External Review Report

Section 1: History and Mission of the Johns Hopkins Berman Institute of Bioethics

History of the Johns Hopkins Berman Institute of Bioethics

Johns Hopkins University President Bill Richardson established the (then) Bioethics Institute with the involvement of the deans of public health and medicine and several trustees in 1995.

The founding principles of the Institute were that the institute would be interdisciplinary and university-wide; the director would report to the President of the University through the Provost; by providing an integrated, interdisciplinary home for bioethics at the University, the Institute would be the only bioethics program at Johns Hopkins; and the University would make the Institute a priority for development so that philanthropic support would support the new institute’s financial stability.

The Bioethics Institute was formally launched after the appointment of University President William Brody in 1997 with Director Dr. Ruth Faden reporting to Provost Steven Knapp. Development support for the Bioethics Institute was initially provided by the Associate Dean for External Affairs of the School of Public Health and the Vice President for Development.

The Institute was named after Phoebe Berman in 2000, in recognition of a $6 million bequest, and was officially renamed the Johns Hopkins Berman Institute of Bioethics to reflect its university-wide nature. JHU President William Brody commemorated the Institute’s first decade as a university-wide institute when he declared April 16-20, 2007, as Bioethics Week.

Mission of the Berman Institute of Bioethics

The mission of the Johns Hopkins Berman Institute of Bioethics is to conduct advanced scholarship on the ethics of clinical practice, biomedical science, and public health, both locally and globally, and to engage students, trainees, the public, and policymakers in serious discourse about these issues.

Through an array of programs and projects, the Berman Institute has a direct, positive impact on the health and well-being of millions of people in developed and developing countries around the world. Its particular areas of focus encompass:

  • Advancing fair and compassionate healthcare;
  • Leading the charge for equitable and effective public health policies and practices;
  • Guiding the ethical development and use of new technologies;
  • Addressing disparities arising from global sustainability challenges;
  • Preparing the next generation of leaders in bioethics.
Section 2: The Berman Institute’s Historic Home

Deering Hall

The Berman Institute is one of the few university-based bioethics institutes to have its own building, providing a dedicated facility for faculty who hold appointments in other schools to gather, collaborate, and share expertise from diverse disciplines.

Deering Hall, located on the Johns Hopkins East Baltimore Medical Campus, has been home to the Berman Institute of Bioethics since 2011. The Institute’s 11,000-square-foot building, originally constructed in 1876, was formerly a police station and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It and the original Johns Hopkins Hospital complex are the only two remaining listed historical sites on the East Baltimore campus.

The Berman Institute is responsible for all costs associated with Deering Hall, including its original purchase and renovation, ongoing maintenance (contracted with the Bloomberg School of Public Health facilities management group), utilities, depreciation, etc.

Section 3: The Berman Institute Governance Structure

The Institute is an Academic and Cultural Center (ACC) of the university, which is a category for centers and institutes that do not reside organizationally in any one division (school).  ACCs are freestanding centers, institutes, and organizational units that report to the provost.  This status provides high-level reporting, university-wide status, and comes with administrative and financial responsibility.  ACCs cannot offer degrees or make tenure-home faculty appointments, both of which are reserved for divisions.

The Berman Institute is led by the Andreas C. Dracopoulos Director (Kahn) supported by a leadership team comprised of Associate Directors for Education Initiatives (Geller), Research and Programs (Mathews), and Global Programs (Ali), along with Deputy Director for Medicine (Sugarman), Public Health (Kass), and Clinical Ethics (Rushton and Carrese).  Operations are supported by a Director of Finance and Administration (Schultz) and Sr. Director of External Affairs (Rentschler).  In addition to programmatic leadership outlined, the Institute has an Appointment and Promotions Committee, and faculty affairs are overseen by the Institute Director.  The Director has regular meetings with groups of faculty leaders organized by programmatic area (education, research and programs, and specific content areas), as well as regular meetings with senior staff to manage operations and finances.

The Institute Director is advised by a National Advisory Board (NAB) which was established in 1995 and is currently comprised of 29 active board members and two emeritus board members.  Under university policy, the NAB has no fiduciary responsibilities, but fulfills its mission in the following ways:

  • To promote and advance the Institute’s leadership role in fulfilling its stated mission objectives;
  • To increase the Institute’s financial resources and expand its base of philanthropic support;
  • To advocate on behalf of the Institute to external and internal constituencies; and
  • To provide advice and support to the faculty leadership of the Institute with respect to strategic advice and priorities, funding support and relationship building.
Section 4: The Berman Institute's Strategic Planning Process and Goals

In 2017, the Berman Institute began a process to help identify how to best direct its strategic growth in the next five years.  That process was led by Institute Director Jeffrey Kahn and included input from various groups of faculty, staff, and key members of our National Advisory Board.

The process helped us identify five areas that should be focused on and invested in during the coming years.  Those areas include:

  1. Deepen our investment in existing programs;
  2. Entrepreneurially invest in new programs that will expand our footprint in the field;
  3. Develop a new approach to external communications and public-facing efforts to better promote the work that we do;
  4. Build additional space to allow us to expand our programs;
  5. Fortify our development efforts through an increased focus on the vitality of our National Advisory Board.

In the summer of 2020, during the national response to the Black Lives Matter movement and the death of George Floyd, the Berman community banded together to form a sixth overarching strategic goal, which is to help lead the University by being at the forefront of Johns Hopkins’ Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion efforts.

Listed below are a selection of ways in which the strategic planning process has made tangible impacts on academic and institutional priorities.

Berman Institute Goal #1:  Deepen our investment in existing programs

Global Infections Disease Ethics Collaborative Platform

Established a partnership on global health ethics with our counterpart program at the University of Oxford (Ethox Centre), the Global Infectious Disease Ethics (GLIDE) collaborative platform, a 5-year project funded by the Wellcome Trust started in 2019.  In addition to funding collaboration between faculty, trainees, and students at Oxford and JHU, it funds one postdoctoral fellow at each institution, travel for in-person meetings of GLIDE members, and allows us to co-host the Global Health Bioethics Conference at Oxford every other year.  We expect to deepen our work in this content area as a result of the success of the project and the importance of infectious disease ethics post-pandemic.

