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The John M. Olin Center for Inquiry into the Theory and Practice of Democracy

Leon Richard Kass

Curriculum Vitae

  • Name:Leon Richard Kass

  • Office:
    1116 E. 59th St., Chicago, IL 60637
  • Office Phone: 773/702-8571

  • Born: Chicago, Illinois, February 12, 1939
  • Married: 1961; two daughters


    1954-1958 --- The College, The University of Chicago; B.S. (Biology), with honors, 1958

    1958-1962 --- School of Medicine, The University of Chicago; M.D., with honors, 1962

    1963-1967 --- Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, Harvard University; Ph.D. (Biochemistry), 1967. (Thesis sponsor: Konrad Bloch)

    Positions Held

    1962-1963 --- Intern (Medicine), Beth Israel Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts

    1967-1970 --- Staff Associate, then Staff Fellow, then Senior Staff Fellow, Laboratory of Molecular Biology, National Institute of Arthritis and Metabolic Diseases, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland

    1970-1972 --- Executive Secretary, Committee on the Life Sciences and Social Policy, National Research Council/National Academy of Sciences, Washington, D.C.

    1972-1976 --- Tutor, St. John's College, Annapolis, Maryland

    1973-1974 --- Independent research on "Concepts of Organism, Species, and Health - Ancient and Modern," supported by grant from National Endowment for the Humanities

    1974-1976 --- Joseph P. Kennedy, Sr., Research Professor in Bioethics, The Kennedy Institute of Ethics, Georgetown University

    1976-1984 --- Henry R. Luce Professor of the Liberal Arts of Human Biology, The College and the Committee on Social Thought, The University of Chicago

    1984-1990 --- Professor in The College and the Committee on Social Thought, The University of Chicago

    1990- Current --- Addie Clark Harding Professor in The College and the Committee on Social Thought, The University of Chicago

    (Also at The University of Chicago:
    Co-founder and Faculty Chairman, "Fundamentals: Issues and Texts" (undergraduate degree program), 1983-Current
    Senior Fellow and Associate Director, John M. Olin Center for Inquiry into the Theory and Practice of Democracy; Senior Fellow, MacLean Center for Clinical Medical Ethics)

    1991-1992, 1998-1999 --- William H. Brady, Jr., Distinguished Fellow, American Enterprise Institute, Washington, D.C.

    Honors and Fellowships

    Phi Beta Kappa
    Alpha Omega Alpha
    National Institutes of Health Postdoctoral Fellow, 1963-1967
    John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellow, 1972-1973
    Llewellyn John and Harriet Manchester Quantrell Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching, The University of Chicago, 1983
    Fellow, National Humanities Center, 1984-1985
    Faculty, Telluride Association Summer Program, Chicago, 1986
    Amoco Foundation Award for Distinguished Contributions to Undergraduate Teaching, The University of Chicago, 1993
    Doctor of Humane Letters honoris causa, The University of Dallas, 1997
    Templeton Honor Rolls for Education in a Free Society, 1997-1998

    National Service

    Surgeon, United States Public Health Service, 1967-1969

    Professional Organizations

    Medical Committee for Human Rights, member, 1965-1969
    Federation of American Scientists, member, 1967-1973
    American Association for the Advancement of Science, member, 1969-1993

    The Hastings Center (Institute of Society, Ethics, and the Life Sciences):

    United States-Israel Binational Science Foundation, member of Board of Governors, 1982-1988

    National Council on the Humanities, National Endowment for the Humanities, Member, 1984-1991:

    Scientific Publications

    1. Kass, L.R., Brock, D.J.H., and Bloch, K. ß-Hydroxydecanoyl-Thioester Dehydrase. I. Purification and properties. J. Biol.Chem. 242:4418-4431, 1967.

    2. Brock, D.J.H., Kass, L.R., and Bloch, K. ß-Hydroxydecanoyl-Thioester Dehydrase. II. Modes of action. Biol. Chem. 242:4432-4440, 1967.

