Master of Arts in

Bioethics & Science Policy

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Johnathan Bowes

I started my Stanford undergraduate career planning to major in bioengineering. Over time, though, I felt drawn more towards the bigger questions of ethics and policy that surrounded the growth of genetic technology. I’ve been particularly intrigued by how those questions affect everyday patients, research participants, and consumers. So, after majoring instead in Science, Technology, and Society (STS), I felt that the Duke MA in Bioethics & Science Policy would help me to continue exploring that interest. Through the MA Practicum, I interned at Helix, a personal genomics startup, where I put that interest into practice. Now that I’ve graduated, I’ve gone back to work at Helix as a Policy Analyst.



Melany Cruz Burgos

I attended Rutgers University in New Brunswick, where I obtained my BA in Political Science and Women’s and Gender Studies. I currently attend Duke University School of Law and am pursuing the joint JD/MA in Bioethics & Science Policy. At Duke, I am involved with the Hispanic Law Students Association, the Women Law Students Association, the Duke Bar Association, and LEAD, an orientation program for first year law students. As a law student, I am eagerly learning the language of law and hope to one day translate rules, regulations, and strategies into options my clients will understand. I also hope to explore health care and life sciences litigation.



Rosa Castro

I have always been fascinated by science and technology and in particular by health issues. After studying law, I enrolled in an MD program and completed the first two years of training. Finally, I decided to pursue my career in law and got an LLM and a dual PhD degree in law and economics with a dissertation on patent law. Since then, I have been researching and teaching in the areas of law and economics, intellectual property, and international health law, exploring issues at the intersection of public health, pharma, and biotech patents. The MA at Duke seemed a perfect way for me to combine my previous experience and research interests. I was specially attracted by the unique combination of bioethics and science policy and by the quality of the faculty. I plan to get the most out of this experience by taking interdisciplinary courses that address the most compelling challenges for science & health law and policy. After the MA, I plan to work in an academic or research institution and contribute with an enhanced and forward-looking view to address current and future challenges in these areas.



Andrew Darnell

I began my Masters studies after completing an undergraduate major in Health: Science, Society, and Policy at Brandeis University. While enrolled in the MA, I participated in a practicum at the National Institutes of Health, which focused my developing interests in public policy, public engagement, and advocacy for research participants. After graduating in December, I have continued to work with the Duke Science & Society team as an associate in research. I will be enrolling in Duke Law School this fall to further study the legal and regulatory policies surrounding emerging biotechnologies.



Bahar Emily Esmaili

As a pediatrician working in the developing world, I found that while we have become quite good at saving the lives of children, we have not addressed the ethical implications of our life-saving measures. Global health practitioners often face difficult end-of-life situations with no policies, guidelines, or board of ethics to influence their decisions. Through the MA at Duke, I wish to address this gap—both through gaining a critical understanding of bioethical dilemmas, and through gaining skills needed to influence legislative and policy changes around the largely neglected issue of life-sustaining treatment in pediatric medicine. Beyond this program, I hope to remain active in academic pediatrics and continue to teach medical students and residents on issues of global bioethics in pediatric practice, contribute to research and policy-making in this field, and work as a pediatrician and clinical ethicist in the developing world.



Stefanija Giric

I graduated from Duke in 2010 with a degree in Public Policy Studies. After working for several years in direct advocacy roles and becoming fascinated with new innovations in healthcare (such as direct-to-consumer genetic testing), I realized that I wanted to empower healthcare consumers to become more engaged in their healthcare treatment and outcomes. My career goals involve working with public and private entities to implement policies that would ensure individuals meaningful, useful, and affordable access to their health information. I chose to attend the Duke MA in Bioethics & Science Policy in order to learn more about the legal, ethical, and social implications in making those goals a reality for as many people as possible.



Sean Harrold

I studied both biology and philosophy as an undergraduate Evans Scholar at the University of Illinois. For a number of years after graduation, I worked in Chicago for a global pharmaceutical company doing research and development. During that time, I developed a professional ambition to contribute to the planning process of cutting edge research–and to ensure its ethical practice. I have had the opportunities to help develop seminars at the University of Chicago on the history and philosophy of science, to shadow the Institutional Animal Care & Use Committee (IACUC) of Northwestern University’s medical campus, and to serve on a committee in industry to help improve and refine science methodology. I am excited about the Duke MA in Bioethics & Science Policy and hope to learn how I may best contribute to advancing scientific practice.