Center for Bridging Infectious Disease, Genomics, and Society (BRIDGES)

BRIDGES is a Center for Excellence in ELSI Research supported by the National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI) that was designed to examine the ethical, legal, social, historical and policy issues confronting the incorporation of genomics in the prevention, outbreak control, and treatment of a range of infectious diseases. Phase I of BRIDGES explored the ELSI issues that would arise in personalizing approaches to the prevention and treatment of selected infectious diseases using genomic information.  Phase I took place prior to COVID.

Phase 2 of BRIDGES was inspired by our rapidly evolving understanding of disease causation. There are a growing number of examples of “genetic diseases” with an infectious component, and of “infectious diseases” with a genetic component. The COVID pandemic has expanded the territory in which to explore the shifting boundaries between infectious disease and genetic disease, and between uses of emerging technologies. There were three components the BRIDGES project:

  • Deliberative – Identifying and analyzing issues and crafting research agendas focused on the implications of fluid boundaries between areas of science in the development and application of emerging technologies.
  • Conceptual – Characterizing the relationship and boundaries between infectious and genetic diseases, and the implications of the changing and overlapping nature of these boundaries for ELSI discourse, scholarship, and translation. 
  • Empirical – Engaging key stakeholders through surveys, interviews, and focus groups to understand their perspectives on the blurring boundary between infectious and genetic diseases.

Pandemic Ethics

Since the first days of the Covid-19 pandemic, the Berman Institute vaulted into action, striving to help shape an international public health response that is ethically informed as well as effective. Through years of experience and scholarship, and tested through multiple threatened and actual epidemics, Berman Institute faculty had led research to identify ethics principles that should guide the actions of governments and other institutions during the global crisis. Completed and ongoing projects include:

Digital Contact Tracing for Pandemic Response

In May 2020, Johns Hopkins released a comprehensive report to help governments, technology developers, businesses, institutional leaders and the public make responsible decisions around use of digital contact tracing technology (DCTT), including smartphone apps and other tools, to fight Covid-19.

In the first months following its release, Digital Contact Tracing for Pandemic Response—a report led by the Berman Institute in collaboration with colleagues across the university as well as leading experts worldwide—was published by Johns Hopkins University Press and downloaded more than 116,000 times by readers from 134 countries on six continents.

It highlights the ethical, legal, policy and governance issues that must be addressed as DCTT are developed and implemented. The report’s primary conclusions and recommendations advise that privacy should not outweigh public health goals and other values; that big technology companies should not unilaterally set terms when such broad public interests are at stake; and that decisions about the technology and its uses will have to be updated as new information becomes available.

Planning the Ethical Allocation and Distribution of Covid Vaccines

Berman Institute faculty co-authored a report providing an ethical framework for making decisions about allocation and distribution of a Covid-19 vaccine during the initial period when such a vaccine was first authorized for use and still in limited supply.

Released by the Center for Health Security at the Bloomberg School of Public Health, the report, Interim Framework for COVID-19 Vaccine Allocation and Distribution in the United States, proposed specific tiers of high-priority candidates for receiving a first vaccine based on this framework, including recognizing the contributions of essential workers who had previously been overlooked in previous allocation schemes.

Reopening Policy Tracker for K-12 Schools

A multidisciplinary team of Johns Hopkins University researchers, led by Berman Institute faculty in conjunction with the JHU School of Education, launched a website that provided a range of tools dedicated to assessing and guiding K-12 school reopening plans across the United States, including a School Reopening Policy Tracker that provided real-time analysis of the latest guidance documents from every state.

Tracking Global Policies on Covid Vaccination by Country

In response to the elevated risk of severe Covid-19 disease and death faced by pregnant people, Berman Institute faculty launched the Covid-19 Maternal Immunization Tracker (COMIT), an online resource to provide a global snapshot of public health policies that shape access to Covid-19 vaccines for pregnant and lactating people. COMIT is the first resource that provides a global snapshot of public health policies that influence access to Covid-19 vaccines for pregnant and lactating people, enabling users to explore policy positions by country and by vaccine product. Through maps, tables, and country profiles, COMIT provides regularly updated information on country policies as they respond to the dynamic state of the pandemic and emerging evidence.

Employing Greek Tragedy to Help Medical Professionals Cope with COVID

The Berman Institute partnered with Theater of War Productions and the Johns Hopkins Program in Arts, Humanities & Health to create Theater of War for Frontline Medical Providers, an innovative project utilizing the ancient art form of Greek tragedy to reach frontline medical workers struggling in isolation, providing them the opportunity to name and communalize their experiences, connect with colleagues, and access available resources. Via Zoom, acclaimed actors presented dramatic readings of scenes from ancient Greek plays for audiences of frontline medical providers as the prompt for guided conversations about complex ethical situations prompted by the pandemic.

Established Ruth R. Faden Fund for Education in Bioethics

In 2018, Alexander Levi, a trustee emeritus of Johns Hopkins University, and his wife Vicki established a bequest of $15 million to the Berman Institute that will create an endowment whose proceeds will support the education and training of future leaders in the field of bioethics.

The endowment will provide the following support to our existing education programs:

  • Ongoing permanent support to fully fund the Hecht-Levi Postdoctoral Fellowship Program;
  • Tuition scholarships for students in the Berman Institute’s Master of Bioethics Program;
  • Research and conference travel support for students in the doctoral track in Health Policy and Ethics;
  • Leadership training support for selected highly qualified visiting fellows through the Ruth Faden Scholars Program;

The Faden Fund has also received support from other donors, which has allowed the Berman Institute to begin offering scholarship support to MBE students before the bequest has been realized.

Berman Institute Goal #2:  Entrepreneurial investment in new programs that will increase the Institute’s contributions to the field

The Berman Institute is pursuing targeted growth in areas where existing faculty expertise and interests can be directed where university resources are being invested, and grants and philanthropy are possible.  These areas reflect advancing science and technology, and/or address critical threats to food security and the environment.

