Johan C. Bester

Director of Bioethics, UNLV School of Medicine
Assistant Professor of Family Medicine
Expertise: Vaccines, Bioethics, Clinical Ethics, Medical Education


Johan Bester is an expert on ethical aspects of vaccinations, bioethics, medical education, and pediatric ethics. Bester has studied issues around vaccination ethics and policy, including informed consent, moral decision making and public health ethics. Bester's research specialties include clinical ethics practice, bioethical analysis, and ethics of vaccinations with an emphasis on the measles vaccination.

A former physician, Bester completed medical training in South Africa, and practiced family and emergency medicine for 12 years in a variety of settings, including South Africa, the United Kingdom, and Canada. Prior to joining UNLV School of Medicine, Bester was a clinical assistant professor at the University of Calgary, where he developed and delivered ethics curriculum and workshops. In 2016, Bester completed a year of fellowship training in clinical ethics at the Cleveland Clinic in Cleveland, Ohio, and spent an additional year on staff as a clinical ethicist. He taught bioethics in the medical school and medical center, engaged in bioethics scholarship and publication, and provided ethics consultations. 

Bester's research has been published in the Journal of Bioethical Inquiry, JAMA Pediatrics, AMA Journal of Ethics, and the American Journal of Bioethics, among others.


  • MB.Ch.B., Medicine and Surgery, Stellenbosch University
  • Ph.D., Philosophy, Stellenbosch University
  • M.Phil., Philosophy, Stellenbosch University

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Johan C. Bester In The News

Las Vegas Sun
September 27, 2020
Las Vegas health officials are confident they’ll be prepared to rapidly administer an eventual coronavirus vaccine. They are less confident that people will take it.
September 18, 2020
As the search continues for a safe and effective vaccine against the coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2, that causes COVID-19, 3 experts have weighed in on a question that has been on many parents’ minds: Will schools make any future vaccine mandatory for children?
KSNV-TV: News 3
November 26, 2019
Should the measles vaccination be mandatory? Is there a moral responsibility for a parent to get their children vaccinated?
September 6, 2019
If your child attends school or day care, you probably know vaccines are required for attendance. But you might not realize some rules have recently changed in certain areas. For example, this year New York state stopped allowing families to take a religious exemption to vaccines required for school. California vaccine law also stopped allowing religious exemptions in 2015.

Articles Featuring Johan C. Bester

A medical syringe
ResearchMay 1, 2020
UNLV’s Director of Bioethics explores whether vaccine-refusing parents will reconsider their beliefs in light of COVID-19.
PeopleJanuary 22, 2020
Medical ethicist Dr. Johan Bester on the balance between public health and the individual’s rights and questions on parental authority and the obligation of physicians to protect society.
UNLV professor Matthew Lachniet works in his lab on campus.
PeopleDecember 27, 2019
A collection of stories highlighting UNLV faculty and students who made the news in 2019.
collage of 8 people
PeopleJuly 10, 2019
Charter class at School of Medicine starts moving into clinical training.