Nov. 11, 2019 - University of Houston Law Center alumnus Kayhan Parsi ‘93 has been voted president-elect of the American Society for Bioethics and Humanities, making him the second attorney to ever serve in the position.
“It’s an honor to be elected president-elect of the American Society for Bioethics and Humanities,” Parsi said. “ASBH is the major professional society for bioethicists, health humanities scholars and other individuals interested in bioethics and health humanities.”
Founded in 1998, the society has almost 1,800 members. Nurses, physicians, social workers, lawyers, chaplains, educators, researchers and various professionals in healthcare concerned with bioethics and the medical humanities join ASBH to engage with and learn from each other.
Parsi will begin his two-year term as president beginning in October 2021. In his role, he anticipates leading the society via a seat on its executive committee, which regularly works with the board of directors.
“We meet throughout the year to address issues related to our annual meeting, as well as develop resources for ethics consultation, ensure health humanities is a vital part of our organization and increase diversity and improve inclusion in our organization,” he said.
Parsi views the bioethics field as maturing, and he considers the formal certification process for clinical ethics consultants that ASBH established in 2018 as a step forward for the field.
“Bioethicists are increasingly taking on leadership roles in academic health centers,” he said. “They are often quoted in the media. Bioethicists are active as clinical ethics consultants as well as academic ethicists. They are also actively involved in the area of research ethics.”
Serving as a professor and graduate program director of the Neiswanger Institute for Bioethics at Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine, Parsi enjoys teaching courses and mentoring students.
“Our students are adult learners, many of whom are working health care professionals,” he said. “I love working with such self-motivated students who are committed to their graduate education in bioethics.
“Seeing my students secure a fellowship, start a new position or publish an article is extremely gratifying.”
While at the Law Center, several faculty members had a lasting impression on Parsi, including professors Bill Winslade, Jim Herget and David Dow.
“Without a doubt, the most important professor I had at the Law Center was Professor Bill Winslade” Parsi said. “He supported my intellectual interests in bioethics and encouraged me to pursue a PhD in medical humanities from UTMB-Galveston. He became an invaluable mentor over the years. We still keep in touch and even co-authored a recent editorial for the American Journal of Bioethics.”
From his time in law school, Parsi learned to appreciate the natural rhythms of life that he feels are often overlooked.
“One of my biggest lessons is that life can be serendipitous,” he said. “Students today have so much anxiety about picking the right school, the right major or the right field of study.
“I was fortunate in that I pursued an unconventional career path that was well suited for me both professionally and personally. Going to the Law Center paved the way for me to eventually pursue a career in bioethics. For that, I am extraordinarily grateful.”