  • Neuroscience and Society – Building on a planning grant from the Dana Foundation, the Institute is seeking to develop a research and programmatic focus on neuroscience and society. Additional grants are being sought from Dana and other foundations, and BI work in this area will complement an effort to coordinate neuroscience work across the University labeled OneNeuro.
  • Ethics and AI – The BI recently recruited a new faculty member with expertise in ethics and AI (Kadija Ferryman) to add to a group within the BI with similar interests. The university has launched an effort to stake out areas in AI where Hopkins expertise could be most relevant, including AI and Society. Through the Bloomberg Distinguished Professorship (BDP) program, a cluster of faculty positions devoted to AI and Society will be recruited with at least one, if not more, endowed faculty positions to be appointed within the BI.
  • Climate Justice – Similarly, a BDP cluster in Climate and Health is recruiting faculty with expertise in climate justice, to be appointed within the BI.
  • Ethics, Law, Policy and the Life Sciences – The Institute has deep expertise and experience in working to address the ethical, legal, and policy issues arising in emerging life sciences technologies, and plans to pursue a program with this focus as part the university’s presence in our new building in Washington, DC (555 Penn). In addition to life sciences policy, 555 Penn will offer the opportunity for BI faculty and programs to pursue additional policy-focused work and to further build on our public-facing efforts.
  • Clinical Ethics – Our focus over the next five years is on an expansion of educational offerings through the creation of a Program for Clinical Ethics Excellence, which will attract philanthropic and institutional funds and become a national leader in clinical ethics teaching, research, and practice.

Berman Institute Goal #3:  Develop a new approach to external communications and public-facing efforts to better promote our work

A Redesigned Website

With the help an industry marketing expert, Stephen Palacios, who is a member of our National Advisory Board, in 2018 the Berman Institute launched a new website that achieves the dual goals of appearing contemporary and sophisticated to viewers while simultaneously enabling the small communications staff to keep it maintained on a daily basis with relatively limited technical coding demands.  With an average of more than 10,000 monthly visitors, the site is a vital communications vehicle for the Berman Institute, updated with news stories of faculty research, event promotion, faculty and student profiles, and serves as the primary student recruitment gateway.

New Marketing and Communications Language

In consultation with our faculty and with the assistance of a Marketing and Communications Task Force made up of members of our National Advisory Board, the Berman Institute undertook a brand messaging effort. Resulting in five key messages, the goal of this effort was to provide a shorthand that accurately and effectively reflects the Berman Institute’s key areas of effort, providing newcomers with an understanding of the complexities of bioethics and an appreciation of our faculty’s impact, and enabling Board members to explain and advocate for our work.

Public Bioethics and the Launching of the Dracopoulos-Bloomberg iDeas Lab

The dissemination of academic products in the 21st century requires different thinking, different approaches, and different technologies.  It will not suffice for us to pursue the increasingly important work of the Berman Institute if we do not have the infrastructure and approaches necessary to directly impact public discourse and public knowledge related to our work. That is why the concept of public-facing work in bioethics, and more widely, applied ethics, is so much of a core component of our next five years of growth and impact.  As we envision our growth into deeper and more diverse work in applied ethics, a Program in Public Bioethics must be thought of not simply as complementary or a useful addition, but as an essential component in the success of the work of the Institute.

Importantly, public-facing work is integral to the vision for the future and growth of the Berman Institute, fulfilling the stated goal of in the BI’s Strategic Direction document of “Increased presence in public discussion/public discourse/policy environment” in a way that will make the Berman Institute and Johns Hopkins the world leader in the communication and dissemination of ethics research, scholarship, and commentary to the public.  A programmatic focus on the public-facing aspects of our work will augment and complement the research output of the BI in foundational ways, creating a new area of programmatic excellence for the BI, and become a recruiting tool for both faculty and graduate students.  It has the support and endorsement of Johns Hopkins leadership as reflected in the approved Strategic Direction of the Institute and through Provost’s annual review and planning processes for the Institute.

The creation of the Dracopoulos-Bloomberg Bioethics iDeas Lab at the BI, named in recognition of Andreas C. Dracopoulos, a trustee of Johns Hopkins University and member of the Berman Institute of Bioethics’ national advisory board, and former chair of the University’s board of trustees Michael R. Bloomberg, is critical and giant first step in our Public Bioethics efforts. The Lab will enable the Berman Institute to pioneer new approaches for creating bioethics content, taking advantage of new media strategies, the latest media technologies, and innovative approaches to visualization of information and research results.

Additional investment in the iDeas Lab, as well as continued experimentation with its various dissemination approaches, will be a key feature of the Berman Institute’s vision going forward.

Berman Institute Goal #4:  Build additional space to allow us to expand our programs

We expect to occupy Henrietta Lacks Hall sometime in the 2025-2026 calendar years.  Lacks Hall will be a state-of-the-art 34,000-square-foot facility adjoining Deering Hall named in honor of the Baltimore woman who was the source of the HeLa cell line that has been critical to numerous advances in medicine.  Built in partnership between Johns Hopkins University, the Berman Institute, and Johns Hopkins Medicine, the building will support programs that enhance participation and partnership with members of the community in research that can benefit the community, as well as extend the opportunities to further study and promote research ethics and community engagement in research through an expansion of the Berman Institute and its work. In addition to flexible program and classroom space to support education and research, meeting space will also be made available for use by members of the East Baltimore community.

Berman Institute Goal #5:  Fortify our development efforts through an increased focus on the vitality of our National Advisory Board

The Institute’s development and communications staff, led by Andrew Rentschler, worked with Jeffrey Kahn and the Institute’s Board leadership over the past several years to create and implement a plan for steadily increasing philanthropy through expansion of our pool of donors. This effort includes working to expand our pool of annual fund donors, and most importantly increasing the size of the Institute’s Advisory Board in recognition of the outsized importance of Advisory Board members for major gifts and the need for more younger and more diverse members. We are far ahead of schedule in these efforts, having recruited and added eight new Advisory Board members in the past three years, diversifying our Board composition with younger and more ethnically diverse members from a wider range of backgrounds and from new regions of the country. We hope to add 2-3 additional board members in each new year with the expectation of 2-3 members rotating off the Board or resigning due to health reasons in any given year.

Berman Institute Goal #6:  Help lead the University by being at the forefront of Johns Hopkins’ Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion efforts

Throughout its history, the Berman Institute has been committed to diversity both institutionally and within the field of bioethics. In 2021, Berman launched an Inclusion, Diversity, Anti-Racism, and Equity (IDARE) Committee, charged with providing leadership on the integration of inclusion, diversity, anti-racism, and equity principles throughout the BI. Since its inception, the Committee has undertaken programming, a reading group, and surveyed the Berman Institute community to better understand how we can promote diversity and inclusion.

