Creighton has a new Jesuit scholar joining its ranks.
The Rev. Kevin FitzGerald, SJ, PhD, PhD, will join the university this summer as the new holder of the John A. Creighton University Professor endowed chair and associate professor in the Creighton University School of Medicine, Department of Medical Education.
Fr. FitzGerald is currently the Dr. David Lauler Chair of Catholic Health Care Ethics in the Pellegrino Center for Clinical Bioethics at Georgetown University. He has also been an associate professor in the Department of Oncology at the Georgetown University Medical Center since 2001.
“We are extremely excited to welcome Fr. FitzGerald to Creighton,” said Creighton President the Rev. Daniel S. Hendrickson, SJ, PhD. “His research and expertise in health care ethics and bioethics are a perfect fit for our Jesuit, Catholic university, as we continue to position ourselves as a leader in values-centered health care education, research, and patient care.”
Fr. FitzGerald, who said he was a “science geek” even as a child, graduated with a bachelor’s degree in biology from Cornell University in 1977, and that same year entered the Society of Jesus. As part of his Jesuit training, he studied humanities at Creighton from 1979 to 1980.
“I enjoyed my time here a great deal, and I’ve always been interested in Creighton,” said Fr. FitzGerald, who served on the University’s Board of Trustees from 1997 to 2005.
He said he is excited about Creighton’s expanding relationship with clinical partners in Phoenix, which started with the creation of a regional campus for medical students in 2009 and now includes other health sciences programs.
“That is a phenomenal project,” Fr. FitzGerald said. “It’s an incredible challenge, and it’s also an amazing opportunity. I think the time is propitious for Creighton to do something like this. There are a great many challenges facing Catholic health care in the United States. But there are also a great many opportunities, because there is a lot that Catholic health care can bring to the challenges before us today – not only in medicine, but in biomedical research and health care in general.
“It’s an interesting development that people working on the global stage are starting to recognize the contribution that the Catholic Church makes in this area,” he continued. “This particular initiative by Creighton and its partners is a perfect piece of that larger picture.”
With the expanding Phoenix presence, Creighton is becoming the largest Catholic health professions educator in the country, said the Rev. James Clifton, SJ, associate dean for mission in the School of Medicine and a classmate of Fr. FitzGerald’s at the Jesuit novitiate in St. Paul, Minnesota.
“We recruited Fr. FitzGerald because it’s not enough just to be the largest,” Fr. Clifton said. “We really want to contribute to the national conversation about what Catholic health care means today.”
“And then, how it contributes to the greater good globally,” Fr. FitzGerald added.
Fr. FitzGerald holds PhDs in both molecular biology and bioethics from Georgetown. His research efforts focus on the investigation of abnormal gene expression in cancer, and on ethical issues in biomedical research and medical genomics.
He has published both scientific and ethics articles in peer-reviewed journals, books and in the popular press. He has given presentations nationally and internationally, and is often interviewed by the news media on such topics as human genetic engineering, cloning, stem cell research and personalized medicine.
“Fr. FitzGerald is highly regarded in the area of molecular biology and bioethics, and has been a major voice on topics related to these areas worldwide,” said Creighton School of Medicine Dean Robert “Bo” Dunlay, MD. “His perspective on Catholic health care education, and the ethical issues we face in health care today, will be invaluable as we move the School of Medicine, and all of our health sciences programs, forward.”
Nonprofit organizations, government entities, health care systems, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, and the Vatican have all sought Fr. FitzGerald’s counsel on issues related to health care ethics and bioethics.
Fr. FitzGerald has been a corresponding member of the Pontifical Academy for Life since 2005, and a consultor to the Pontifical Council for Culture since 2014. He is a founding member of Do No Harm, a member of the ethics committee for the March of Dimes, and a member of the Genetic Alliance institutional review board. He currently chairs the Ethics Advisory Council for the Geisinger Health System MyCode biobank project.