Twenty years ago, Ruth Faden, PhD, MPH, transformed an interest group of faculty dispersed across Johns Hopkins University into the Berman Institute of Bioethics, which now has over 35 faculty, 25 staff, and alumni that fill leadership positions in the field. Dr. Faden will step aside as the institute’s Director on June 30, 2016. She will retain her faculty position as the Philip Franklin Wagley Professor of Biomedical Ethics, with a full academic portfolio, and a new Andreas C. Dracopoulos Director will take the helm of the Berman Institute.


“I have been incredibly fortunate in my professional life at Johns Hopkins to be able to form a community with so many insightful, passionate colleagues committed to building a more ethical world,” Dr. Faden says. “And I am incredibly fortunate, yet again, to be able to move on to the next stage of my career with the certain knowledge that the Berman Institute’s future is secure, and in exactly the right place for the second Dracopoulos Director to lead it successfully into a third decade.”


In an email to university faculty and staff, Johns Hopkins University President Ronald J. Daniels and Provost Robert C. Lieberman wrote:


“Without Dr. Faden’s vision, scholarship, determination, and leadership, what we know today as the Berman Institute of Bioethics would not exist. She is the institute’s founding director, and her international reputation as a scholar and leader in bioethics has added great luster to the reputation of both the institute and the university.”


During Dr. Faden’s tenure, the Berman Institute has grown into one of the world’s largest bioethics programs; with most of its interdisciplinary faculty having cross-appointments in Johns Hopkins’ schools of Medicine, Nursing, Public Health, Arts and Sciences, or Advanced International Studies. The faculty includes some of the most distinguished senior scholars in the field, as well as a deep and wonderful community of newer, emerging leaders. The faculty produces first-rate scholarship in clinical ethics, ethics and public health and health policy, ethics and biomedical science, global bioethics, and research ethics. Bioethics education and training opportunities are offered to students at every level. The Berman Institute sponsors or co-sponsors an undergraduate minor, a master’s degree, PhD training, postdoctoral training, and certificate programs. Many graduates of these programs, including over 50 post-doctoral fellows, have assumed leadership positions in the public, private, academic and charitable sectors.


The President and Provost have noted Dr. Faden’s work with the Berman Institute’s Advisory Board to establish a physical home for the institute in Deering Hall, a historical landmark in East Baltimore. A free-standing building for a university bioethics community is rare, and representative of the environment Dr. Faden has sought to foster. In addition to monthly faculty meetings and quarterly research retreats, the Berman Institute hosts a “community lunch” monthly for all its faculty, staff and students, as well as twice-monthly seminars on bioethics issues, open to all.


In 2014, the Berman Institute became the first bioethics center to have an endowed directorship, made possible by a gift from the long-time institute supporter and board member for whom it is named, Andreas C. Dracopoulos. The endowed directorship secured the future of the Berman Institute beyond Dr. Faden’s tenure as Director.


“Dr. Faden has spent her entire career passionately committed to dealing with ethical challenges in the biomedical science field and in women’s health,” Mr. Dracopoulos said in his speech at a ceremony installing Dr. Faden as the first Andreas C. Dracopoulos Director. “I am honored to have been a member of the National Advisory Board of the Berman Institute for almost 15 years now, honored to count everyone at the institute as a friend, very grateful to have been blessed in my own personal life to be able to express my gratitude with this personal contribution which is nothing more than a simple acknowledgment of how far Ruth has taken the institute and how promising its future is both within the Hopkins family and within society at large.”


“I am convinced that, more than ever, ethics is absolutely central to the great challenges facing humanity,” Dr. Faden says. “I am confident that the Berman Institute is well positioned to address these challenges, and I am delighted to continue as a member of this distinguished faculty moving forward.”

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Leah Ramsay

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