We continue to pursue the work of a five-year NIH grant received in 2019 to build a 15-month research mentorship program for undergraduate students from underrepresented groups and backgrounds to help diversify the pool of future researchers. Trainees learn research skills, build networks, and gain exposure to the range of possible training and career options in ELSI research. Through this program, the Institute hopes to contribute to the creation of a sustainable regional pipeline for the entry of these students into genomics as well as institutional structures and networks to support them over time, and we continue to work in partnership with University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC) and Howard University to develop pathways for students to pursue bioethics training with us.

During FY21 and 22, the Institute added two new faculty members, both of whom are women and one of whom is African American. We are hoping to recruit a new faculty member in partnership with the Bloomberg School of Public Health’s Department of International Health, and seek to fill an open position for a faculty with joint appointment in the BI and the Dept. of General Internal Medicine in the School of Medicine.  Both searches have a focus on diversity. Two of our six current PhD students are persons of color, as are more than half of the 24 students in our most recent Master of Bioethics cohort, and one of the two people who joined the Institute’s Advisory Board this year. In FY 22, three of our 14 fulltime staff were persons of color, including the Institute’s most recent Administrator, who moved in 2023 to a more senior position within the university.

Section 5: The Berman Institute’s Contributions to President Daniels’ Ten by Twenty Goals

In fall of 2012, President Ronald J. Daniels released a draft version of the Ten by Twenty — an articulation of the priorities for Johns Hopkins University through the remainder of the decade—and invited the university community to share their thoughts. Ten goals were organized under four overarching priorities: one university, individual excellence, commitment to our communities, and institution building.  Over the course of the last decade, the Berman Institute has helped to advance the University’s progress on multiple pan-institutional goals.

The Berman Institute has its own set of internal goals, listed above, some of which are our own, but some of which are matrixed into the Ten by Twenty Goals.  Below is a series of examples of how our Institute achievements overlap with and contribute to the advancement of the President’s vision.

Deepened Integration of the Work of the Berman Institute into Johns Hopkins Medicine (JHM)

Relates to Berman Institute goal #1 and Ten by Twenty Goal #3 (Enhance the impact of the world’s pre-eminent academic health sciences enterprise by deepening collaboration among these entities and with disciplines in other parts of the university and across the globe.)

Since our inception, the Berman Institute has invested considerable time and effort to further integrate bioethics education within School of Medicine (SOM) departmental training programs, and are now working towards a new faculty recruitment with the Division of General Internal Medicine (GIM) and an opportunistic addition of one and possibly two new GIM faculty with bioethics interests, and will work continue to increase collaboration across JHM on research projects as well as help to address ethics-related institutional policy issues.

We continue to focus our efforts by expanding educational offerings in departmental residency and fellowship programs, continued bioethics presence in clinical departments through invitational lectures, offers to speak to faculty and trainees, participation in and leadership of ad-hoc processes to address ethics-related institutional policy issues, and by prioritizing development efforts to raise philanthropic funds to support a major clinical ethics program.

In FY23, Johns Hopkins Hospital (JHH) agreed to increased funding to expand ethics teaching in clinical residency programs, allowing the use of additional philanthropic funding for our clinical ethics programs. Pandemic response has created a closer connection to JHH and JHM for numerous of our faculty, relationships that have led to joint publications and ongoing opportunities for collaboration.

Develop Growing Expertise and a Larger Research Portfolio in Global Ethics and Policy

Relates to Berman Institute Goal #2 and Ten by Twenty Goals #2 and #3, (Strengthen our capacity for faculty-led interdisciplinary collaboration and launch a set of innovative cross-cutting initiatives that will contribute substantially to the world of ideas and actions and Enhance the impact of the world’s pre-eminent academic health sciences enterprise by deepening collaboration among these entities and with disciplines in other parts of the university and across the globe.)

The Berman Institute has a long history of interaction with existing infectious disease-related projects across the enterprise, andcontinues to foster cross-pollination among faculty within the Berman Institute and across Hopkins who are interested in ethical and policy issues in infectious disease. In particular, our work on pandemic response created additional demand for collaboration in this area.

Starting in January 2021 we began work as part of a new trans-Atlantic collaboration with the Ethox Centre at Oxford funded by the Wellcome Trust focusing on ethics and global health with an initial focus on infectious disease (GLIDE: Global Infectious Disease Ethics Collaborative). The initial investment in the platform is GBP 2M shared between the BI and Oxford, with strong indication of additional investment in future years. The Co-PIs of GLIDE are in discussions with program area leaders at the Wellcome Trust about ongoing research needs related to infectious disease ethics and policy and how to partner with GLIDE and faculty at Hopkins, Oxford, and the network’s international partners.

Continue to Explore and Develop Projects as well as Deepen Policy Work that Expand the Focus Topic Areas of the Berman Institute

Relates to Berman Institute Goal #1 and #2 and Ten by Twenty Goals #2 and #3, (Strengthen our capacity for faculty-led interdisciplinary collaboration and launch a set of innovative cross-cutting initiatives that will contribute substantially to the world of ideas and actions and Enhance the impact of the world’s pre-eminent academic health sciences enterprise by deepening collaboration among these entities and with disciplines in other parts of the university and across the globe.)

In the past decade, the Berman Institute has expanded its work into a new Global Food Ethics and Policy Program (GFEPP),moving our research portfolio into new areas that haven’t traditionally been considered part of the bioethics discipline.  We have also expanded into areas new to the Berman Institute, most notably around ethical and policy issues related to emerging technologies in the life sciences, biomedical engineering, artificial intelligence and machine learning, and data analytics

Success in this area will be measured by continued growth of the GFEPP portfolio, both through increased number of projects and ongoing funding, and identification of divisional partners within Hopkins to foster collaborations among existing faculty and spur joint faculty recruitment to expand our work into ethical and policy issues related to emerging technologies. This is beginning to take shape through ongoing participation in the AI-X Initiative, and a recruitment with HPM of new faculty members with expertise in health data/big data (Ferryman) and ethics and public policy (Morain).

