Debra Mathews , Ph.D., M.A., the Berman Institute’s assistant director for science programs, has been awarded one of three coveted spots in the Greenwall Foundation’s Faculty Scholar Program in Bioethics.

Mathews, also an assistant professor of pediatrics at Johns Hopkins University, will begin her research this summer, focusing on ethical issues raised by implantable brain-interfacing devices that are used to treat disorders of movement and mood—devices ranging from cochlear implants and prosthetic limbs to deep-brain stimulation (DBS).

The first phase of her project will be to collect data, via qualitative empirical methods, on the experiences and views of DBS clinicians and scientists, as well as the views of patients and caregivers. Mathews will then develop an ethical framework for this class of emerging technologies that could then be used to guide practice, policy and research.

The other faculty scholars are Jennifer Blumenthal-Barby, Ph.D., an assistant professor of medical ethics at Baylor College of Medicine, and Jon Tilburt, M.D., an assistant professor of biomedical ethics at the Mayo Clinic. Tilbert and Mathews were both part of the Greenwall Fellowship Program’s 2002-04 cohort.

The Greenwall Faculty Scholar Program in Bioethics is designed to allow junior faculty to carry out original research on policy and moral dilemmas at the intersection of ethics and the life sciences, supporting their work over three years. Based in New York City, the foundation is one of the leading independent supporters of bioethics scholarship.

Mathews is a core faculty member at the Berman Institute. She focuses on the intersection of science, public policy and society, particularly in the areas of neuroscience, emerging technologies and stem cell research.

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