Thomas May, PhD
Ursula Von der Ruhr Professor of Bioethics
Associate Professor of Bioethics and Medical Humanities
Director, Graduate Program in Bioethics
Thomas May, PhD holds the Ursula Von der Ruhr Professorship in Bioethics, and is Director of the Master of Arts and Certificate Program in Bioethics at the Medical College of Wisconsin's Center for Bioethics and Medical Humanities.
Dr. May's research interests lie at the intersection of bioethics and moral/social/political philosophy, falling into three interrelated and overlapping topic areas. The first concerns issues of conscience, both in terms of the exercise of a right of conscience by healthcare professionals, and in terms of conscientious refusal of public health interventions by parents (such as the case of mandatory childhood vaccinations) or individuals (such as refusal to participate in infectious disease response efforts). The second area of focus concerns issues of public health authority versus individual rights, and is expressed in terms of issues surrounding mandatory vaccination, pandemic response, and bioterrorism defense. The third area of focus concerns issues of autonomy, other-regarding harms, and genomic medicine, and has found expression in topics such as the right to genetic ignorance, the need to expand how we frame the concept of harm for genomic medicine, and critique of recent American College of Medical Genetics policy recommendations.
Dr. May has served as a consultant to the Florida Department of Public Health on ethical issues related to triage during a potential pan-flu epidemic. This appointment followed his service as chair of two Centers for Disease Control (CDC) special emphasis panels on vaccination issues. Dr. May also has served on the American Philosophical Association's Committee on Philosophy and Medicine, and as chair of the American Public Health Association's Ethics Forum. In addition, Dr. May serves as a reviewer for Oxford University Press, Kluwer Academic Publishers, the Journal of Value Inquiry, the Journal of Law, Medicine and Ethics, and the Journal of Palliative Medicine.
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