The GFEPP portfolio of projects will continue to grow and, with the BI’s participation in the BDP Climate cluster, we hope to add colleagues in the increasingly important areas of food, energy, water, and climate policy as they relate to ethics. We continue to build expertise and investment in ethics and emerging technologies, with Prof. Kadija Ferryman joining our faculty in a joint appointment between the Berman Institute and the Dept of Health Policy and Management in JHSPH as of July 2021, Debra Mathews leading the ethics and governance core in the IAA, the BI’s participation in the BDP AI and Society cluster, and the developing university-wide efforts of AI-X. Recent work funded by the Kavli Foundation (Boyd) and the Dana Foundation (Kahn, Boyd, Mathews) is establishing the Institute as a locus for research and programs in neuroscience and society.  These partnerships will expand the Institute’s research footprint and increase our research funding and intensity in a range of critically important areas.

Partner with Others Across the University to Build the Henrietta Lacks Building

Relates to Berman Institute Goal #4 and Ten by Twenty Goals #2 and #7, (Strengthen our capacity for faculty-led interdisciplinary collaboration and launch a set of innovative cross-cutting initiatives that will contribute substantially to the world of ideas and actions and Enhance and enrich our ties to Baltimore, the nation, and the world, so that Johns Hopkins becomes the exemplar of a globally engaged urban university.)

Starting before the pandemic, the Berman Institute worked with the University planning group, partners across Johns Hopkins, and the community on the completion of the feasibility study for the new Henrietta Lacks building at 1801 Ashland Avenue.  The project has continued to move forward, with expected groundbreaking in 2024 and occupancy in 2025-2026.

Be a University Leader in Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Efforts

Relates to Berman Institute Goal #6 and Ten by Twenty Goal #6:  (Attract the very best faculty and staff in the world through a welcoming and inclusive environment that values performance and celebrates professional achievement.

In 2020, the BI established an internal Committee on Inclusion, Diversity, Anti-Racism, and Equity (IDARE), charged with providing leadership on the integration of these principles throughout the BI and its programs. The BI IDARE Committee is committed to helping the BI engage in critical conversations about racism and other forms of oppression, exploring the ways such dynamics play out within our community, identifying what is required to align our actions with our values, and making clear, actionable recommendations for change and accountability to foster and build a strong, diverse community of scholars, staff, trainees, and students in which each member feels they belong and can thrive.

The Committee conducted a review of syllabi for all courses housed in the Berman Institute. This review assessed diversity and representation within course materials (readings, guest lectures, supplemental materials) and reviewed course subject matter with an eye to IDARE principles. This work informed the Committee’s first set of recommendations on education and training initiatives, which includes the development of two new courses covering race, disability, and gender in bioethics.

In December 2021, the Committee fielded a climate survey among the Institute’s current and former faculty, staff, and trainees to establish a baseline dataset and to identify specific challenges within the Berman Institute relevant to the topic areas contained in the University’s Diversity Roadmap. The survey assessed views of the community culture as a whole and asked about individual experiences with regard to IDARE principles in the contexts of work and education at the Institute. Survey results have been shared and discussed with the community in a series of open conversations focused on actions we can take to move forward from the data to create a culture and environment that aligns with our values. These conversations have and will inform recommendations made by the Committee. We hope that future culture surveys will measure progress on BI IDARE goals and will complement the University’s new Campus Climate Assessment Survey.

The Committee has also reviewed other areas of Berman Institute operations, including hiring and recruitment practices for faculty, staff, graduate students and postdoctoral fellows, and will make recommendations in these areas, as well. The work of the BI IDARE Committee is guided by the University’s Diversity Roadmap.

Section 6: Berman Institute Faculty

Tenure Track Faculty

The majority of Bl faculty hold tenure track appointments in one of four divisions of the University: Arts and Sciences, Medicine, Nursing, or Public Health.  There is no uniformity among these faculty with respect to either the BI’s level of fiscal responsibility for the faculty member or the extent to which Bl is responsible for determining promotion decisions.

The Bl has one permanent endowed directorship and five permanent endowed professorships funded by philanthropic support:

  • Andreas C. Dracopoulos Director (Jeffrey Kahn);
  • Philip Franklin Wagley Professor of Biomedical Ethics/School of Medicine (Ruth Faden);
  • Robert Henry & Ryda Hecht Levi Professor of Bioethics & Public Policy/Bloomberg School of Public Health (Jeffrey Kahn);
  • Phoebe R. Berman Professorship in Bioethics and Public Health (Nancy Kass);
  • Anne & George L Bunting Professor of Clinical Ethics/School of Nursing (Cynda Rushton);
  • Harvey M. Meyerhoff Professor of Bioethics and Medicine/School of Medicine (Jeremy Sugarman).

In 2013, the University launched the Bloomberg Distinguished Professorship Program to foster interdisciplinary research and bridge academic disciplines. The Berman Institute has partnered with university divisions to create two Bloomberg Distinguished Professorships: Hanna Pickard as Bloomberg Distinguished Professor of Philosophy and Bioethics, in conjunction with the School of Arts and Sciences, and Jessica Fanzo as a Bloomberg Distinguished Professor in Ethics and Global Food Policy, in conjunction with the School of Advanced International Studies. Fanzo will leave Johns Hopkins at the end of the current academic year, and the BI is currently in conversations about additional Bloomberg Distinguished Professorship hires and/or other endowed faculty positions to replace Professor Fanzo and to expand into new areas.

Berman Institute Non-Tenure Track Faculty

The BI was given the authority by the Provost, in consultation with the Deans of Arts and Sciences, Medicine, Nursing, and Public Health, to appoint non-tenure track faculty. The parameters of the non-tenure faculty appointments are as follows:

  • The Bl must adhere to University policies regarding faculty recruitment and advertising;
  • Non-tenure track faculty hold, as appropriate, the title of Research Associate, Research Scientist; Assistant, Associate, or Full Research Professor; or Adjunct Faculty;
  • The Bl assumes full financial responsibility for its non-tenure track appointments;
  • Non-tenure track faculty are hired for renewable terms of one, two, or three years

Faculty by Effort, Discipline, and School

Of the Institute’s 46 faculty, about a third devote all of their effort to bioethics work, and the remainder divide their effort between bioethics work and other professional commitments.  In order to hold a core appointment in the Berman Institute, faculty members must conduct at least 30% of their work in bioethics.

