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Winship Cancer Institute ethicist named chair of Atlanta Board of Education ethics panel

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Rebecca Pentz

Rebecca Pentz, professor of hematology and medical oncology in research ethics at Winship Cancer Institute of Emory University and one of the nation’s leading ethicists, has been named chair of he Ethics Commission of the Atlanta Board of Education.  

Pentz, who holds a doctorate in philosophy from the University of California at Irvine, is a widely published investigator and author in bioethics. Her research focus is empirical ethics research on such issues as informed consent, phase 1 research (first use of a drug in humans), and genetic confidentiality, as well as helping researchers with their protocols to make them ethically sound.  

"I’m very honored to be named chair of this panel," said Pentz. "My kids all went to public school, and I believe public schools are a wonderful way for people to receive an education. I am actually quite flabbergasted that I was elected chair from among the distinguished professionals who serve on this panel. I’m thrilled to be able to do it."  

Fadlo Khuri, MD and deputy director of Winship Cancer Institute, said the Atlanta School Board could not have found a better board member and chair.  

"Becky Pentz is one of the finest clinical and research ethicists in medicine," Khuri said. "She formed the clinical ethics program at MD Anderson, and since joining Emory University and the Winship Cancer Institute, she has developed one of the premier research ethics programs in cancer.  She has done pioneering work on research in vulnerable populations and patient perceptions of their participation in cancer clinical trials.  I extend my congratulations to the City of Atlanta on appointing by far the best qualified and best person that they will ever have on their Ethics Board."  

The first order of business for the panel will be a day of training so that a procedure is in place to "deal fairly and ethically" with ethics issues, Pentz said.   

"You want to be able to decide if a complaint should be reviewed, and how to think about things ethically and apply that to procedures," Pentz explained.  

Pentz has decades of experience in medical ethics and is widely published in her field. She is a fulltime ethicist at Winship Cancer Institute, one of the few cancer institutes in the country to have a dedicated, fulltime ethicist. Winship is Georgia’s only NCI-designated cancer treatment center and a leader in clinical trials as well as treatment for a range of cancers.

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