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 to advise the president on “ethical issues related to advances in biomedical 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 of thinkers who gave the field its start intellectually. I had the privilege of knowing him, and hearing him speak on several occasions. He engaged the most difficult issues from the point of view of Christian theology. His mark on the most serious questions in bioethics has 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 human cloning and stem cell research are everywhere. We on the President’s council are dealing with issues surrounding genetic screening and organ transplantation. We need to know where we are going with technology, taking advantage of advances but mindful of the ethical constraints.

Lahl: What are the encouraging signs you see?

Public awareness is increasing. The public is becoming more educated and informed which is very encouraging since these issues affect us all. As more and more Americans become aware they can have positive influence on legislation.