Class of 1985
By Saleena Manoha
Malia Fullerton, an Assistant Professor of Medical History and Ethics at the University of Washington School of Medicine, teaches students the ethical side of human genetics. She is a bioethicist and teaches at the School of Public Health, where her students are working toward a masters or doctorate in public health genetics. Her research focuses on investigating the obligations that geneticists have toward their test subjects and patients. She looks carefully at the ways that experiments can help or hurt people and focuses on how to improve technology so that it increases the health and well being of everyone. As their professor, she mentors her medical students to be more humane physicians. She also helps oversee the ethical conduct of scientific and clinical research in the ever-changing field of genetic science. Some of the benefits of her job include meeting people across the country, working flexible hours and being her own boss.
Outside of “researching the research” of genetics, Malia has a life dedicated to her two-year old son. She also enjoys art and music, including choral singing. Malia lives in Seattle and says that living there is just like living in Hilo…green and rainy. Her sister still resides on the Big Island, so she visits often. She moved to Seattle in 2005 from Pennsylvania. She also studied and worked in England for nine years.
Malia is a 1985 graduate of Waiakea High School. Her favorite class was AP US History taught by Mrs. Helen Kobayashi, who always pushed her to write and think better, to be intellectually creative and to follow her interests and aspirations. Her advice to students is to “study what you enjoy and learn how to keep learning. Your interests will take you where you need to go.” Although many people working in bioethics begin with an undergraduate degree in philosophy, her own undergraduate degree is in biochemistry with a minor in religious studies from Occidental College in Los Angeles. Her PhD is in genetics.