October 17, 2011

Johns Hopkins bioethicist honored for work on social justice issues in health policy

Ruth Faden, founding director of the Johns Hopkins Berman Institute of Bioethics and an authority on research ethics and social justice considerations in health policy, is the recipient of this year’s Lifetime Achievement Award given by the American Society for Bioethics and Humanities. The award was presented Oct. 15 during the organization’s annual meeting in Minneapolis.

Faden is the Philip Franklin Wagley Professor of Biomedical Ethics at Johns Hopkins and taught what is believed to be the first public health ethics course in the country. She also is a senior research scholar at Georgetown University’s Kennedy Institute of Ethics.

Johns Hopkins President Ronald J. Daniels lauded Faden’s leadership at the Berman Institute. “She has been able to pull from all corners of this university to welcome the participation of each of our divisions, and to train the next generation of bioethicists,” he said. “The results of her fervent effort represent the best of what a great university has to offer our society.”

Jeremy Sugarman, the Harvey M. Meyerhoff Professor of Bioethics and Medicine at the Berman Institute, who helped nominate Faden for the honor, said, “Her contributions as a scholar include pioneering work on the conceptual bases of informed consent, as well as on ethics and public health. She also has held leadership positions on numerous commissions, committees and projects that led to highly effective policy guidance on the most controversial areas of biomedical and life science research.”

Sugarman also praised Faden for her mentorship. “Dozens and dozens of renowned scholars in bioethics, both within the U.S. and abroad, likely would point to Ruth as having been influential in their professional growth, and would underscore the countless hours she was willing to spend mentoring, reviewing papers and having phone conversations about future career steps.”

Faden has authored and edited many books and articles on biomedical ethics and health policy, including Social Justice: The Moral Foundations of Public Health and Health Policy (with Madison Powers), A History and Theory of Informed Consent (with Tom L. Beauchamp), AIDS, Women and the Next Generation (edited with Gail Geller and Madison Powers) and HIV, AIDS and Childbearing: Public Policy, Private Lives (edited with Nancy Kass).

A member of the Institute of Medicine and a fellow of the Hastings Center and the American Psychological Association, Faden has served on numerous national advisory committees and commissions, including the President’s Advisory Committee on Human Radiation Experiments, which she chaired. She is a co-founder of the Hinxton Group, a global community committed to advancing ethical and policy challenges in stem cell science, and of the Second Wave project, an effort to ensure that the health interests of pregnant women are fairly represented in biomedical research and drug and device policies.

Faden’s research focuses on questions of social justice in health policy and global health. Her work also addresses ethical challenges in biomedical research and innovation, and in women’s health. Her scholarship related to social justice concentrates on national and global challenges in pandemic influenza planning and response, vaccine policy and funding, health systems design, and access to the benefits of global investments in biomedical research.