    3. Kass, L.R., and Bloch, K. On the enzymatic synthesis of unsaturated fatty acids in Escherichia coli. Proc. Natl. Acad.Sci. USA 58:1168-1173, 1967.

    4. Kass, L.R. The antibacterial activity of 3-Decynoyl-N-Acetylcysteamine: Inhibition in vivo of ß-Hydroxydecanoyl-Thioester Dehydrase. J. Biol. Chem. 243:3323-3328, 1968.

    5. Rosner, J.L., Kass, L.R., and Yarmolinsky, M.B. Parallel behavior of F and Pl in causing induction of lysogenic bacteria. Cold Spr. Harb. Symp. Quant. Biol. 33:785-789, 1968.

    6. Kass, L.R. ß-Hydroxydecanoyl-Thioester Dehydrase from Escherichia coli. Methods in Enzymology, Vol. XVI:73-80, 1969.

    7. Kass, L.R., and Brock, D.J.H. Synthesis of Thioesters of N-Acetylcysteamine. Methods in Enzymology, Vol. XVI:696-698, 1969.

    8. Kass, L.R., and Yarmolinsky, M.B. Segregation of Functional Sex Factor into Minicells. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 66:815-822, 1970.

    Publications in Biomedical Ethics; Science and Human Affairs; Social Thought

    1. "A Caveat on Transplants," in Outlook, in The Washington Post, Jan. 14, 1968.

    2. "Problems in the Meaning of Death," in Science 170:1235-1236, 1970.

    3. "What Price the Perfect Baby?" in Science 173:103, 1971 (Letter).

    4. "Review of Fabricated Man by Paul Ramsey," in Theology Today 28:105-107, 1971.

    5. "Death as an Event: A Commentary on Robert Morison," in Science 173:698-702, 1971.

    6. "The New Biology: What Price Relieving Man's Estate?" in Science 174:779-788, 1971.

    7. "Babies by Means of in vitro Fertilization: Unethical Experiments on the Unborn?" in New England Journal of Medicine 285:1174-1179, 1971.

    8. "Man's Right to Die," in The Pharos of Alpha Omega Alpha 35 (2):73-77, 1972.

    9. "Making Babies - The New Biology and the 'Old' Morality," in The Public Interest, Number 26:18-56, Winter, 1972.

    10. "New Beginnings in Life," in The New Genetics and the Future of Man, M.P. Hamilton, ed., Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publ. Co., 1972, pp. 13-63.

    11. "Refinements in Criteria for the Determination of Death" (with colleagues from Task Force on Death and Dying), Journal of the American Medical Association 221:48-53, 1972.

    12. "A Statutory Definition of the Standards for Determining Human Death: An Appraisal and a Proposal," (with Alexander M. Capron), University of Pennsylvania Law Review 121:87-118, 1972.

    13. "Ethical Implications of Pre-Natal Diagnosis for the Human Right to Life," in Ethical Issues in Human Genetics, B. Hilton et al, eds., New York: Plenum Press, 1973, pp. 185-199.

    14. "The Future of Man, the Organism: The New Biology," an essay published in 1974 in many newspapers as part of the National Endowment for the Humanities sponsored program, "America and the Future of Man: Courses by Newspaper."

    15. "Averting One's Eyes or Facing the Music? - On Dignity and Death," Hastings Center Studies 2:67-80, 1974.

    16. "Regarding the End of Medicine and the Pursuit of Health," The Public Interest, Number 40:11-42, Summer, 1975.

    17. "Determining Death and Viability in Fetuses and Abortuses," in Research on the Fetus, Appendix, The National Commission for the Protection of Human Subjects of Biomedical and Behavioral Research, U.S. Department of Health, Education, and Welfare Publication No. (OS) 76-128, 1975.

