Last year, I had the opportunity to chat with Dr. Edmund Pellegrino. Dr. Pellegrino received the first Paul Ramsey Award in 2004 and since then, has taken over as Chairmanof the President”s Council on Bioethics. The role of the council is toadvise the president on “ethical issues related to advances inbiomedical science and technology.”

Here are some highlights of my conversation with Dr. Pellegrino:

Lahl: What reflections do you have on Paul Ramsey and his key contributions we are beneficiaries of today?

Pellegrino:Paul Ramsey was a pioneer in bioethics, one of the small group ofthinkers who gave the field its start intellectually. I had theprivilege of knowing him, and hearing him speak on several occasions.He engaged the most difficult issues from the point of view ofChristian theology. His mark on the most serious questions in bioethicshas been a permanent one.

Lahl: What are the biggest challenges facing us in bioethics today?

Pellegrino:Anyone who reads the newspaper knows that the debates about humancloning and stem cell research are everywhere. We on thePresident”s council are dealing with issues surrounding geneticscreening and organ transplantation. We need to know where we aregoing with technology, taking advantage of advances but mindful of theethical constraints.

Lahl: What are the encouraging signs you see?

Public awareness is increasing. The public is becoming moreeducated and informed which is very encouraging since these issuesaffect us all. As more and more Americans become aware they canhave positive influence on legislation.