A national group has named an Assistant Professor in the Department of Vascular Surgery at the University of Wisconsin a fellow.

The Institute of Medicine of the National Academies, the group which awarded Dr. Margaret Schwarze with the fellowship, provides advice and information to the public on bioethical medical issues, Schwarze said. She was one of only two applicants chosen for the fellowship.

Medical bioethicists are divided into two basic groups – those that work on clinical issues in hospitals, and those that work in “global-type” bioethics and policy, she said.

Schwarze works with the former, specifically studying how doctors interact with their patients and how they make decisions regarding life threatening illnesses.

“It has many potential benefits for members of the UW community and also for patients, given the critical nature of the decision-making process for surgery,” Schwarze said.

The fellowship will allow Schwarze to make her academic work into national policy, she said.

“The whole idea of the Institute of Medicine is that it takes academic projects, research, and publications and turns it into policy,” Schwarze said.

She added the Institute relies on purely academic work to make policy decisions without political bias.

Schwarze said the fellowship probably would not impact her work at UW, especially her work and teaching schedules.

Although Schwarze said the fellowship would not impact patients at UW Hospital immediately, she said in the long run there would be a good potential to help UW translate some of her academic work into policy.

Schwarze was nominated for the fellowship by Alta Charo, a professor in the UW Law School, because the work Schwarze does.

“To have a woman who is both a surgeon and a clinical bioethicist is something that is unique in the United States,” Charo said. “This is a combination that is quite unusual, and provides a different perspective on the issues than the ones we usually get.”

She added that the Institute fellowship was a chance to interact with some of the best bioethicists in the world.

The second doctor who received the fellowship was professor Seth Glickman from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.