Bioethics Week

May 4, 2011

Johns Hopkins Berman Institute of Bioethics 
Media Contact: Michael Pena
May 4, 2011

Johns Hopkins bioethics institute debuts new campus home during weeklong commemoration of its mission.

Johns Hopkins University will dedicate the week of May 9 to recognizing the central importance of ethics to biomedical research, public-health policy and everyday clinical practice. “Bioethics Week” will feature talks that shed new light on past controversies in human experimentation, discuss ethical leadership of scientific agencies, plus other special events open to the public.

On Tuesday, May 10, the university will celebrate the new and first permanent home for the institute on campus that is devoted exclusively to examining the many complex challenges that the cross-disciplinary field seeks to unravel. At 5 p.m., the Johns Hopkins Berman Institute of Bioethics will debut “Deering Hall,” a 19th century buildingwhose completely renovated interior gives the Institute its first dedicated space since it opened in 1995.

Some emerging issues that Institute faculty are focusing on include the underlying ethics of reforming health care in America, the effects of social media and mobile technology on patient care, the behavioral impact of direct-to-consumer DNA testing, the increasing depiction of bioethical issues in television and popular culture, and the ethical conduct of international biomedical research.

“Deering Hall will serve as a home at Johns Hopkins for our efforts to conduct cutting-edge, multidisciplinary research and train the next generation of leaders in bioethics,” says Berman Institute Director Ruth Faden, Ph.D., M.P.H. “This is where ideas and inspiration will start, and where our faculty throughout the university will come together to address some of the toughest ethical questions that medicine, science and society faces.”

Bioethics Week kicks off on Monday, May 9, with two talks by renowned medical historian Susan Reverby, whose painstaking research of the Tuskegee syphilis study led to the recent revelation that U.S. public health officials also conducted profoundly unethical venereal-disease experiments on Guatemalans in the late 1940s. Reverby will give a midday lecture at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health on the significance of those experiments today. Lunch will be served.

Then at 4 p.m. that day, Reverby will discuss the ongoing mistrust of medical research that started with Tuskegee. This talk will be held off campus, in the East Baltimore headquarters for the charity organization Humanim, at 1701 N. Gay St.

On Thursday, May 12, Maryland’s Secretary of Health and Mental Hygiene, Joshua Sharfstein, M.D., will deliver a public lecture, “Striking the Right Balance: The Ethics of Political Leadership of Scientific Agencies.” Sharfstein, who previously served as Deputy Principal Commissioner of the FDA by appointment of President Obama, will speak at 5 p.m. at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine’s Armstrong Medical Education Building. A reception will follow.

The Berman Institute’s open house on May 10 will be from 5 to 7 p.m. Built at the time of America’s centennial, the historic structure originally served as a Baltimore police station. The 11,000-square-foot brick building sits on the northwestern edge of the Johns Hopkins East Baltimore campus, at 1809 Ashland Ave. Berman Institute faculty and staff will be on hand to greet guests and give tours.

The Institute has named its new home Deering Hall, in honor of the vital support provided by Lynn Deering, a leader of the Institute’s National Advisory Board, and her husband, University Trustee Tony Deering.

“My husband Tony and I believe that all the medical research in the world won’t make a difference if we are not simultaneously developing the insight, compassion, and ethical clarity to always serve the interests of the patients and their families above all else,” Lynn Deering says. “Speaking for the both of us, we are immensely proud that our name will be associated with the amazing faculty and wonderful work that occurs in this new home of the Berman Institute of Bioethics.

“What happens here will be felt not just in the East Baltimore community, but throughout the university and all around the world,” Deering adds.

The Berman Institute consists of more than 30 faculty members, many with appointments in the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, the Bloomberg School of Public Health, the School of Nursing, and the Krieger School of Arts and Sciences. Since the Institute’s founding in 1995, faculty have published well over 1,000 articles and more than a dozen books on subjects ranging from informed consent and neuroethics to the tube feeding of the advanced elderly.

For more information about Bioethics Week and the Berman Institute’s faculty and initiatives, go to

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