The faculty FTE for the Bl is approximately 21. Fifteen of the faculty have advanced training in medicine, one in nursing, four in philosophy, nine in the social sciences, two in the biosciences, and five in law. Twenty-seven faculty have appointments in the Schools of Medicine, Public Health, Nursing, Arts and Sciences, or Advanced International Studies. Nine Institute faculty have primary academic appointments in a department of the Bloomberg School of Public Health.

JHU Appointed Division # of Core Faculty # of Affiliate Faculty
Bloomberg School of Public Health 14 0
JHU School of Medicine 12 6
Krieger School of Arts and Sciences 3 0
JHU School of Nursing 1 0
School of Advanced International Studies 1 0
Carey Business School 0 1
University of Maryland School of Law 1 0
Non-Tenure Track 6 4

* 7 core faculty members have appointments in two or more divisions are counted multiple times in the table above

Section 7: Review of Revenue

Financial Executive Summary

The Berman Institute continues to project positive operating margin for its 5-year plan, with increased revenues in key areas. We have seen growth in the last few years in our MBE enrollment from 4-5 students when the program launched to more than 20 last year. We project level enrollment of 15-20 students per year.

Our sponsored research continues to grow as well with the addition of new faculty members, and expect faculty to focus efforts on seeking NIH grant funding, which will aid in their promotion and increase indirect cost recovery.

We anticipate that our philanthropy and contribution revenue will continue to grow as well with the addition of eight new board members in the last three years, and the planned addition of another 5-10 new board members to in the coming five years to replace retiring members and allow for some planned growth of the board.

Our endowment proceeds continue to grow as our philanthropy for endowed funds grows, mostly targeted for continued support to the Institute’s postdoctoral fellowship program, MBE scholarships, and support for PhD students.

Challenges ahead include taking on greater costs associated with the opening of the Henrietta Lacks Building and financial uncertainties due to market fluctuation and political threats to research funding, but we are planning for contingencies with additional opportunities for charitable giving and through improvements in our operating results.

Net Tuition and Fees

This section provides seven years of historical financial data and five years of projected financial data in five categories and then in total:

Net Tuition and Fees – Historic (in thousands)

FY16 Actual FY17 Actual FY18 Actual FY19 Actual FY20 Actual FY21 Actual FY22 Actual
Gross Tuition and fees 135 344 324 282 306 612 942
Student Aid 0 0 0 (35) (96) (176) (286)
Net tuition and fees 135 344 324 247 210 436 657

 Net Tuition and Fees – Projected (in thousands)

FY23 Budget FY24 Budget FY25 Budget FY26 Budget FY27 Budget
Gross Tuition and fees 992 992 1,079 1,165 1,297
Student Aid (274) (276) (297) (320) (357)
Net tuition and fees 718 716 782 845 940
Sponsored Research

Sponsored Research – Historic (in thousands)

FY16 Actual FY17 Actual FY18 Actual FY19 Actual FY20 Actual FY21 Actual FY22 Actual
Grants and Contracts 1,805 3,172 3,649 3,797 3,434 2,592 3,294
Facilities and Admin Recoveries 566 819 845 855 784 604 631
Sponsored Research 2,372 3,991 4,494 4,653 4,218 3,196 3,925

Sponsored Research – Projected (in thousands)

FY23 Budget FY24 Budget FY25 Budget FY26 Budget FY27 Budget
Grants and contracts 3,445 3,583 3,690 3,801 3,915
Facilities and admin recoveries 913 959 1,342 1,409 1,479
Sponsored research 4,358 4,542 5,032 5,210 5,394
 Contributions Revenue (Philanthropy)

Contributions Revenue – Historic (in thousands)

FY16 Actual FY17 Actual FY18 Actual FY19 Actual FY20 Actual FY21 Actual FY22 Actual
Contributions 1,074 1,447 1,111 1,321 1,331 1,551 2,385

 Contributions Revenue – Projected (in thousands)

FY23 Budget FY24 Budget FY25 Budget FY26 Budget FY27 Budget
Contributions 2,494 1,949 1,812 1,751 1,798
Endowment Payout

Endowment Payout – Historic (in thousands)

FY16 Actual FY17 Actual FY18 Actual FY19 Actual FY20 Actual FY21 Actual FY22 Actual
Endowment payout 950 964 1,003 1,013 1,037 1,091 1,157

 Endowment Payout – Projected (in thousands)

FY23 Budget FY24 Budget FY25 Budget FY26 Budget FY27 Budget
Endowment payout 1,395 1,507 1,522 1,537 1,552
 Other Revenue

Other Revenue – Historic (in thousands)

FY16 Actual FY17 Actual FY18 Actual FY19 Actual FY20 Actual FY21 Actual FY22 Actual
Operating net assets released from restriction total 853 0 0 0 23 3 15
Reimbursement from affiliates 186 288 349 168 159 212 175
Investment return 0 14 17 39 69 123 149
Interdivisional 185 96 288 1,245 1,527 1,747 1,654
Other sources 12 23 36 32 23 0 0
Other Total 1236 421 690 1484 1801 2085 1993

Other Revenue – Projected (in thousands)

FY23 Budget FY24 Budget FY25 Budget FY26 Budget FY27 Budget
Operating net assets released from restriction total 288 295 303 311 310
Reimbursement from affiliates 172 173 174 175 176
Investment return 80 83 87 90 94
Interdivisional 130 130 32 33 34
Other sources 0 0 0 0 0
Other Total 670 681 596 609 614
Total Revenue

Total Revenue – Historic (in thousands)

FY16 Actual FY17 Actual FY18 Actual FY19 Actual FY20 Actual FY21 Actual FY22 Actual
Total Revenue 5,765 7,167 7,622 8,718 8,597 8,358 10,117

Total Revenue – Projected (in thousands)

FY23 Budget FY24 Budget FY25 Budget FY26 Budget FY27 Budget
Total Revenue 9,635 9,395 9,744 9,952 10,298
Section 8: Education and Training Programs

From its founding, preparing the next generation of leaders in bioethics has been core to the mission of the Berman Institute, as evidenced by its educational and training programs that have grown to include teaching in the undergraduate curriculum, Master’s and PhD programs, and a growing number of post-doctoral fellowships.

The Institute’s outstanding faculty are deeply committed to teaching and training, and continually update and revise curricula to reflect rapidly emerging issues in bioethics.

