Last updated on: 6/1/2009 | Author:

Leon R. Kass, MD, PhD Biography

Former Chairman of the President's Council on Bioethics
Con to the question "Should Performance-Enhancing Drugs Be Accepted in Sports?"

“In trying to achieve better bodies through biotechnology, we do not in fact honor our given bodies or cultivate our given individual gifts. Instead we are, whether we realize it or not, voting with our syringes to have a different body, with different native capacities and powers. We are giving ourselves new and foreign gifts, not nature’s and not our own. Those who retort that nature’s original gifts deserve no special claim on our loyalty--why not become someone else, or even something better-than-human?--would diminish the possibility of personal human excellence in the very effort they make to enhance it.

The ironies of the biotechnological enhancement of athletic performance should now be painfully clear. By turning to biological agents to transform ourselves in the image that we choose and will, we compromise our choosing and willing identity itself, electing to become less than normally the source or the shapers of our own identity.”

“For the Love of the Game,” New Republic, Mar. 10, 2008

Involvement and Affiliations:
  • Hertog Fellow, American Enterprise Institute
  • Addie Clark Harding Professor in the Committee on Social Thought and the College, University of Chicago
  • Member, President’s Council on Bioethics, 2005-2007
  • Chairman, President’s Council on Bioethics, 2002-2005
  • Senior fellow, MacLean Center for Clinical Medical Ethics, University of Chicago, 1991-2001
  • Senior fellow and associate director, John M. Olin Center for Inquiry into the Theory and Practice of Democracy, University of Chicago, 1986-2001
  • Professor, The College and the Committee on Social Thought, University of Chicago, 1976-2001
  • W. H. Brady, Jr., Distinguished Fellow, American Enterprise Institute, 1991-1992, 1998-1999
  • Recipient, Amoco Foundation Award for Distinguished Contributions to Undergraduate Teaching, University of Chicago, 1993
  • Member, Vice-Chairman, and Committee Chairman, National Council on the Humanities/National Endowment for the Humanities, 1984-1991
  • Recipient, Llewellyn John and Harriet Manchester Quantrell Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching, The University of Chicago, 1983
  • Research professor in bioethics, The Kennedy Institute of Ethics, Georgetown University, 1974-1976
  • Executive secretary, Committee on the Life Sciences and Social Policy, National Research Council/National Academy of Sciences, 1970-1972
  • Staff fellow, Laboratory of Molecular Biology, National Institute of Arthritis and Metabolic Diseases, National Institutes of Health, 1967-1970
  • Surgeon, United States Public Health Service, 1967-1969
  • National Institutes of Health Postdoctoral Fellow, 1963-1967
  • Intern, Beth Israel Hospital, 1962-1963
  • PhD, Biochemistry, Harvard University, 1967
  • MD, University of Chicago, 1962
  • BS, honors, Biology, University of Chicago, 1958
  • None found