We Live in One World: An Interview with Henry Silverman

by Megan Frame, membership coordinator

Welcome to another installment of our featured member interviews where we will continue to introduce you to more of our members—individuals who work to advance ethical research on a daily basis. Please read on to learn more about their professional experiences, how membership helps connect them to a larger community, and what goes on behind-the-scenes in their lives!

Today we’d like to introduce you to Henry Silverman, MD, MA, professor of medicine at the University of Maryland School of Medicine in Baltimore, MD. 

Megan Frame (MF): When and why did you join the field? 
Henry Silverman (HS): My transition into the field of ethics has slowly evolved over the last 20 years, motivated initially by the difficult issues surrounding the end of life that I faced when I started working in an intensive care unit. My lack of knowledge of medical ethics prompted me to obtain a Master’s degree in bioethics which has provided me with the background necessary to analyze all types of ethical issues. Subsequently, I became very active in conducting critical care clinical trials, which led me into the research ethics field. All of this prepared me for obtaining a Fogarty/National Institutes of Health training grant  to enhance research ethics capacity of individuals in the Middle East.

MF: What skills are particularly helpful in a job like yours?  
HS: One major skill involved with my job is being able to conduct ethical analysis, which really requires a background in philosophy.

MF: Have there been any PRIM&R events or talks that you have attended that have significantly impacted your approach to your work? If so, what were they and how did they influence you?
HS: I can’t say there has been a single PRIM&R event or lecture that has influenced me, but rather simply attending PRIM&R conferences and being able to network with so many individuals at one time, in a short period of time, has been remarkable.

MF: How has membership in PRIM&R’s community of research ethics professionals helped you to advance in your career?
HS: The PRIM&R staff has been especially helpful in regards to the expanding international focus of our field. PRIM&R has taken a strong interest in providing opportunities to individuals from overseas. Many of my trainees in the Middle East Research Ethic Training Initiative (MERETI) have been recipients of PRIM&R’s conference scholarship program, and the PRIM&R experience has been extraordinary for them.

MF: What is your proudest achievement? 
HS: Directing the MERETI program and developing professional and personal relationships with individuals from the Middle East.

MF: What is one thing you wish “the man/woman on the street” knew about your work? 
HS: We live in one world, and hence, the problems faced by individuals in the developing world do affect us, no matter how invisible they may appear to be.

Originally posted on Ampersand, the blog of Public Responsibility in Medicine and Research (PRIM&R). To read more from this series and to access additional content related to research ethics, visit Ampersand today.

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