    18. "Teleology and Darwin's Origin of the Species: Beyond Chance and Necessity?" in Stuart F. Spicker, ed., Organism, Medicine, and Metaphysics, Dordrecht, Holland: D. Reidel, pp. 97-120, 1978.

    19. "Ethical Issues in Human In Vitro Fertilization, Embryo Culture and Research, and Embryo Transfer," In Vitro Fertilization, Appendix, Ethics Advisory Board, U.S. Department of Health, Education and Welfare, May 4, 1979.

    20. "'Making Babies' Revisited," The Public Interest, Number 54:32-60, Winter, 1979.

    21. "A Conversation with Dr. Leon Kass: The Ethical Dimensions of In Vitro Fertilization," an occasional paper published by the American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research, Washington, D.C.: AEI Studies 242, 1979.

    22. "Ethical Dilemmas in the Care of the Ill," in Journal of the American Medical Association 244:1811-1816 (Part I: "What Is the Physician's Service?") and 244:1946-1949 (Part II: "What Is the Patient's Good?"), 1980.

    23. "Ethical problems of the new biology," (Review of Life Manipulation: From Test-tube Babies to Aging by David G. Lygre), in Chemical & Engineering News, September 15, 1980, pp. 47-48.

    24. "Defining Healthy Functioning," in Proceedings of the Institute of Medicine of Chicago 33 (4): (1980).

    25. "Patenting Life," in Commentary, December, 1981, pp. 45-57.

    26. "Change and Permanence: Reflections on the Ethical-Social Contract of Science in the Public Interest," in In Vitro 17:1091-1099, 1981.

    27. "Professing Ethically: On the Place of Ethics in Defining Medicine," in Journal of the American Medical Association 249:1305-1310, 1983.

    28. "The Case for Mortality," in The American Scholar 52 (2):173-191, 1983.

    29. "Darwinism and Ethics: A Response to Antony Flew," in Arthur L. Caplan and Bruce Jennings, eds., Darwin, Marx and Freud: Their Influence on Moral Theory, New York: Plenum Press, pp. 47-66, 1984.

    30. "Modern Science and Ethics: Time for a Re-examination?" in The University of Chicago Magazine, Summer, 1984, pp. 24-30.

    31. "Thinking About the Body," in The Hastings Center Report 15 (1): 20-30, February, 1985.

    32. Book: Toward a More Natural Science: Biology and Human Affairs, New York: The Free Press, 1985. (Paperback edition, 1988.)


    33. "The Academic Vocation Revisited," in (A Symposium on Teaching, Learning, and Publishing) The Cresset (Valparaiso University), September, 1985, pp. 5-8.

    34. (With W. Gaylin, E.D. Pellegrino, and M. Siegler) "Doctors Must Not Kill," in Journal of the American Medical Association 259:2139-40, April 8, 1988.

    35. "Citizens with Mental Retardation and the Good Community," in Lawrence A. Kane, Phyllis Brown, and Julius S. Cohen, eds., The Legal Rights of Citizens With Mental Retardation, Lanham, Maryland: University Press of America, 1988, pp. 7-23.

    36. "Evolution and the Bible: Genesis I Revisited," in Commentary November, 1988, pp. 29-39. (Response to Letters, Commentary, April, 1989, pp. 8-10.)

    37. "What's Wrong With Babel?" in The American Scholar 58 (1): 41-60, Winter, 1989.

    38. "Neither for Love Nor Money: Why Doctors Must Not Kill," in The Public Interest, Number 94:25-46, Winter, 1989.

    39. "Medicine: Profession or Trade?" in Medicine on the Midway, Spring, 1989, pp. 8-11.

    40. "Do Institutional Guidelines Help in Termination of Treatment Decision Making?", Point/Counterpoint column in Decisions Near the End of Life, Vol. 2: Working with the Law, Newton, Massachusetts: Education Development Center, Inc., 1989, pp. 4-5.

