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Lisa S. Parker, PhD

Associate Professor, Department of Human Genetics

Graduate School of Public Health

University of Pittsburgh

Director, Master of Arts Program in Bioethics





Center for Bioethics and Health Law

Barco Law Building, Room 519

3900 Forbes Ave.

Pittsburgh, PA 15260


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Dr. Parker's Department of Human Genetics Faculty Page

Lisa Parker, a philosopher, is Associate Professor of Human Genetics in the Graduate School of Public Health. She directs the University’s interdisciplinary Master of Arts in Bioethics program in The Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences, and is co-director of the Area of Concentration in Humanities, Ethics, and Palliative Care in the School of Medicine. She is also a member of the Steering Committee in the Department of Gender, Sexuality, and Women's Studies and a fellow of the Center for Philosophy of Science. Dr. Parker has published extensively on ethical concerns related to the design and conduct of research, particularly genetic research and mental health research, as well as on aesthetic surgery, confidentiality, and informed consent. With a national working group of the Association of Schools of Public Health, Dr. Parker edited Ethics and Public Health: Model Curriculum (Association of Schools of Public Health, 2003). She is co-author of the second edition of Informed Consent: Legal Theory and Clinical Practice (Oxford, 2001) and is co-editor of Mutating Concepts, Evolving Disciplines: Genetics, Medicine, and Society in the Philosophy and Medicine Series published by Kluwer Academic Publishers in 2002.


Dr. Parker’s recent research has focused on the ethical management of incidental findings and return of research results, privacy protection, pharmacogenomic research and genetic enhancement. She has sustained interest in employing feminist approaches to bioethical issues and in the critical analysis of bioethics as a social practice and field of inquiry. She is a co-investigator for an international research ethics training program focused on China and sponsored by the Fogarty International Center of the NIH. She has provided research ethics training in Kolkata and New Delhi, India through two other Fogarty-sponsored training programs. In 2012, she was appointed to the Genomics and Society Working Group of the National Advisory Council for Human Genome Research for the NHGRI, where she has served on the study section of the ELSI Program (the Ethical, Legal, and Social Implications Program) and on two national working groups examining the management of incidental findings and research results, as well as on the Expert Scientific Panel of the Electronic Medical Records and Genomics (eMERGE) Network.


Dr. Parker collaborates with investigators across the University, as well as nationally and internationally,  on both empirical studies and theoretical and policy analyses. With Carnegie Mellon colleagues, she offered guidance regarding discovery and management of incidental findings in the use of DNA to identify human remains following natural disasters and armed conflict. With colleagues in the Department of Psychiatry, Dr. Parker was involved in a community-based project to investigate the care of elderly living with depression and other severe mood disorders. She serves as a co-investigator and ethics consultant on studies involving biobanking and whole exome/genome sequencing in different patient populations. With colleagues in India, she is investigating differing conceptions of privacy and analyzing the appropriateness of privacy protection requirements utilized in the US and by the NIH when applied in Indian research and patient care contexts.


BA – Philosophy, Hillsdale College (1984)
MA – Philosophy, University of Pittsburgh (1986)
PhD – Philosophy, University of Pittsburgh (1990)

Awards, Honors, and Fellowships

Nellie Westerman Prize in Ethics, American Federation for Clinical Research (1990)
Andrew Mellon Fellowship in the Humanities, Woodrow Wilson Foundation (1984-1990)

Research and Professional Interests

Research ethics, particularly genetic and psychiatric research
Informed consent, privacy, and confidentiality
Feminist approaches in bioethics
Bioethics as a social practice

Teaching Activities

Gender, Ethics, and the Body

Ethical Issues in Clinical Genetics (with Robin Grubs)
Ethical and Philosophical Issues in Genetics
Ethical and Legal Issues in Human Genetics (with Alan Meisel)
Seminar in Thesis Research

Session instructor, Ethical Issues in Clinical Practice, MS-4 elective

Selected Publications

London AJ, Parker LS, Aronson JD: DNA identification after conflict or disaster. Science 2013; 348:1178-1179.


Parker LS, Satkoske V. Ethical dimensions of disparities in depression research and treatment in the pharmacogenomic era. Journal of Law, Medicine and Ethics 2012; 40(4): 886–903.


Parker LS. Returning individual research results: what role should people’s preferences play? Minnesota Journal of Law, Science & Technology 2012; 13(2): 449-484.



Wolf SM, et al. Managing incidental findings and research results in genomic research involving biobanks and archived data sets. Genetics in Medicine 2012; 14(4): 361-384.


Parker LS. In sport and social justice, is genetic enhancement a game changer? Health Care Analysis 2012; 20(4): 328-46 DOI: 10.1007/s10728-012-0226-z


Parker LS, London AJ, Aronson JD. Incidental findings in the use of DNA to identify human remains: an ethical assessment. Forensic Science International: Genetics 2012, Oct 29. pii: S1872-4973(12)00226-8. doi: 10.1016/j.fsigen.2012.10.002. [Epub ahead of print]


Mishra NN, Parker LS, Nimgaonkar VL, Deshpande SN. India’s Disability Certificate: a challenge to health privacy. Indian Journal of Medical Ethics 2012; 9(1):.43-45.


Parker LS, Brody H. Comparative effectiveness research: a threat to patient autonomy? Health Progress 2011; 92(5): 64-71.


Parker LS. The future of incidental findings: should they be viewed as benefits? Journal of Law, Medicine & Ethics 2008; 36(2): 341-351.


Shirts BH, Parker LS. Changing interpretations, stable genes: responsibilities of patients, professionals, and policymakers in the clinical interpretation of complex genetic information. Genetics in Medicine 2008; 10(11): 778–783.


Wolf SM, et al. Managing incidental findings in human subjects research: analysis and recommendations. Journal of Law, Medicine & Ethics 2008; 36(2): 219-248.


Parker LS. Information(al) matters: bioethics’ agenda and the boundaries of the public and the private. Social Philosophy and Public Policy 2002; 19(2): 83-112.

Selected Presentations

The ‘Right to an Open Future’—The Content, Limits, and Usefulness of the Concept. The Child’s Right to an Open Future in the 21st Century. American Society for Bioethics and Humanities. Atlanta, GA, October 26, 2013.


Navigating the High C’s of Community Research, American College of Epidemiology. Chicago, IL, September 9, 2012.


Genetics of Sports Performance: Frameworks for Considering Clinical and Societal Ethics, American College of Medical Genetics. Charlotte, NC, March 27-31, 2012.


Ethics of Psychiatric Genetic Research. International Symposium on Ethics, Culture and Population Genetics, Indian Society of Human Genetics. New Delhi, India: March 18, 2009.


Reconceptualizing and Managing Incidental Findings of Research. Bioethics Grand Rounds. Cleveland Clinic. Cleveland, OH: January 6, 2009; Translating ELSI: Ethical, Legal and Social Implications of Genomics, Case Western Reserve University and NHGRI. Cleveland, OH: May 1-3, 2008.


Ethics and Genetic Testing of Children: Indications, Interests, and Implications. Nationwide Children’s Hospital, Ohio State University. Columbus, OH: May 8, 2008.


Conducting Ethical Research across Cultures, Communities, and Contexts. Cultural Competency in Genetics Research, South Texas Psychiatric Genetics Center at the University of Texas Health Science Center. San Antonio, TX: September 27, 2007.


Informed Consent, Commercialization, and Conflict of Interest (ICCI). American College of Dentists Annual Meeting. Las Vegas, NV: October 16, 2006.