Glenn Ellis, MPH, becomes one of 20 distinguished visiting scholars at the National Center for Bioethics Research and Healthcare at Tuskegee University, effective July 1.
Ellis brings “a unique skill set to interact in the public sector,” said Dr. Rueben C. Warren, the director of the National Center for Bioethics in Research and Health Care. “He has a voice in the public domain that few have. His experience, voice, and expertise are tremendously needed, and we are just honored to have him join us.”
In this role, Ellis will be tasked with conducting research, community engagement, co-authoring peer-reviewed publications, assisting in the design of bioethics projects, and representing the National Bioethics Center on regional, national and global platforms.
The Bioethics Visiting Scholars program was created Warren, the director of the National Bioethics Center since 2009.
“I established a special group of scholars from around the world to address fundamental bioethics and public health ethics issues that impact on the people we serve,” said Warren.
Ellis is a medical ethicist, researcher, author, lecturer and president of Strategies for Well-Being, LLC.—a global consultancy that specializes in health education, equity, disparities, advocacy, policy and communication. His life’s work centers on the ethical protection of rights for patients in health care and participants in clinical research, especially African Americans and other historically underserved populations.
“This is an incredible honor,” said Ellis. “There couldn’t be a better time or a better place for me to continue to do the work to which I have committed my life. Much of the study of bioethics is an outgrowth of the atrocities that were committed by the U.S. Public Health Service Syphilis Study, many years ago. And many of the national conversations that we are having right now, such as the racial disparities in the COVID-19 pandemic, mass incarceration, and the use of violence and force by police officers—all share the same central themes of eradicating racial inequities and establishing social justice for African Americans, that have echoed for over 400 years.”
The Philadelphia-based Ellis is a native of Birmingham, Alabama and did his pre-med undergraduate studies at the University of Pennsylvania. His post-undergraduate education continued with at St. Joseph’s University, becoming a Certified Health Care Ethicist (CHCE). Ellis completed his Master of Public Health studies at the University of Liverpool and specialized in bioethics, and recently, a Fellow in Research Bioethics at the Harvard Medical School Center for Bioethics 2018-2019.
Along with being the author of Which Doctor? (2006) and Information in the Best Medicine (2012), Ellis has authored or co-authored papers in the American Journal of Public Health, American Journal of Academic Medicine, the Journal of Philosophy and Ethics and the Journal of Healthcare, Science and the Humanities. He contributed textbook chapters in The Wiley Blackwell Encyclopedia of Family Studies and The Healthcare Nonprofit: Keys to Effective Management.
In addition to a weekly, nationally syndicated health column through Trice Edney News Wire, he hosts health and medical radio programs in Philadelphia, and, contributes to news and medical segments on radio and television, in Philadelphia; Washington, DC; Los Angeles; Boston; New York; Chicago; and Birmingham.
Ellis has presented at scientific, academic and health conferences across the United States, as well as Belgium, Canada, Cuba, Germany, Italy, Kenya, the Netherlands, South Africa and Ukraine. Ellis has lectured or presented on bioethics dozens of times in Cuba since 2005. He has also served on the institutional review boards and hospital ethic committees in Philadelphia-area hospitals and health systems over a 15-year period.
Ellis’ public recognitions for his work include: Paul Robeson Health and Wellness Award; Auburn University Distinction Award in Mass Media; Philadelphia Association of Black Journalist Community Impact Award; and Pennsylvania NAACP Award for Health and Medicine.
“Accepting this appointment is the culmination of a path that was set for me by my ancestors to do this work,” Ellis said. “Through this appointment, and with the support of Dr. Warren and the National Bioethics Center, I feel confident in my ability to advance the advocacy for the issues affecting Black people through my work. I’m grateful to be able to have the training, the education and the experience to make a difference.”
The National Center for Bioethics in Research and Health Care at Tuskegee University focuses on local, state, regional, national and international ethics issues engaging academic, civic, faith and legal stakeholders around bioethics and public health ethics issues in health care and clinical research in African American and marginalized communities.
The Center was launched in 1999 as part of the formal apology offered by President William J. Clinton two years earlier to the nation and survivors of the infamous ‘Tuskegee Syphilis Study.’ The original title of the study was ‘Tuskegee Study of Untreated Syphilis in the Negro Male.’ It was conducted by the United States Public Health Service from 1932 to 1972 in Macon County, Alabama. Some 600 Black men (some were poor and some, but not all, were illiterate) were enrolled in the study. Of those, 399 had syphilis and were never treated even after penicillin became available in 1947. The revelation and exposé of the study in 1972 became a landmark moment in bioethics and medical history. Participants in human subjects research must now give their informed consent to continue The National Center for Bioethics in Research and Health Care continues to work with the descendant family members who now have their own 501(c)3 organization, The Voices For Our Fathers Legacy Foundation takes continue to tell the Truth about their fathers and other male relatives who were in the study.