Emanuel's name is known for more than his credentials. While working for the White House between February 2009 and January 2011, he faced criticism from Republicans like Sarah Palin and Michele Bachmann during the controversy over so-called "death panels." And Emanuel, who was born in 1957, is the older brother of Rahm Emanuel, former White House chief of staff and current mayor of Chicago.
Penn is already home to one of the nation's best-known bioethicists: Arthur Caplan, director of the Center for Bioethics. Caplan, 61, said he retired a year ago after 14 years as chair of Penn's department of bioethics, which was smaller than the department that Emanuel will head.
He said it was "time for new leadership, new vision." He said was thrilled with the hiring of Emanuel, who he said was clearly the best candidate for the job.
Caplan said he would continue to work at Penn. "I'm not ready to retire," he said. "I'm just ready to not fill out budget reports."
Emanuel is the 13th Penn Integrates Knowledge professor, a group that holds endowed professorships and joint appointments between schools. Penn president Amy Gutmann created the initiative to recruit scholars whose work exemplifies "integration of knowledge."
Gutmann said Emanuel's appointment will make Penn "unrivaled in our scope and depth in bioethics, which is a priority of ours."
She said Penn is particularly interested in bioethics because "life sciences have never been more important both to our country and the world, and there's obviously huge challenges surrounding medical care, medical research . . . and Zeke Emanuel is an expert in the whole range of knowledge and understanding that's needed to tackle these problems."
Emanuel will take on administrative duties, continue his scholarly work, and teach students from undergraduates up. "He's got enormous breadth of knowledge and he has seemingly limitless energy," Gutmann said.
Emanuel was founding chair of the department of bioethics at the Clinical Center of the National Institutes of Health.
He received an M.D. degree in 1988 and a Ph.D. degree in political philosophy in 1989 from Harvard University. He taught at Harvard between 1992 and 1997.
Contact staff writer Stacey Burling at 215-854-4944 or firstname.lastname@example.org.