Shai Lavi, the director of the Van Leer Jerusalem Institute, is a professor in the Faculty of Law at Tel Aviv University, the director of the Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics, and the co-director of the Minerva Center for the Study of End of Life. He earned his first and second degrees in law and sociology at Tel Aviv University and his doctorate in law at the University of California, Berkeley. His area of specialization is the sociology of law and legal theory; he explores bioethical issues from historical and contemporary perspectives, with an emphasis on the use of technology in the beginning of life and at its end. He also engages in comparative research—in Germany, Turkey, and Israel—on issues related to legal regulation of the body and the tension between religion and secularity.
Prof. Lavi is a member of the National Helsinki Committee (IRB) for Medical Research of Israel’s Ministry of Health. His book on the end of life, The Modern Art of Dying: A History of Euthanasia in the United States, won the 2006 Sociology of Law Distinguished Scholarly Book Award of the American Sociological Association. Prof. Lavi has received a Fulbright Fellowship, the Zeltner Prize for young scholars in law, a grant to establish the Minerva Center for Interdisciplinary Studies of the End of Life, and a research grant from GIF, the German-Israeli Foundation for Scientific Research and Development, to study bioethics and society in Israel, Turkey, and Germany. He has been a visiting professor at Cornell University, the University of Toronto, Yeshiva University in New York, and Humboldt University of Berlin.