Aasim Padela Wins 2012 Islamic Medical Ethics Award

Aasim Padela Wins 2012 Islamic Medical Ethics Award

January 23, 2013

Aasim Padela, MD, was awarded the 2012 Ibn Sina Award from the Compassionate Care Network of Chicago for his outstanding work and contributions in the field of Islamic medical ethics.

The director of the Initiative on Islam and Medicine and a faculty member of the MacLean Center for Clinical Medical Ethics, Padela was honored for his scholarship in the Islamic ethico-legal tradition and the ways it influences the health behaviors of Muslim patients and the lives of Muslim physicians.

The award is named after Ibn Sina, also known as Avicenna, a Muslim physician philosopher whose work in the field of medicine influenced science through the Middle Ages. "Ibn Sina was a man who was deep into Islamic theology and deeply committed to improving medical care," said Azher Quader, MD, executive director of the Compassionate Care Network (CCN). "I believe we have in Dr. Padela a man similarly skilled."

Specifically, Padela's empirical research examines the ways in which religious beliefs, values and identities affect the health care decisions of American Muslims, as well as the health care inequalities they face. The aim of this research is to improve the health and health care of American Muslim patients.

In this vein, Padela is working with the Council of Islamic Organizations of Greater Chicago to investigate the influence of religion-related factors on breast cancer-screening practices in the local Muslim community.

His applied Islamic bioethics scholarship focuses on how modern scientific data are incorporated within, and can be used in, traditional Islamic moral reasoning and scholastic theology. This work aims to provide intellectual and practical resources to help American Muslims draw upon the assets of modern medicine faithfully, both as practitioners and as patients.

To this end, Padela works with traditional Islamic jurisconsults at Darul Qasim, an Islamic institute, and the Tabah Foundation. He also co-directed a landmark conference titled, "Where Religion, Bioethics, and Policy Meet: An Interdisciplinary Conference on Islamic Bioethics and End-of-Life Care," which brought together scholars, religious leaders, social scientists, health professionals and other stakeholders to discuss Islamic law, bioethics, medicine and health policy in the American context

Ibn Sina's "Canon of Medicine," completed in 1025, was a compilation of all the known medical science of his day. It served as a key reference source for the practice of medicine into the 19th century. In addition to the "Canon," Ibn Sina authored another influential work, the "Book of Healing," which addresses larger questions about the philosophy of science, logic, the mind and body relationship, and how scientific quests are related to the knowledge of god and spirituality.

"Medicine may nowadays be seen as a secular art and science, but healing in its truest sense may require us as physicians to exhibit more 'godliness,' " said Padela, an emergency medicine physician.

Padela is the 2012-14 Templeton Foundation Faculty Scholar, studying the theological and ethical roots of the physician-healer in Islam and how Muslim physicians express their personal and religious identities in America.

He was a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Clinical Scholar at the University of Michigan from 2008 to 2011, and continues to be a fellow at the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding in Washington, D.C., working to understand the role religion plays in the health behaviors and health care challenges of the American Muslim community.

Padela has undergraduate degrees in biomedical engineering and classical Arabic and literature from the University of Rochester. Following a medical degree from Weill Cornell Medical College in New York City in 2005, he did his residency in emergency medicine at the University of Rochester. He was also a visiting fellow in the Oxford Centre for Islamic Studies in 2010.

Compassionate Care Network is a not-for-profit organization founded in 2004 that conducts free health screenings around the Chicago area and offers reduced cost access to health care for the uninsured.