The James F. Drane Bioethics Institute


The James F. Drane Bioethics Institute at PennWest Edinboro focuses on the relationship between biological and biomedical sciences, ethics, medicine and the humane treatment of patients. This institute is a place of open discussion and scholarly research on topics that impact our world, including medicine, science, technology and ethics.

Welcome to a Place of Open Discussion and Scholarly Research

The Bioethics Institute is both an educational and research center in bioethics, reaching beyond the walls of PennWest Edinboro to touch like-minded individuals across the United States and around the world. It reflects the commitment of PennWest Edinboro to strengthen the bonds between medicine and morality, science and ethics.

Current Research Interests

The James F. Drane Bioethics Institute gives concrete form to the relationship between biomedical sciences and ethics. It is dedicated to promoting this relationship in society and in university disciplines. Issues of biomedical ethics are related to diverse academic disciplines because health is a pervasive concern in today’s Western and global cultures.

For a university to focus on science, yet ignore the associated ethical concerns, would be academically irresponsible. For that reason, our current research interests include:

Past and Present Leadership

James F. Drane, Ph.D.

Founder and Director, 1969-2018

Jim DraneDr. James F. Drane took a circuitous route to PennWest Edinboro. It was a path that shaped him, both personally and professionally, and led to the establishment of one of the only centers for bioethics research in a state university in this country.

The oldest of 10 children in a poor family in Chester, Pa., Dr. Drane felt a calling to the priesthood. He received his religious education at St. John’s Seminary in Little Rock, Ark., and a Theology degree from the Gregorian University in Rome. He was ordained a Catholic priest. He advanced his education at Middlebury College, where he received a degree in Romance Languages before earning his Ph.D. in Philosophy at the University of Madrid.

He studied under the world-renowned doctor of psychiatry, Karl Menninger, in Topeka, Kan., spent years in research at Yale University and made a trip around the world, researching public policies in different cultures on ethical issues in medicine.

When he arrived at PennWest Edinboro in 1969, he collaborated with the then University President to establish the Bioethics Institute. Although no longer a cleric, Dr. Drane has never lost his passion for continuing his ministry in the area of bioethics. He traveled to Central and South America on behalf of the World Health Organization to monitor research being done on human subjects.

In 2002, he was named one of the founders of the discipline of Bioethics at The International Bioethics Conference in Brasilia, Brazil. Dr. Drane has authored 20 books on bioethics and the conflicts and issues that can arise when medicine collides with ethical issues. This most famous text, “More Humane Medicine: A Liberal Catholic Bioethics,” received the Outstanding Book of the Year Award in 2004 from Independent Publishers. It was named “Best Health Book.”

Dr. Drane remains on campus as the Russell B. Roth Professor of Bioethics at the James F. Drane Bioethics Institute.

Kiarash Aramesh, M.D., Ph.D.

Director and Fellowship Director, 2018-Present

Kia ArameshAs a young medical doctor in Tehran, Iran, Dr. Aramesh specialized in community medicine. But he soon found himself immersed in issues that extended beyond physical health and wellness. He became increasingly aware of the ethical issues surrounding clinical medicine and biomedical sciences.

In 2005, he started working as a faculty of Medical Ethics at his medical school alma mater, Tehran University of Medical Sciences. During the next eight years, he conducted and taught several courses and more than 40 workshops on Research Ethics and Essentials of Medical Ethics for faculty members of medical universities in Tehran and other cities of Iran.

He has served as a member of various committees, including the Specialized Research Ethics Committee of Tehran University of Medical Sciences and the National Committee of Ethics in Science and Technology and Bioethics at the National Commission of UNESCO in Iran. He also played a prominent role in the development of various institutions and activities related to biomedical ethics in Iran, including curriculum development for the first Ph.D. programs in medical ethics and the first national guidelines for ethics in biomedical research.

Dr. Aramesh has published several books and articles on various aspects of biomedical ethics in English and Persian and has delivered numerous presentations as invited lecturer in different international conferences. He served as visiting scholar at the Hastings Center in Garrison, N.Y., in 2012 and at the National Institutes of Health in 2013-2014.

In 2017, Dr. Aramesh was awarded a Ph.D. in Healthcare Ethics from Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, Pa. In September 2018, he accepted the position of director of the James F. Drane Bioethics Institute at PennWest Edinboro, where he coordinates activities, teaches courses in Bioethics, and pursues his own scholarly research on topics such as global bioethics, global governance for health, clinical research ethics, and the science-pseudoscience debate and its ethical implications in biomedical research and practice.

