LeRoy Walters, Ph.D.
Joseph P. Kennedy, Sr. Professor of Christian Ethics at the Kennedy Institute of Ethics and Professor of Philosophy at Georgetown University
Dr. Walters was born in Illinois and spent his elementary and secondary school years in Pennsylvania. He attended a small Pennsylvania liberal-arts college, Messiah College, receiving his B.A. in 1962. After finishing a B.D. degree at the Associated Mennonite Seminaries in 1965, Dr. Walters studied for two years in Germany, one year at the University of Heidelberg and one year at the Free University of Berlin. While in Berlin, he also helped to organize East-West conferences in East Berlin, the German Democratic Republic, Czechoslovakia, and Poland.
In 1967 Dr. Walters returned to the United States and began a Ph.D. program in the Department of Religious Studies at Yale University. He finished his Ph.D. in Christian ethics in the spring of 1971, writing his dissertation on the topic "Five Classic Just-War Theories: A Study in the Thought of Thomas Aquinas, Vitoria, Suarez, Gentili, and Grotius." His dissertation received the Theron Rockwell Field Prize from the university.
During the summer of 1971, Dr. Walters joined the newly-established Joseph and Rose Kennedy Institute of Ethics and its Director, André Hellegers, as the first faculty member appointed to a multi-year term. He has remained a member of the Kennedy Institute since 1971. In 1993, he was named the Joseph P. Kennedy, Sr. Professor of Christian Ethics at the Kennedy Institute. During the summer of 1996 he accepted a three-year term as Director of the Kennedy Institute. He served as director through June 2000.
Since 1975 Dr. Walters has been the editor and co-editor (with Joy Kahn and Doris Mueller Goldstein) of the annual Bibliography of Bioethics (35 volumes to date). He is also co-editor (with Tom L. Beauchamp, Jeffrey P. Kahn, and Anna C. Mastroianni) of Contemporary Issues in Bioethics (7th ed., Wadsworth, 2008) and co-author (with Julie Gage Palmer) of The Ethics of Human Gene Therapy (Oxford University Press, 1997).
Much of Dr. Walters's research has been devoted to ethical issues in human genetics. In the past he taught courses on "Ethics and Human Genetics" and "Eugenics and Ethics." He also served for three terms on the Recombinant DNA Advisory Committee of the National Institutes of Health. From 1993 through 1996 he served as Chair of the committee, which reviews human-gene-therapy protocols.
Since 2003, Dr. Walters has devoted major attention to Holocaust Studies and to the "euthanasia" program initiated in 1939 under National Socialism. He has conducted detailed research on one major opponent of "euthanasia," asylum director Paul Gerhard Braune. He also does research on the life and thought of German theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer.
A continuing interest in Dr. Walters's work has been the development of a bioethics library. The Kennedy Institute library, now called the Bioethics Research Library, is the largest collection of materials on biomedical ethics under one roof in the world.