    41. "Practicing Ethics: Where's the Action?", in The Hastings Center Report 20 (1):5-12, January/February, 1990.

    42. "Death with Dignity and the Sanctity of Life," in Commentary, March, 1990, pp. 33-43. (Response to Letters, Commentary, August, 1990, pp. 5-6.)

    43. "New Technologies and Ethical Choice," in Barnard (Alumnae Magazine), Winter, 1990, pp. 2-4, and 24. 44. "The Care of the Doctor," in Perspectives in Biology and Medicine 34 (4):553-560, Summer, 1991.

    45. "Death with Dignity and the Sanctity of Life," in A Time to Be Born and a Time to Die, Barry Kogan, ed., Aldine-DeGruyter, 1991, pp. 117-145. (expanded version of number 42 above)

    46. "Why Doctors Must Not Kill," in Commonweal, August 9, 1991, pp. 472-476.

    47. "A Woman for All Seasons," in Commentary, September, 1991, pp. 30-35. (Response to Letters, Commentary, January, 1992, p. 8.)

    48. "Man and Woman: An Old Story," in First Things, Number 17:14-26, November, 1991.

    49. "Suicide Made Easy: The Evil of 'Rational' Humaneness," in Commentary, December, 1991, pp. 19-24. (Response to Letters, in Commentary, May, 1992, pp. 13-15.)

    50. "'I Will Give No Deadly Drug': Why Doctors Must Not Kill," in American College of Surgeons Bulletin, Vol. 17. No. 3, March 1992, pp. 6-17. [A partial reworking of number 38 above.]

    51. "Regarding Daughters and Sisters: The Rape of Dinah," in Commentary, April, 1992, pp. 29-38. (Response to Letters, Commentary, July, 1992, pp. 12-13.)

    52. "Organs for Sale? Propriety, Property, and the Price of Progress," in The Public Interest, Number 107:65-86, Spring, 1992.

    53. "Seeing the Nakedness of His Father," in Commentary, June, 1992, pp. 41-47. (Response to Letters, Commentary, October, 1992, pp. 5-7.)

    54. "Death on the California Ballot," in The American Enterprise, September/October, 1992, pp. 44-51.

    55. "Is There a Right to Die?" in Hastings Center Report 23 (1):34-43, January/February, 1993. A slightly different version appears in Robert A. Licht, ed., Old Rights and New, Washington, D.C.: AEI Press, 1993, pp. 75-95.

    56. "The Problem of Technology," in Arthur Melzer, Jerry Weinberger, and M. Richard Zinman, editors, Technology and the Western Political Tradition, Ithaca, New York: Cornell University Press, 1993, pp. 1-24.

    57. "The Path Not Taken," (Review of: Assimilation versus Separation: Joseph the Administrator and the Politics of Religion in Biblical Israel by Aaron Wildavsky), in Commentary, September, 1993, pp. 58-61.

    58. Book: The Hungry Soul: Eating and the Perfecting of Our Nature, New York: The Free Press, 1994.


    59. "Why the Dietary Laws?", in Commentary, June, 1994, pp. 42-48. (Response to Letters, in Commentary, October, 1994, pp. 10-16.)

    60. "Educating Father Abraham: The Meaning of Wife," in First Things, Numbr 47:16-26, November, 1994.

    61. "Educating Father Abraham: The Meaning of Fatherhood," in First Things, Number 48:32-43, December, 1994.

    62. "Am I My (Foolish) Brother's Keeper?" in The American Enterprise, November/December, 1994, pp. 16-27.

    63. "The Need for Piety and Law: A Kristol-Clear Case," in Christopher DeMuth and William Kristol, editors, The Neoconservative Imagination: Essays in Honor of Irving Kristol. Washington, D.C.: AEI Press, 1995, pp. 112-33.

    64. "Comment on The Giving Tree" (Contribution to Symposium), in First Things, Number 49:42-43, January, 1995.