Sonya Jooma

In May 2014, I completed my BS in Biology, a certificate in Genome Sciences and Policy, and a minor in music at Duke University. As an undergrad, my love of biology and genetics led me to pursue diverse lab research experiences in plant genetics, human genomics to understand rare disorders, and ovarian cancer. For a long time, I thought that I would move on to a PhD program to become a scientist, but my experience with the Genome Sciences and Policy program piqued my interest in bigger questions about how to enable the translation of research discoveries into medical care and how to ensure that scientific research is conducted ethically and addresses societal concerns. When my longtime mentor Misha Angrist told me about this new MA program, I couldn’t shake the feeling that it aligned perfectly with my evolving interests. And it did—I’ve never enjoyed a group of classes more than I did during the first semester of the program. I had the opportunity to do a summer practicum at the National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI) and address policy issues for the Precision Medicine Initiative. Having enjoyed this experience, I now am pursuing a career in science policy so that I can shape and guide scientific research.



Jessica Ordax

I entered the MA after graduating from Duke University with a BS in biomedical engineering. I planned to work in genetics or drug development but wanted to make sure I fully understood how to address the social, legal, and ethical issues that often arise in these fields. The Duke MA program was a great way to learn about the impact of technological advances on research, medical decisions, and policies. I loved being at Duke and having the opportunity to tap into the research and clinical aspects of the University. I even stayed at Duke for my practicum and worked with the Duke IRB (Institutional Review Board). During my time as an intern I was tasked with revising and updating the IRB member Evaluations before the AAHRPP accreditation. After graduating from the program I was offered a permanent position at the IRB and am currently an IRB Specialist and Science Writer. I plan on staying within the realm of regulatory affairs for the next few years as I decide on a PhD program to pursue.



Anna Quian

Throughout my Duke undergraduate career, I was always searching for courses and activities that would merge my interests of law and medicine. Ultimately I graduated with a double major in Neuroscience and Asian and Middle Eastern Studies with a Concentration in Chinese. I was very excited to hear about the Duke MA in Bioethics & Science Policy, as the program really fits my interdisciplinary pursuits. During the program, I found myself becoming interested in Global Health and how ethical values might differ across cultures. For my practicum, I had the opportunity to learn about attitudes towards abortion in China where policy limits the amount of children a couple may have. After the program, I hope eventually to attend medical school and continue to use the knowledge I’ve gained from this program.



Samir Rahman

I enrolled in the MA program after graduating from Rice University and then engaging in clinical/ laboratory research training in the Department of Medicine/ Division of Infectious Disease at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston. I wanted to explore how policies—from governments, public sector organizations, and private sector entities—affect clinical or pharmaceutical research and development activity that can give rise to new treatment options for diseases. Through coursework in ethics and law, and through policy research activity in the Duke Innovation & Technology Policy Lab, this program equipped me to better understand the legal, regulatory, and policy environments in which such activity takes place. Now that I have finished the MA with a thesis on pharmaceutical innovation for neglected diseases, I aim to engage in further research activity on similar topics before pursuing doctoral studies in the field.



Sean Riley

Before coming to Duke, I received my BA in Philosophy and Political Science from Boston University, where I fostered my interest in the political impacts of science on society. At Duke, I focused on pharmaceutical regulation, health policy, and the ethics surrounding the administration of death, whether that be voluntary (physician-assisted suicide) or state-sponsored (capital punishment via lethal injection.)

My M.A. practicum involved work with the Center for Death Penalty Litigation where I explored the recent issues over drug supply and FDA regulation with lethal injection. This led me to my current research into the role of lethal medications and efficacy of current reporting and monitoring mechanisms involved in physician-assisted suicide in the United States. Since graduation, I’ve worked with the Duke Program in Education on an NSF grant in an effort to attract more highly-qualified STEM professionals to teaching. I’ll be starting an M.S. in Health Sciences at Erasmus University Rotterdam in Fall 2017, where I’ll be getting more public health research experience with end-of-life issues in the Netherland’s unique legal environment, before returning to the states for a PhD in Health Policy.



Natalie Salmanowitz

I came to the Master in Bioethics & Science Policy program after completing my undergraduate major in neuroscience at Dartmouth. I am specifically interested in how new neuroscientific knowledge, imaging, and interventions can or should be applied to the courtroom to improve the effectiveness of our justice system. This program enabled me to investigate this area in depth through bioethics, neuroscience and law coursework, research in a philosophy/neuroscience lab on campus, and a master’s thesis directly on this topic. After the program, I am continuing in this field through a research fellowship at the Stanford Program in Neuroscience and Society (SPINS) before entering law school.



Ashlyn Sanders

While an undergraduate at UNC Chapel Hill, I focused my studies in mathematics. At the same time, I have always had an interest in problem solving in the clinical setting as it relates to challenging cases involving patients and healthcare professionals. This interest sparked my desire to pursue the MA in Bioethics & Science Policy at Duke. I wanted to explore the unique complexities of healthcare and how those operated within the larger medicolegal and sociopolitical contexts. While enrolled in the program, I am focusing on the intersection between medical ethics and science policy. My thesis work will explore risk communication in the clinical setting, which is an integral part of bioethics and policy. After graduation, I plan to serve as an analyst for a presidential campaign and then to continue my pre-medical studies.



