday, Oct. 15, in room 309L of the Medical School Building.

The lecture is under the auspices of the Health Science Center's Center for Ethics and the Humanities in Health Care, and is made possible by the Hans and Charlotte Salinger Endowment.

Dr. Fox, who earned her Ph.D. in sociology from Harvard in 1954, has taught and studied in the areas of medical sociology and bioethics for more than 40 years, including 29 years at Penn. She was named professor emerita in 1998. She is the author of seven books and numerous articles, including The Courage to Fail: A Social View of Organ Transplants and Dialysis and Spare Parts: Organ Replacement in American Society, both of which were written with medical historian Judith P. Swazey.

Her major teaching and research interests—sociology of medicine, medical research, medical education and medical ethics—have involved her in first-hand, participant observation-based studies in the United States, Europe, Central Africa and the People's Republic of China.

"Although medical progress dispels some uncertainties, it uncovers others that were not formerly recognized," Dr. Fox said. "The theme of medical uncertainty is a leitmotif that has run through many of the first-hand medical sociological studies that I have conducted."

Dr. Fox will give a second presentation on Saturday, Oct. 16, during a morning seminar at the Ecumenical Center for Religion and Health, 8310 Ewing Halsell. She will discuss "Gift of Life/Spare Parts: A Double Perspective on Organ Transplantation in American Society." For more information, call 616-0885.

The lecture will begin with a history of the evolution of organ transplantation since the first successful human kidney transplant in 1954. Dr. Fox also will discuss the critical organ "shortfall," and end with "some reflections on the very slippery slope down which organ transplantation seems to be sliding as a consequence of the unbridled search for organs," she said.

The Salinger Endowment supports teaching about the non-technical, humanistic sides of patient care. The endowment was established to honor Marvin Forland, M.D., recently retired professor of medicine and associate dean for clinical affairs in the Medical School. It also memorializes the parents of endowment creators Ellinor Salinger Forland and Gerhard Salinger.

Contact: Will Sansom