His goal is to preserve the legacy created by Dr. James Drane and to create a more dynamic, global presence for the Bioethics Institute.

Duquesne-PennWest biannual conference on global bioethics

The Inaugural Conference


Fellowships for Scholars and Researchers

Scholars and researchers from across the United States and around the world are invited to collaborate with the Bioethics Institute in searching for solutions for bioethical issues and answers to bioethical questions. The James F. Drane Bioethics Institute awards fellowship status to scholars (preferably with affiliation to academic centers) and graduate students (preferably Ph.D. candidates who are working on their dissertations) from the United States or abroad whose scholarly works or projects are related to bioethics.

Each Fellow spends between one and six months at the Institute. During the time of fellowship, the Fellow resides at PennWest Edinboro, using the resources available at the Institute, working with University faculty and participating in University events and activities.

The Fellow may also participate in the events sponsored by other academic centers in the region, especially the Center for Healthcare Ethics at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh.

The institute has a limited fund to cover the travel and accommodation expenses for Fellows each year.

What we provide:

What we expect:

Funding and the final certificate will depend on:

How to apply:

To apply for the Fellowship, please email the following items to Dr. Kiarash Aramesh.

Our Fellows

We are pleased to introduce our distinguished Fellows.

April-May 2019

Stephen HermanStephen is a doctoral candidate in Philosophy at the University of Missouri. His dissertation focuses on the ethics of belief and how agents can be responsible for their beliefs. Over the course of his time at the University of Missouri, Stephen has devoted his time to bioethics, organizing a conference on the ethics of germline genetic modification, and teaching classes in the subject.

As a James F. Drane Fellow, Stephen had two main research projects at Edinboro. First, he is interested in the ethics of tobacco harm reduction policies that encourage active smokers to switch to e-cigarette products as a means to prevent deaths related to combustible tobacco usage. Tobacco harm reduction policies tend to only encourage switching in more advantaged communities. His main concern is whether we have an ethical obligation to gear harm reduction policies towards the needs of disadvantaged communities, especially in middle- and lower-income countries.

Stephen’s second interest is in the ethics of germline genetic modification. One of the primary targets for germline genetic modification are fetuses that contain the genetic markers for disabilities. The idea is that modifying a fetus so that it will not possess a disability is therapeutic. Most think that therapeutic genetic modification is permissible. Stephen’s is interested in whether the removal of a disability can constitute genetic therapy. He argues that having a disability does not make a person inherently worse off than one who does not have a disability.

September-October 2019

Cornelius EwuosoBorn and raised in Nigeria, Cornelius is currently a Condolidoc fellow at the Department of Philosophy, Stellenbosch University, South Africa. He was a recipient of the Santander/Ethics and Society scholarship for Theories and Application from Fordham University; an international visiting fellow at the institute for Medical Ethics and History of Medicine, Ruhr-Universitait, Bochum; a visiting scholar at the Centre for Biomedical Ethics and Law, Katholieke Universitet, Leuven; and the Center for Research and Bioethics, Uppsala University.

For his research stay at the James F. Drane Institute of Bioethics Cornelius explored how an African moral theory, as well as cultural practices, may be used to address ethical issues around: 1) incidental findings in genomic research thereby contributing toward clarifying researchers’ ancillary care duty and advancing the field of ELSI (by providing exposure to the under-represented African perspective on the ethical, legal and social issues raised by advanced medical technologies); and 2) ownership of research data in global or collaborative research ventures, in advance toward a more coordinated approach to research result.

September-October 2019

Olinda TimmsOlinda is a medical doctor and anesthesiologist from Bangalore India, whose interest in medical ethics led to her training in bioethics and academic contributions in this area. Her book “Biomedical Ethics” (Elsevier) is a resource used by medical faculty and students and currently in its second edition. She is a working editor of the Indian Journal of Medical Ethics and adjunct faculty at the Division of Health and Humanities at St. Johns Research Institute, Bangalore. During her fellowship, Olinda worked on developing training modules in ethics for faculty and students, consonant with the Medical Council of India mandate to include ethics training in the medical curriculum from 2019.

