Stephen G. Post, Ph.D., is Professor and
Associate Director for Educational Programs, Department of Bioethics, School of
Medicine, Case Western Reserve University, where he has taught since
1988. He is also President of a nonprofit 501(c)3 research entity, the
Institute for Research on Unlimited Love, which studies phenomena such as
altruism, compassion, and service. The Institute began in 2001 with a
generous grant of $4 million from the John Templeton Foundation.
In the mid-1970s, Post was a research assistant in pediatric endocrinology
at New York Hospital while simultaneously pursuing a less realistic career as a
classical guitarist, and doing informal studies in philosophy and religious
thought. In the fall of 1978 he began studies at the University of
Chicago Divinity School in the Ethics and Society Program, combining with moral
philosophy with comparative religious ethics. His Ph.D. dissertation on
the topic of self-denial in relation to other-regarding love was completed in
1983 with award of distinction under the supervision of James M. Gustafson and
Robin W. Lovin. Post was one of several faculty-elected student fellows
in the Divinity Schools Nuveen Institute for the Advanced Study of
Religion (renamed the Martin Marty Center) and a co-preceptor in the social
issues in medicine course at the Universitys Pritzker School of Medicine.
After finishing at Chicago, Post taught undergraduates for five years as an
assistant professor responsible for courses in the interdisciplinary
humanities, and for courses in ethical theory, religious ethics, concepts of
love and altruism, and applied ethics (just war, business ethics, social
justice, and bioethics). He also was involved in projects at the nearby
Hastings Center, a bioethics institute. In 1988 he accepted a position as
assistant professor in the newly created Center for Biomedical Ethics at the
School of Medicine, Case Western Reserve University. He became Associate
Director for Educational Programs and achieved the rank of full professor
(1998) with tenure (1995). The Center has since become the first full
Department of Bioethics in the U.S., and is ranked third in the nation.
In the field of bioethics, Post is both a generalist and a specialist with a
focus on neurology, dementia, and aging. He is Editor-in-Chief of the
definitive reference work in the field, the third edition of the five-volume Encyclopedia
of Bioethics (Macmillan Reference, 2003), and served earlier as Associate
Editor for the second edition of this work. His more than 110
peer-reviewed publications span a wide variety of issues have appeared in
leading venues such as the Journal of the American Medical Association, Annals
of Internal Medicine, the Hastings Center Report, and the American
Journal of Psychiatry. An early book publication, entitled Inquiries
in Bioethics (Georgetown University Press, 1993) provides an example of his
initial work in the field. By the early 1990s, however, Post developed a
specialty in ethical issues surrounding developmental cognitive disabilities
and dementia in the context of an aging society. He is now an
elected member of the Medical and Scientific Advisory Panel of Alzheimer's Disease
International, serves on the National Ethics Advisory Board for the
Alzheimer's Association, and was recognized for distinguished service by the
Associations National Board for educational efforts in bringing ethical issues
to Association Chapters and families throughout the United States (1998).
He was presented with the special recognition award by the American
Geriatrics Society for service on its Ethics Committee (2001). His
book entitled The Moral Challenge of Alzheimer Disease: Ethical Issues from
Diagnosis to Dying (The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2000, 2nd
edition), is widely influential and well reviewed. He has also
edited a variety of books pertaining to dementia on topics such as
genetic testing and anti-aging technologies. He is an Editor for the
four-volume Encyclopedia of Aging (Macmillan Reference, 2002).
Post has received RO1 funding from the NIH Human Genome Research Institute and
from the National Institute on Aging.
Dr. Posts scholarship has not, however, been focused narrowly on
bioethics. He has a long-standing interest in the related topic of the
family. He is a consultant for family caregivers throughout the United
States and Canada, and has led workshops and educational forums for more than
80 Chapters of the Alzheimers Association across the United States since
1995. Post worked with Professor Don S. Browning of the University of
Chicago on The Religion, Culture, and Family Project, funded by the Lilly Endowment,
and published a monograph with the project series addressing marriage,
parenthood, and filial duties, entitled More Lasting Unions (Wm. B.
Eerdmans Press, 2000). He also co-edited a volume with the project.
Many of his articles and book chapters focus on the moral basis and limits of
family caregiving for persons with cognitive disabilities.
A third area of scholarship, which shapes all of
Posts work, focuses on love, altruism, and compassion in the context of
scientific research (neurology, evolutionary psychology, healthcare, pedagogy,
and human development), philosophy, religion, ethics, and the
professions. He has written several books on this topic, most recently
co-editing a book entitled Altruism and Altruistic Love: Science,
Philosophy, and Religion in Dialogue (Oxford University Press, 2002).
Post is President of the Institute for Research on Unlimited Love, a 501
(c)(3) established in July 2001 to conduct and fund high-level empirical
research on topics such as unselfish love, compassion, care, kindness, and
altruism, as well as to encourage scientifically informed reflection from the
humanities (see www.unlimitedloveinstitute.org).
Posts work on the theme of love began with his dissertation at the University
of Chicago, and his articles on love have appeared over two decades in venues
such as the Journal of Religious Ethics, the Journal of Religion,
and the Journal of the American Academy of Religion. Posts most
recent book, entitled Human Nature and Freedom of Public Religious
Expression (University of Notre Dame Press, 2003), examines scientific
images of human nature and altruism within a wider context of freedom of
Post has integrated these three related foci through his work with
individuals and families affected by Alzheimer disease. This work has
allowed him to actively serve an identified and needful constituency through
providing volunteer respite care and consultation. Much of his writing on
altruism and compassion has developed out of experiences in providing care for
this population, and out of a direct awareness of the importance of
compassionate love in the lives of the most deeply forgetful and the
cognitively disabled generally. Working with the deeply forgetful and
persons with retardation has given him the opportunity to reflect theoretically
and practically on many general issues of bioethics ranging from genetic
testing and research to behavior control and a peaceful dying.
In addition, he has been able to develop his work on the ethics of the
family and the family caregiver in a manner that has been of real
use to family caregivers across the Alzheimers Associations in both the U.S.
Although his formal training is in religious and philosophical ethics, Post
has taken an expanding integrative path that began with interdisciplinary
humanities, moved even further into the domain of biotechnology, and now
culminates in the establishment of a research institute on love at the
interface of science, religion, and practice. He has been an active
lay leader in the Episcopal Church for 20 years, and is a husband and the
father of two children.
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