Navneet Sandhu

After graduating with a BA in Zoology, I wanted to enter a program that viewed science through a different lens. I became interested in the intersection of bioethics, law, and policy and how it shapes food policy. The Duke MA in Bioethics & Science Policy was the perfect program for me because it addressed each of these topics. In particular, I really liked that I could select an individualized concentration within the program based on my interests. I fulfilled my concentration by accessing Duke’s wide range of classes pertaining to food policy and law and by conducting my practicum at the Center for Science in the Public Interest’s Biotechnology Project. During my last semester, I had the opportunity to work as a Research Assistant for a new World Food Policy Center at Sanford School of Public Policy. After graduation, I spent some time working for the Pennsylvania Democratic Party’s Coordinated Campaign as a Field Organizer. Recently, I returned to food policy and am working at USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service as a Program Specialist.



Ryan Simpson

I entered the MA program after graduating from the Honors College of Charleston with a BS in Biology and a BA in Classical Studies. I love looking at the world from many different angles, and I have always been extremely fascinated by the intersection of science and society. This program provides the academic framework to apply that interest professionally, as well as to explore a diverse array of subjects such as regulation in the emerging bio-economy, advances in genome science, and the rapidly evolving role of the physician. While enrolled in this program, I hope to build a deeper understanding of how new technologies in both medicine and science shape the world around us. Specifically, I will be taking classes related to advances in genome sciences and how they can be most effectively applied, as well as courses that explore the various ethical issues that may arise in the near future of medicine. I plan on applying to medical school upon completion of the masters program, and I intend to use my experience to ensure the ethical use and propagation of developing medical technologies.



Troy Spindler

When I chose to pursue biology as a career, I hoped to become a researcher who would expand on new medical knowledge and technology. While I enjoy performing research, I’ve learned through the years that the need for new treatments is not the only obstacle to adequate health care for many people. With the Duke MA in Bioethics & Science Policy, I am turning my focus toward the policies that dictate people’s access to health and food resources. Duke’s interdisciplinary and critical approach to modern biology will be a great foundation as I enter a career in health advocacy, during which I hope to educate people about the science behind their health and connect them to resources they may need.



Isaac Weitzhandler

I am a PhD student in Biomedical Engineering and an MA student in Bioethics & Science Policy. Before coming to Duke, I studied Chemical Engineering at the University of Southern California. I am an NSF Graduate Research Fellow, and my doctoral research focuses on the material properties of self-assembling proteins. In addition to my research in Biomedical Engineering, I am interested in healthcare and science policy.



Darrell White II

The MA in Bioethics & Science Policy is a pivot point for my emerging career. While an undergrad, I developed a passion for writing and for conducting interdisciplinary research projects; I designed, published, and presented interdisciplinary projects that examined juror judgment & decision-making, obesity stigma, empathy, cognitive neuroscience, and the philosophy of psychology. Although I planned on a career in psychology research, when I saw the MA in Bioethics & Science Policy, my plan shifted. I saw bioethics as a dynamic field that integrated my interests in research with another passion of mine—policy and law. While at Duke, I plan to continue my research and explore how that research materializes into law and policy. After Duke, I want to focus on the transformation from research to policy and/or pursue a JD/PhD program.



Kirk Willmarth

I transitioned to the Duke MA from a PhD program in biology after realizing I was more interested in the societal applications of science than in conducting bench research. Through this program, I have been able to explore both the mechanisms and ethical, legal, and social implications of translating new technologies into the marketplace. My MA in Bioethics & Science Policy allowed me to tap into resources across the Duke academic ecosystem in pursuit of this goal, granting me access to bioethics, law, policy, and business school courses. I conducted my practicum at a consumer genetics startup where I assisted with creating policies to handle emerging privacy, consent, and other ethical concerns, and I received an offer to stay after completing the MA.



Nana Young

Early childhood experiences sparked my interest in the intersection of culture and health. Ultimately, I intend to forge a career as a medical professional, examining the ties between socio-cultural circumstance and psychosomatic expression. The MA in Bioethics & Science Policy seemed to be the perfect vehicle for these interests, allowing me to engage in relevant coursework across a range of disciplines. I experienced tremendous growth as a scholar during this program, fine-tuning my writing voice and taking on new academic challenges. Beyond that, the program equipped me with valuable competencies that have merit in the policy, legal, and medical fields. My post-graduation plans revolve around pursuing a medical education.



Bob Zhao

I am simultaneously pursuing both an MA in Bioethics & Science Policy and a JD at the Duke University School of Law. With my interest in the legal implication of technological advancements, I am very excited to explore the intersection of the law and a variety of subjects, including privacy & data protection, biotechnology, healthcare, and technology corporations. Upon graduation, I hope that the insight I gain from my joint degree will give me an unique perspective as a corporate transactional attorney.