September-November 2019

Dina SinioraBorn and raised in Palestine, Dina is currently pursuing her doctoral degree in Healthcare Ethics at McAnulty College and Graduate School of Liberal Arts at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh. Dina has been a graduate assistant at the Center for Healthcare Ethics for three years. Every year, she plans and coordinates the Integrity of Creation Conference. The conference series was commissioned by former President Charles J. Dougherty as an endowed academic event that celebrates the Spiritan mission of Duquesne University. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Medical Laboratory Sciences with Distinction along with a minor in Public Health from the American University of Beirut and a master’s degree in Business Admiration from Duquesne University as a Fulbright Scholar. The Fulbright Program is sponsored by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.

Dina’s research project combines elements from both the health care ethics and the business ethics field. It will mainly focus on how to apply systems thinking as a framework for health care leaders to apply ethical decisions in an era of increasing complexity.

January-February 2020

Fahmida HossainFahmida is a Ph.D. candidate in the Center for Healthcare Ethics and a graduate assistant at the Simon Silverman Phenomenology Center at Duquesne University. Her vision is to place narrative and storytelling as a lived and practical means to understand and shape organizational culture, change efforts, best practices improvements, and everyday, routine, person-to-person encounters through an innovative approach she calls Narrative Authority. Fahmida also serves as a training facilitator and content developer for the narrative-focused, coaching and organizational change firm, Naridus, LLC. She has co-facilitated development classes for the Mandela Washington Fellowship, part of President Obama’s Young African Leaders Initiative; the Johnson Institute for Public Leadership; and the Health Career Scholars Academy of University of Pittsburgh. She holds a Master’s Degree in Leadership, Professional Administration from Duquesne University. She is originally from Dhaka, Bangladesh. Fahmida is based in Pittsburgh.

During her fellowship she explored a prevalent form of traditional medical practices in Bangladesh called Kaviraji that is rooted in Unani and Ayurveda medicine. The pseudoscientific aspects of Kaviraji medicine, in many ways, exploit the uneducated and the poor. She uses Narrative Authority to allow the practitioners and policymakers of Bangladesh to understand the narratives of these people and to make it possible to construct solutions and guide them to embrace scientific practice and avoid pseudoscience without fully forsaking their heritage.

May - October 2021

Ivani Nadir Carlotto

Ivaní holds a Ph.D. degree. Her interest in Bioethics guided her doctoral thesis by addressing the importance of studying and understanding the bioethical paradigm in higher education. She is a member of the Brazilian Society of Bioethics and author of several articles and book chapters in bioethics research.

While at Edinboro, Ivani will be working on a project titled "The ethical debate on science and pseudoscience and its interface with medical education programs."

Her faculty supervisor is Dr. Kiarash Aramesh.


February - April 2024

Giulia Adeele Dinicola head shot Giulia Adele Dinicola is a Ph.D. Student in Healthcare Ethics at Duquesne University, Pittsburgh, PA. She received a Master’s degree in Medical Humanities and bioethics from the University of Rochester, NY, School of Medicine and Dentistry, and a Master’s degree in Bioethics in the area of Motherhood and Childhood from Lumsa University, Rome, Italy. While at PennWest, she will be working on a project titled Misinformation in Genetic Counseling in the Era of Social Media. This project inquiries into the topic of genetic counseling in the era of social media and the internet. Today, patients can find medical information at any time on the web; however, such information can be misleading and incomplete, which may result in wrong assumptions. Families approaching prenatal care may come to the physician after looking at prenatal care options–such as genetic screening tests, genetic diagnostic tests, and ultrasounds–on the internet. When complications are detected, prospective parents may ponder their options while being influenced by what they read on social media and the internet. They may find stories shared about other children diagnosed with severe congenital anomalies whose parents believed the doctors did not respect their parental autonomy to make decisions on behalf of their child. What they do not know, however, is that devastated parents may tell those stories without considering the whole picture. This potentially incomplete information can easily mislead and misinform prospective parents. This paper analyzes how social media and the internet may influence the decisions of parents of children diagnosed with genetic disorders before birth.

Her Faculty Supervisor is Dr. Kiarash Aramesh.


The James F. Drane Bioethics Lecture Series

The James F. Drane Lecture Series is an annual event in which prominent bioethics scholars and leaders in the field give lectures at PennWest Edinboro on various important topics in bioethics. These lectures, in addition to providing ethical insight, knowledge, and leadership, honor the legacy of Professor James F. Drane as one of the founders of the discipline of bioethics.

Lecture Series Flyers

April 2023 October 2021 October 2019 April 2019

Contact Us

Kiarash Aramesh, PhD
164 Cooper Hall
230 Scotland Road
Edinboro, PA 16444