The Bioethics Undergraduate Minor at the Krieger School of Arts and Sciences

Offered in collaboration with the Department of Philosophy, the Undergraduate Minor in Bioethics provides Johns Hopkins students with the conceptual and analytical tools necessary to address ethical issues in clinical practice, public health and scientific research, all in both local and global contexts.

The requirements for the bioethics minor consist of eight courses. These must include Bioethics, Introduction to Moral Philosophy, and either General Biology I and II, or Biochemistry and Cell Biology. Students must also complete at least two upper-level seminars taught by Berman Institute faculty. Recent offerings include courses on the Ethics of Body Modification and the Ethics of Human Experimentation. The minor is overseen by a faculty member with joint appointments at the Berman Institute and the Department of Philosophy, who also advises an undergraduate bioethics club.

Historical Enrollment in the Undergraduate Minor

Year Graduates Completing Bioethics Minor
2016-17 4
2017-18 7
2018-19 10
2019-20 6
2020-21 7
2021-22 10
The Master of Bioethics Degree

The Master of Bioethics (MBE) degree, offered in partnership with the Bloomberg School of Public Health, is an innovative, interdisciplinary program combining approaches from philosophy, science, technology, arts and other humanities, public health, medicine, public policy, and law. It prepares students from diverse personal and professional backgrounds to address the bioethics challenges they will face in professional and civic life.

Studying full- or part-time with Berman Institute faculty, MBE students are paired with an advisor who aligns with their interests, helps them create a customized course of study, and guides them throughout the program.

In addition to formal coursework and an optional bioethics practicum, all students complete a multi-part thesis on a specific topic in bioethics, demonstrating an understanding of relevant theoretical, policy, and practical considerations in constructing a well-organized critical examination of their selected topic. MBE students also participate in the full range of Berman Institute seminars and lectures, enabling them to interact with a broad network of national and international leaders in bioethics.

The program requires successful completion of a minimum of 64 term credits, including a thesis seminar. Full-time students typically complete the degree over four 8-week academic terms, plus a few credits during the summer. In addition to formal coursework and a thesis, all students participate in a variety of supplemental seminars in bioethics, enabling them to interact with a broad network of national and international leaders in bioethics.

Historical Enrollment in the MBE Program

Year Applications Acceptances Enrolled
2015-16 10 6 4
2016-17 23 16 10
2017-18 21 15 9
2018-19 22 16 4
2019-20 26 16 7
2020-21 31 27 13
2021-22 54 44 21

As the quality of our applicant pool has increased, we face the challenge of attracting top applicants to enroll in our program.  We have a commitment to endow numerous MBE scholarships through a future bequest as outlined below, and in the meantime face the need to devote current use funds to partial scholarships for as many deserving applicants as possible.  This is a high priority for near-term development efforts.

Fifty-seven students have completed the MBE program since its first cohort graduated in 2017. Systemized institutional tracking of graduates’ outcomes will be a priority of the Berman Institute’s planned expansion of alumni relations activities. In advance of that initiative, preliminary information-gathering shows MBE graduates pursuing these professional activities:

  • Medical school or residence (9 graduates);
  • Physician faculty/researcher (7);
  • PhD program (5);
  • Law school (4);
  • Master’s program (1);
  • Employment relevant to the MBE degree (18).

 Bioethics Courses (specific offerings change yearly)

First Term

  • Foundations of Bioethics I & II Moral Theory for Bioethics
  • Ethics in Clinical Practice: Fundamentals, Problems and Approaches Human Rights and Global Health

Second Term

  • Methods in Bioethics
  • Ethics of Healthcare Decision-Making: Theory and Practice
  • Bioethics, Human Rights, and Global Health
  • Bioethics and Infectious Diseases: Ethical, Legal, and Human Rights Issues Ethical Issues in Health Policy: Public Health and Health Care

Third Term

  • Research Ethics and Integrity: US and International Issues Global Food ethics
  • Understanding Addiction: Philosophy, Science, Ethics

Fourth Term

  • Bioethics and the Law
  • Vulnerability in Childhood from Ethics to Advocacy
Certificate Program in Bioethics (open to all degree candidates at JHU)

The Berman Institute of Bioethics and the Bloomberg School of Public Health partner to offer a certificate in Bioethics and Health Policy. The Certificate Program’s educational objectives are to:

  • Develop students’ ability to recognize and analyze a moral problem in public health practice, research, and health policy;
  • Develop students’ ability to further public policy debate concerning moral problems in public health practice, research, and health policy.

The certificate is open to students enrolled in any graduate degree (Master’s or Doctoral) program at Johns Hopkins University and requires a minimum of 18 credits. Half of these credits come from three required courses – Foundations of Bioethics, Hot Topics in Bioethics, and Introduction to Ethical Theory – and half from a list of elective bioethics courses.

The PhD Track in Health Policy and Ethics

The PhD Program in Bioethics and Health Policy is a concentration within the Bloomberg School of Public Health’s Department of Health Policy and Management offered in collaboration with the Berman Institute of Bioethics. It offers opportunities for students to conduct innovative original scholarship in a premier international research institution focused specifically on bioethics, public health ethics, and health policy.  Berman Institute faculty oversee and direct the track, including the review of applications, interviews of applicants, and offers of admission.  Berman Institute faculty serve as primary advisors for all students in the track.

The PhD program at the Berman Institute focuses on bioethics as it relates to moral questions in public health and health policy, rather than, for example, in clinical decision-making or bedside dilemmas, as is the case in most peer PhD programs. Students complete the Departmental core requirements, including courses in health policy, epidemiology, and biostatistics. Specifically for this track, students also are required to complete coursework in bioethics, moral philosophy, and public health law.

Students and faculty in this concentration study and conduct independent research on ethical issues in public health practice, research, and policy such as ethics and emergency preparedness, domestic and international research ethics, genetic screening policy, ethics and obesity prevention, ethics and infectious diseases, resource allocation, and social justice.

The PhD program provides rigorous training in quantitative and qualitative empirical research methods. By the end of their PhD training, students are prepared to provide not only normative recommendations regarding ethics and public health policy but also are equipped to function as independent researchers, conducting empirical research related to bioethics, public health and health policy.

