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New York Medical College Receives UNESCO Chair Distinction for Global Work in Bioethics

Bioethics thought leader, Ira J. Bedzow, Ph.D., to spearhead the new program

Date: January 02, 2020
Ira Bedzow, Ph.D. Named UNESCO Chair of Bioethics
Ira Bedzow, Ph.D. Named UNESCO Chair of Bioethics
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Jennifer Riekert, M.B.A.
Vice President of Communications and Strategic Initiatives
New York Medical College
(914) 594-4552

Valhalla, NY – A long-standing champion of biomedical ethics in health care, New York Medical College (NYMC) has been awarded the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Chair in Bioethics. Sponsored by UNESCO, this Chair is part of an international network of universities and research centers committed to improving ethics education in medical schools. As part of the mandate of the UNESCO Chair, NYMC will develop programs to educate and raise awareness among decision-makers, specialists including researchers, jurists and journalists, the general public and specific target groups.

As a key facilitator in the effort to bring the UNESCO Chair in Bioethics to NYMC, Ira J. Bedzow, Ph.D., associate professor of medicine and director of the Biomedical Ethics and Humanities Program at NYMC has been named chair of the program.  “The UNESCO Chair will work to organize public events aimed at fostering research and educational development around bioethics, and engage the larger communities served by NYMC and the Touro College and University Systems,” says Dr. Bedzow. “It will be a conduit to develop programming aligned with the College’s mission—to prepare students for the new healthcare workplace in a way that speaks to both knowledge and values.”

“Establishing this program at NYMC, with Ira Bedzow as the Chair, is a testament to the College’s leadership role in biomedical ethics and a reflection of our established commitment to leading the way in bioethics in medical education,” says Edward C. Halperin, M.D., M.A., NYMC’s chancellor and chief executive officer.  “It is part of a larger vision to develop medical ethics and humanities education at NYMC and through other curricular initiatives.”

As the UNESCO Chair takes root, the College will offer new public outreach, inter-school educational collaboration and research initiatives around issues of bioethics. According to Dr. Bedzow, specific examples may include workshops and lectures open to the larger NYMC and Touro College and University System (TCUS) communities on the topics of: ethical implications of emerging biotechnology; improving organizational ethics in the changing health care environment; and understanding the role of religion and culture in public discourse on health and medicine.

The lines between ethics and politics can become blurred and navigating the realm of bioethics can be complicated. Yet, teaching his students to untangle these complexities is what excites Dr. Bedzow most about his new role as chair. “A good part of my scholarship and teaching relates to understanding how medical professionals have been, and continue to be, social leaders and public advocates so that today’s health professionals can learn how to avoid unethical politicization.  The UNESCO Chair is a natural extension of what we already do at NYMC, we now just have a bigger platform to make greater social change,” he says.

About New York Medical College

Founded in 1860, New York Medical College (NYMC) is one of the oldest and largest health sciences colleges in the country with nearly 1,500 students and 330 residents and clinical fellows, more than 2,600 faculty members and 23,500 living alumni. The College, which joined the Touro College and University System in 2011, is located in Westchester County, New York, and offers degrees from the School of Medicine, the Graduate School of Basic Medical Sciences, the School of Health Sciences and Practice, the Touro College of Dental Medicine at NYMC and the Touro College School of Health Sciences’ nursing program at NYMC. NYMC provides a wide variety of clinical training opportunities for students, residents, and practitioners.