About AST

Member Spotlight

Name: Elisa J. Gordon, PhD, MPH
Speciality: Ethical issues in organ transplantation and donation, focusing on developing and evaluating culturally tailored interventions to improve informed consent and reduce health disparities.
Graduated from: Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio (PhD), University of Chicago (Postdoc), University of Illinois at Chicago (MPH)
Current Position: Professor in the Department of Surgery -- Division of Transplantation at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine
Current Projects: I am actively working on 3 NIH R01s, 2 DOD grants as PI, and other projects. One R01 aims to develop ethical guidelines on first-in-human clinical trials for xenotransplantation. Another R01 aims to integrate a culturally tailored APOL1 genetic testing and counseling program into living kidney donor clinical evaluation for donor candidates of African ancestry.
What made you decide to work in transplantation? As a medical anthropologist, I was originally drawn to questions that transplantation raises about what it means to be human (i.e., What counts as the end of life?, What is the boundary between self and other?, How does receiving an organ affect patients’ relationships with donors?), and how ethical issues and the approaches to resolving them vary by cultural beliefs and values.
What do you find to be the most valuable aspect of your work?  I love revealing tacit assumptions that people take for granted. That way, we can modify those assumptions to improve health and health care.  I also really like producing deliverables (e.g., website, mobile app, conversational chatbot), that can be used to improve clinical care, patient education, or inform health policy.
How have you served AST? I’ve served the AST in several ways:  I currently serve as Co-Chair of the Psychosocial and Ethics Community of Practice (Go PSECOP!), and I served on the IDEAL (Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, & Access to Life) Task Force. I am so grateful for the connections to new colleagues (now friends) that I’ve made while serving to improve patient care.
Fun Fact: One hidden talent is that I cut my husband’s hair. The Great British Baking Show continues to inspire me to try new ideas. I made an amazingly delicious caramelized onion, leek, pear, and gorgonzola cheese tart at last year’s Thanksgiving.  Can’t wait to try it again!