Bioethics Master Strengthens and Expands Health Care Practice

NCBA Health Law Section / N.C. Society of Health Law Attorneys

The Wake Forest Bioethics Graduate program admits attorneys seeking to advance their knowledge of health care ethics and public policy, as well as joint-degree law school students who realize the career flexibility that comes with graduate training in the moral dimensions of health care policy. Bioethics education can deepen a health care lawyer’s understanding of the broader social context of various aspects of the life-sciences industry. In depth study of both classic and emerging bioethical dilemmas can sharpen lawyer’s skills in representing health care clients. Or, a graduate degree can be a springboard for a lawyer looking to move into management or public policy career paths.

Since the program inception in 2009, 12 JDs have graduated with either a certificate or a master’s in bioethics. All are applying their knowledge gained from the Bioethics Masters within their practice. Following are three alumni who are blending ethics theory and practice in different ways.

Rebeca Harasimocz (MA, 2014) works for Parsons Summa Law Firm in Charlotte as a property attorney focusing on patents and trademarks. An ethics background has helped with client interactions in the early stages of patent filing, particularly in the biochemical world of pharmaceuticals. Rebeca guides the client around issues regarding clinical trials, potential public concern and perception.

Michael Tennison (MA, 2010) is a judicial law clerk for Judge Harrell of the Court of Appeals of Maryland. Michael has always been interested in the ethical, legal, and social issues associated with advances in science and technology and the regulation of medical drugs, devices, and controlled substances. His prior work experience tapped into these interests. This includes employment at the University of Maryland’s Center for Health and Homeland Security, USDA’s Animal Care Office, U.S. Congress, and FDA’s Office of the Chief Counsel. Now he is able to parlay an ethics background in a higher court setting in Maryland.

Catherine Hammack (MA, 2014) is a research analyst at Duke Clinical Research Institute. With her degrees in law and bioethics, she now collects and analyzes empirical evidence regarding a variety of legal and ethical issues in medicine and research in order to develop policies, model language, and best practices. Catherine is currently working on a collaborative effort to develop a novel electronic informed consent process for one of the largest pragmatic clinical trials. Additionally, she is gathering quantitative and qualitative data from thought leaders throughout the country about confidentiality in genome research.

For more information about the Wake Forest Bioethics Program visit or contact Associate Director Vicky Zickmund at (336)716-1499.