Van Rensselaer Potter

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Van Rensselaer Potter II (August 27, 1911 – September 6, 2001) was an American biochemist. He was professor of oncology at the McArdle Laboratory for Cancer Research at the University of Wisconsin–Madison for more than 50 years.

In 1970, Dr. Potter coined the term bioethics to describe a new philosophy that sought to integrate biology, ecology, medicine, and human values. Bioethics is often linked to environmental ethics and stands in sharp contrast to biomedical ethics. Because of this confusion (and appropriation of the term in medicine), Potter chose to use the term global bioethics in 1988. Awarded the Pfizer Award in Enzyme Chemistry in 1947.



  • Bioethics: Bridge to the Future (Prentice-Hall, 1971)
  • Global Bioethics: Building on the Leopold Legacy (Michigan State Univ Pr 1988) ISBN 0-87013-264-4

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