Program Directors

Steven Joffe, MD, MPH

Founders Professor of Medical Ethics and Health Policy
Professor of Pediatrics

Steven Joffe (he/him) is a pediatric oncologist and bioethicist who is currently the Art and Ilene Penn Professor of Medical Ethics & Health Policy and Professor of Pediatrics at the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine.

Dr. Joffe's research addresses the many ethical challenges that arise in the conduct of clinical and translational investigation.  He has led NIH-, PCORI- and foundation-funded projects to study the roles and responsibilities of principal investigators in multicenter randomized trials, accountability in the clinical research enterprise, children’s capacity to engage in research decisions, return of individual genetic results to participants in epidemiologic cohort studies, the integration of whole-exome sequencing technologies into the clinical care of cancer patients, strategies for diagnosis of germline risk among young adults with cancer, and the nature and challenges of learning health systems.

Dr. Joffe attended Harvard College, received his medical degree from the University of California at San Francisco, and received his public health degree from UC Berkeley.  He trained in pediatrics at UCSF and undertook fellowship training in pediatric hematology/oncology at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Boston Children’s Hospital.

Current Trainees

Katharine Callahan, MD

Fellow in Ethical, Legal, and Social Implications of Genetics and Genomics

Katharine received her MD from Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in 2016 and completed her pediatrics residency at Columbia University in 2019. She is currently a neonatology fellow at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. Her research has focused on how genetics affects clinical care, from the perspective of doctors and patients. Her most recent work explored ways to enhance physician’s understanding of disability and how learning about a patient's life beyond a genetic diagnosis can enhance medical care. Katharine will combine the Neonatology and ELSI fellowships and plans to investigate the ethical and social dynamics of genetic testing in the neonatal intensive care unit.

LaKisha David, PhD

Fellow in Ethical, Legal, and Social Implications of Genetics and Genomics

LaKisha David successfully defended her PhD in Human Development and Family Studies at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She studies human development and family aspects of genetic genealogy. Her research examines processes of family identity development and ethnic identity development among African American adults who use direct-to-consumer genetic genealogy testing services to engage in social interactions with genetic relatives from Africa. Her research also examines the perceptions of Ghanaians interacting with African Americans identified as the genetic descendants of their ancestors who were taken away during the Transatlantic Slave Trade. From 2013 to 2016, she was a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellow at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign focusing on international development in Ghana. As an ELSI post-doctoral fellow at Penn, she plans to explore ethical, legal, social, and technical implications of genetic relatedness among Ghanaian and African American families separated during the Transatlantic Slave Trade.

Rebecca Mueller

Fellow in Ethical, Legal and Social Implications of Genetics and Genomics

Rebecca Mueller is a historian of medicine, medical ethnographer, and licensed genetic counselor. She received her master’s degree in Genetic Counseling from Arcadia University and completed her PhD in the History & Sociology of Science at the University of Pennsylvania. Her dissertation “The Genome and the Biome: Cystic Fibrosis @ Six Feet Apart,” uses cystic fibrosis as a case study of new diagnostic technologies, risk, and sociality. Her next project investigates the impact of genetic diagnoses on individuals’ conceptions of time and the future, intervening in the concept of a child’s right to an open future and adding to the nascent literature on disability and temporality. In addition, Rebecca will undertake research on the delivery and scaling of genetic counseling services in oncology in collaboration with Penn’s Abramson Cancer Center. She is also a course director for ethics in Penn’s new Genetic Counseling Program

Kate Saylor

Fellow in Ethical, Legal and Social Implications of Genetics and Genomics

Kate Saylor received her PhD in the Department of Public Policy at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She is interested in fairness in genetics research and genetic medicine and in how normative values and scientific evidence shape healthcare decisions. At Penn, she hopes to work on understanding and overcoming disparities in genetic healthcare utilization. Her dissertation is on fairness considerations for cost-effectiveness analysis and on the cost-effectiveness of genetic screening in the general population. She has also done empirical and normative work on disparities and inclusion in research and genetic medicine. Before graduate school, Kate worked at the National Institutes of Health as a science policy analyst from 2010-2016. And in some distant past, she studied the development of the receptor cells of the inner ear. Kate plays violin, and she likes to hike and bake.

Naomi Scheinerman, PhD

Naomi Scheinerman

Fellow in Ethical, Legal and Social Implications of Genetics and Genomics

Naomi Scheinerman is a political theorist, focusing on democratic theory, whose research primarily concerns inclusive institutional decision-making in matters of science, technology, and medicine. Her current project seeks to identify, moralize, and prescribe solutions to the problem of exploitation across numerous fields and industries. Prior to joining the Department at Penn, she was an AI Initiative Joint Fellow-in-Residence at Harvard University’s Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics and the Berkman Klein Center for Internet and Society and received her PhD from Yale University's Department of Political Science, where she endorsed using randomly selected bodies of lay individuals as promising institutional avenues for democratic participation in regulating new and emerging biotechnologies, particularly gene editing tools, as well as artificial intelligence applications and algorithmic designs. Naomi also worked as a research assistant at The Hastings Center and received her BA in philosophy and political science at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.