More than Words: Student Serves as Guest Editor for Ethics Journal

According to George Anesi, fostering a dialogue on medical ethics is more than just an intriguing intellectual exercise.

"First, it's a recognition of how powerful the science is," Anesi says. "Things that don't have influence tend not to have ethical complications." Furthermore, he adds, doctors and researchers have a responsibility to use science with respect to their ethics and values.

Anesi, entering his fourth year at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, will contribute to that dialogue by serving as a guest editor for the October 2010 issue of Virtual Mentor, the American Medical Association's monthly online ethics journal. Virtual Mentor selects guest editors for each issue through an annual competition open to medical students and resident physicians.

Anesi, who is pursuing a master's degree in bioethics along with his MD, traces his interest in ethics to his undergraduate studies at the University of Chicago, where he took classes in political philosophy and social thought as part of his core curriculum. Applying those classes to his work as a chemistry major contributed to his growing passion for the subject.

Anesi met with his fellow guest editors and the Virtual Mentor staff in early February and selected "Modern Ethical Challenges in Cardiovascular Surgery and Medicine" as his theme. His issue will address topics like pediatric cardiothoracic surgery for congenital heart disease and heart transplant candidate selection.

In his own work, Anesi has explored ethical implications of genetic testing, end-of-life care and personalized genomic medicine-using an individual's genetic code to provide more targeted medical care.

While temporary, the guest editor role comes with a hefty to-do list, including the initial brainstorming meeting with the editorial staff, soliciting content from contributors, editing copy and reviewing page proofs. Anesi, as the former editor of his undergraduate alma mater's student paper, the Chicago Maroon, is looking forward to tapping into his journalistic talents again. “It's a lot of work, but it's a proirity for me," he says. "And you make time for your priorities."