December 12, 2011

Bioethicist Ruth Faden receives lifetime achievement award

Ruth Faden, founding director of the Johns Hopkins Berman Institute of Bioethics, is a co-recipient with her husband, bioethicist Tom L. Beauchamp, of the Lifetime Achievement Award for Excellence in Research Ethics from Public Responsibility in Medicine and Research.

The award, presented Dec. 3 at the 2011 Advancing Ethical Research Conference at the Gaylord Hotel in National Harbor, Md., is given for work that has “embodied a unique and profound commitment to advancing research ethics.” Past recipients include Jay Katz, Charles McCarthy, Robert Levine and Al Jonsen.

“Ruth and Tom are respected leaders, visionary thinkers and role models to us all,” said Joan Rachlin, executive director of PRIM&R. “Those in the bioethics field have already benefited, and will continue to benefit, from their individual and collective wisdom and experience.”

In addition to her leadership of the Berman Institute since 1995, Faden is the Philip Franklin Wagley Professor of Biomedical Ethics, a professor in the Department of Health Policy and Management at the Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health and a professor in the Department of Medicine at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.

“I am thrilled to be a recipient of this award,” said Faden, who taught what is believed to be the first public health ethics course in the country. “It is an extraordinary honor, and extraordinary to be sharing it with my husband. Scholarship on the ethics of research is one of the core strengths of the Berman Institute, and if my work is worthy of recognition, it is because I have such wonderfully talented colleagues.”

Among their extensive collaborative work and individual achievements, Faden and Beauchamp co-authored A History and Theory of Informed Consent, which was published by Oxford University Press in 1986 and is still widely regarded as the most authoritative and comprehensive work on informed consent.

“I can think of no more fitting recipients of the PRIM&R Lifetime Achievement Award than Ruth Faden and Tom Beauchamp,” noted Jeffery Kahn, who joined the Berman Institute as deputy director for policy and administration earlier this year after serving as director of the bioethics program at the University of Minnesota medical school. “Their scholarship in the ethics of research on human subjects is the most important of the last 30 years, and a testament to the power of collaboration by two scholars of immense individual talent and insight.”

Kahn said that Faden and Beauchamp’s “seminal book on informed consent is as fresh and relevant today as it was when it was published in 1986, and is but one example of their landmark contributions to our field.”

In October, Faden was honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Society for Bioethics and Humanities for her work on social justice issues in health policy.