About the Fellowship

The mission of the 3-year Penn Postdoctoral Training Program in the Ethical, Legal and Social Implications (ELSI) of Genetics and Genomics, supported by a training grant from the National Human Genome Research Institute, is to prepare young scholars for success as creative, independent investigators in the field of ELSI research. Fellows will participate fully in the life of the Department of Medical Ethics and Health Policy, which is among the world’s leading bioethics departments, and will engage with the outstanding genetic medicine, science and ELSI communities at Penn. Fellows will receive a generous annual stipend, benefits, and funds for academic books and travel. When appropriate to their prior training and career goals, ELSI fellows will pursue a Master of Science in Medical Ethics to prepare them to compete for external funding in ELSI research. Steven Joffe, MD, MPH directs the Fellowship; Pamela Sankar, PhD serves as Associate Director.

The Fellowship Experience

1. Mentored research: Working with one or more faculty mentors, Fellows will conduct original empirical and conceptual research intended to lead to the publication of at least 2 manuscripts in top-tier peer-reviewed journals.

2. When appropriate to their prior training and career goals, ELSI fellows will pursue a Master of Science in Medical Ethics (MSME). Fellows who are not pursuing a degree will have the option to take selected methods courses that meet identified training needs. All fellows will take a course in the ELSI of genomics.

3. Fellows will participate in a weekly core bioethics proseminar led by the Fellowship Director and other faculty.

4. Training in genetic medicine and science: Fellows without prior coursework in genomic medicine and science will participate in Genetic Foundations of Disease at the Perelman School of Medicine or an analogous course through Penn’s new Masters Program in Genetic Counseling.

5. Department seminars: Fellows will participate in and present work at department seminars, including sessions focused on works-in-progress and presentations by department and affiliated faculty.

6. Institutional review board experience: Fellows will serve as a member of an institutional review board (IRB) at the University of Pennsylvania.

7. Clinical shadowing: Fellows will shadow physicians and genetic counselors in various genetics-related clinics at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania and the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. Fellows will also shadow clinicians in a Penn-affiliated medical intensive care unit.


Applications are invited from scholars with doctoral degrees in hand (MDs, PhDs or equivalent), or who will receive such degrees by May of the year in which they apply to the fellowship. Doctorates may be in any relevant field, including but not limited to the life sciences, philosophy, political science, psychology, sociology, economics or anthropology. Prior experience in bioethics is not required. In addition, applicants must be U.S. citizens or permanent residents. Scholars from historically underrepresented groups, scholars from low-income households, scholars who are first-generation college graduates, and scholars with disabilities are especially encouraged to apply.

Applications for the entering class of 2021 will open October 1, 2020.
Application Deadline: December 2, 2020.
Included in application requirements:

  • Personal statement (maximum of 1200 words)
  • CV
  • Writing Sample (published or unpublished for which you were the lead or solo author. Maximum 6 journal pages or 15 manuscript pages)
  • 2 letters of recommendation. For clinicians in training: a 3rd letter of recommendation from your program director.

For additional information, please contact:

Emily Walters
Administrative Coordinator

Note: Fellows participating in this program incur a payback requirement. After completing the first year of the program, fellows must spend a year pursuing health-related research, teaching or service in order to fulfill this requirement. Completion of the second year of the program is adequate to fulfill the payback requirement.



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