August 29, 2007

Speaker to address legal, medical, ethical issues

by Pete Rosenbery


Caption follows story

CARBONDALE, Ill. — Dorothy Rasinski Gregory, one of the nation's pioneers in health law and bio-ethics, will deliver the 2007 Dr. Arthur Grayson Distinguished Lecture next month at the SIU School of Law.

Gregory will present "Ethics — Law — Medicine: A Vibrant Relationship (Personal Reflections)" at 5 p.m., Thursday, Sept. 20, in the law school's Hiram H. Lesar Law Building auditorium at Southern Illinois University Carbondale. Admission is free and open to the public.


Media Advisory

Reporters and photographers are welcome to cover the lecture. Dorothy Rasinski Gregory will be available for interviews prior to the lecture. To make arrangements for interviews or for more information on the event, contact Alicia Ruiz, the law school's director of communications and outreach, at 618/453-8700.


A past president — and the only woman to hold the position — of the American College of Legal Medicine, Gregory was one of the first women in the United States to earn both law and medical degrees. A graduate of Cornell University and Cornell Law School, Gregory was admitted to the New York Bar in 1951. She practiced tax law for several years before enrolling and graduating from the University of Buffalo Medical School.

Gregory will reflect upon how the fields of health law and bio-ethics in the United States has changed in the last half-century, how she has been both a witness and participant in the development of those fields, and "where we are likely to go based on where we have been," said Marshall B. Kapp, the law school's Garwin Distinguished Professor of Law and Medicine.

The Garwin Family Foundation, created in 1993 for the purpose of fostering educational and academic research, funds the Grayson Distinguished Lecture. Ruth and Leo Garwin were founding members of the foundation. The lecture honors Ruth Garwin's brother, Arthur Grayson, a Los Angeles surgeon who died in 1990.

"We are very proud to host the Grayson Lecture and we are appreciative of the Garwin Family Foundation for their many contributions to the law school," Dean Peter C. Alexander said. "The Grayson Lecture is just one of a number of important programs that exist within the School of Law because of the Garwin Family Foundation."

Gregory was board-certified in Internal Medicine and practiced for 10 years before joining the legal medicine division of the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology in Washington, D.C. She later became director of medical-legal affairs for the Department of Veterans Affairs. During that time, Gregory served as liaison member of the President's Commission for the Study of Ethical Problems in Medicine and Biomedical and Behavioral Research, set up by former President Jimmy Carter.

"She was the liaison for the VA and that really was one of the groundbreaking developments that put medical ethics and health law on the cultural and political map," Kapp said.

She has also served as associate chief of staff for education and acting chief of staff for the VA Medical Center in Long Beach, Calif., and also a faculty member at the University of California-Irvine School of Medicine. Since her retirement, Gregory is associated with the VA National Ethics Advisory Board and also several hospital ethics committees in the Los Angeles area.

There are nine students currently enrolled in the dual JD/MD degree from the SIUC law school and the SIU School of Medicine. The rigorous program started in 1989 under law school professor W. Eugene Basanta and Theodore R. LeBlang, now-retired professor and former chair of the Department of Medical Humanities at the SIU School of Medicine. Since 1995, 23 people graduated from the program.

In addition, there are a number of law students who come from healthcare backgrounds to earn law degrees.

While on campus. Gregory will also meet with the law school's student Law and Medicine Society.

The law school and medical school has had a close relationship with the American College of Legal Medicine for more than 20 years, said Basanta, who is the Southern Illinois Healthcare Professor of Law.

"Her leadership in the College makes her an ideal person to come in and visit with us given our relationship with the College," Basanta said.

Students and guests will benefit from Gregory's reflections, Kapp said. They will develop "an appreciation of how we got to the point that cases like Terri Schiavo and Nancy Cruzan become front-page news; how we got to the point where medical ethics and health law questions affect the every day lives of most of us," he said.