    65. "Intelligence and the Social Scientist," in The Public Interest, Number 120:64-78, Summer, 1995.

    66.(With Amy A. Kass) "What's Your Name?" in First Things, Number 57:14-25, November, 1995.

    67. "The Permanent Limitations of Biology," in William A. Rusher, editor, The Ambiguous Legacy of the Enlightenment. Lanham, MD: University Press of America, Inc., 1995, pp. 120-141.

    68. "Appreciating The Phenomenon of Life," in Hastings Center Report 25 (7):3-12, Special Issue, 1995.

    69. "Farmers, Founders, and Fratricide: The Story of Cain and Abel," in First Things, Number 62:19-26, April, 1996.

    70. "A Genealogy of Justice," in Commentary, July, 1996, pp. 44-51. (Response to Letters, in Commentary, November, 1996, pp. 16-18)

    71. "Dehumanization Triumphant," in First Things, Number 65:15-16, August/September, 1996. Reprinted in Connecticut Medicine 60 (10):619-620, 1996.

    72. "Whither Medicine? Marginal Musing About Central Questions," in Proceedings of the National Meeting on M.D./Ph.D. Education and Research in the Humanities and the Social Sciences (Chicago: The University of Chicago, 1996), pp. 23-39.

    73. "Charity and the Confines of Compassion," in Philanthropy X (2): 5-7 & 28-31, Spring, 1996.

    74. "The Akedah as Final Examination: Abraham, Summa cum Laude," in Sources: The Chicago Journal of Jewish Studies, Number II, Spring, 1996, pp. 24-31.

    75.(with Nelson Lund) "Physician-Assisted Suicide, Medical Ethics, and the Future of the Medical Profession," in Duquesne Law Review 35 (1):395-425, 1996.

    76.(with Nelson Lund) "Courting Death: Assisted Suicide, Doctors, and the Law," Commentary, December, 1996, pp. 17-29. (A somewhat altered version of item 75 above.) (Response to Letters, in Commentary, April 1997, pp. 3-7.)

    77. "The Troubled Dream of Nature as a Moral Guide," Hastings Center Report 26 (6):22-24, November/December 1996.

    78. "The End of Courtship," in The Public Interest, Number 126:39-63, Winter, 1997.

    79. "The Wisdom of Repugnance: Why We Should Ban the Cloning of Human Beings," in The New Republic, June 2, 1997, pp. 17-26.

    80. "The Aims of Liberal Education," in The Aims of Education, ed. John Boyer, The University of Chicago, 1997, pp. 81-106.

    81. (Book, with James Q. Wilson) The Ethics of Human Cloning, Washington, DC: The American Enterprise Institute, 1998.

    82. "Beyond Biology," (Review of Brave New Worlds: Staying Human in the Genetic Future, by Bryan Appleyard), in The New York Times Book Review, August 23, 1998, pp. 7-8.

    83. "Love of Woman and Love of God: The Case of Jacob," in Commentary, March, 1999, pp. 46-54.

    84.(Book) The Hungry Soul: Eating and the Perfecting of Our Nature (Second Edition of item 58 above, with a new Foreword), Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1999.

    85. (With Amy A. Kass) "Proposing Courtship," in First Things, Number 96:32-41, October, 1999.

    86. "The Moral Meaning of Genetic Technology," in Commentary, September, 1999, pp. 32-38. (Response to Letters, in Commentary, December, 1999, pp. 5-8.) 87. "Why We Should Ban the Cloning of Human Beings," in Texas Review of Law & Politics, 4(1):41-49, Fall, 1999.

    88. (Book, with Amy A. Kass) Wing to Wing, Oar to Oar: Readings on Courting and Marrying, Notre Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame Press, 2000.

    Courses Taught

    St. John's College
    Georgetown University
    For National Endowment of Humanities
    University of Chicago
    * = graduate-and-undergraduate seminar
    ** = freshman common-core humanities-and-social science course, year-long

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