Students in the PhD program participate fully in a wide range of scholarly, teaching and public engagement activities. These include participating in the semi-annual Berman Institute Research Retreats at which faculty, fellows, and students present works-in-progress, as well as attending the Berman Institute’s bi-weekly seminar series at which prominent scholars from other institutions lecture on emerging research interests.  They are required to submit an abstract to the ASBH annual meeting and are expected to attend the meeting whether or not their abstracts are accepted; the Institute pays for their registration, travel and lodging, and expenses for attending.

Historical Enrollment in the PhD Program

Year Applications Acceptances Enrolled
2015-16 12 3 1
2016-17 4 2 1
2017-18 15 2 1
2018-19 15 1 0
2019-20 16 3 2
2020-21 27 0 0
2021-22 30 1 1

The Berman Institute typically admits one PhD student each year and supports them through the completion of their degree. This fully funded position provides full tuition support, a $30,000 annual stipend and medical insurance, and attracts eminently qualified applicants from across the country. There are usually six PhD students enrolled at any given time, and 22 students have completed the doctoral degree.

Thanks to recent philanthropic contributions, the Berman Institute is working with the BSPH Dept. of Health Policy and Management to expand the PhD program further, allowing two PhD students to enter the program every academic year.  We face the challenge of solidifying permanent funding for our PhD track, making this a top priority for our development efforts. However, early successes in this effort have enabled us to admit two highly qualified PhD candidates to begin study in the fall of 2023.

PhD Student Outcomes

Graduates of the PhD program have gone on to become leaders in bioethics, with 100 percent of its alumni now engaged in professional pursuits that draw upon their doctoral training, including nine graduates working in higher education, four at the National Institutes of Health, five at non-profit research institutions, and three at for-profit healthcare corporations.

Ethics in Graduate Medical Education

Since 2006, Berman Institute faculty have been working to enhance ethics education for trainees in several SOM residency training programs. The broad goals of the ethics education program for residents are to:

  • increase residents’ awareness of ethics issues in clinical practice;
  • increase residents’ appreciation of the importance of ethics to the competent practice of medicine;
  • improve residents’ knowledge attitudes and skills with respect to clinical ethics issues;
  • have residents develop a common language and approach to ethics issue by becoming familiar with and using our case method for approaching, analyzing, and resolving ethics problems; and
  • help prepare residents for the ethics portion of their respective Board exams

A group of BI faculty (Drs. Carrese, Collins, Hughes, Moon, and Seltzer) currently maintain ethics educational programs in seven residency programs that together account for approximately 370 residents: Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Gynecology/Obstetrics, Medicine (JH Bayview), Medicine (JHH), Neurology, Pediatrics, Ophthalmology, and Surgery. Funding from The Johns Hopkins Hospital supports ethics education in our four largest residency programs: Medicine (JH Bayview and JHH), Pediatrics, and Surgery. Private funding from the Freeman Family Scholars Program partially supported ethics education in Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Gynecology/Obstetrics, and Neurology, as well as a monthly Ethics for Lunch symposium for the JHH community. Private funding also supports evaluation efforts and empirical research that informs trainees’ clinical ethics education.

The Fogarty Fellows Program

The Fogarty African Bioethics Post-Doctoral Fellowship is a fully-funded 18-month fellowship in global bioethics and international research ethics, supported by the Fogarty International Center (NIH) for qualified African bioethics professionals. Fellows begin the program with four months of in-depth bioethics training at the Berman Institute, including advanced coursework and seminars in bioethics, research ethics, research methods and international health; research proposal development; and individual mentorship. Fellows then return to their home countries to initiate independent research projects, followed by another three-plus months of training at the Berman Institute. Finally, fellows spend six months conducting independent research in their home countries, followed by submitting for publication the manuscript that emerges from their research.

Historical Enrollment in the Fogarty Fellows Program

The program is funded by the NIH Fogarty International Center and is focused on training fellows who have gone on to lead, teach and continue their research at their home institutions. Historically, the Berman Institute welcomes two to four Fellows each year, selected from a range of highly qualified applicants who are well positioned to become leading faculty in bioethics and research within their institutions and across the African continent. To date, the program has trained 57 scholars and maintains collaborative partnerships with three African institutions: the University of Zambia; the University of Botswana; and Makerere University (Uganda).

The Hecht-Levi Postdoctoral Fellowship

The Hecht-Levi Fellowship is a two-year, postdoctoral training program in bioethics offered by the Berman Institute. The main goal of the Fellowship is to launch the careers of the next generation of bioethics scholars by giving them an opportunity to pursue research projects in their area of academic expertise, working with the Berman Institute’s faculty experts.  To accomplish this, the program offers a considerable amount of protected time for research and publication.

Hecht-Levi Fellows are in residence at the Berman Institute for two years where they receive one-on-one faculty mentorship while pursuing their own scholarship in bioethics, collaborate with faculty on selected projects in bioethics, and participate in weekly seminars and discussions. Each Fellow designs an individual program tailored to her or his goals, interests, and background.

The program is supported by philanthropy from our National Advisory Board Chair, Alex Levi, and his family foundation.

Historical Enrollment in the Hecht-Levi Fellows Program

The Berman Institute typically welcomes an annual cohort of up to four Hecht-Levi Fellows for the two-year program, resulting in approximately eight Fellows in residence at any given time. The selection process is highly competitive. The Berman Institute has trained 30 Hecht-Levi Fellows, in addition to 50 trainees who participated from 1995-2012 in the program that preceded its creation, the Greenwall Postdoctoral Fellowship in Bioethics.

Executive Education

Efforts to expand our educational programming by offering executive education to the life sciences industries are part of our vision for the future.  While nascent, the program is backed by philanthropic investment from a member of our National Advisory Board, and planning to launch the program continues with the help of external partners.

Section 9: Berman Institute Development and External Affairs

Berman Institute Development

The Berman Institute has its own development operation that focuses on raising funds to support its mission.  The development team consists of three people, with a Senior Director who oversees all fundraising, events, and other external affairs activity, an Assistant Director who manages the Annual Fund, Alumni Relations, and events, and Administrative Coordinator who supports all development and events activities.

The Berman Institute is supported, in large part, by the donations of a highly dedicated and loyal National Advisory Board (NAB), which is made up of 29 active members and two emeritus members.  On average, the NAB drives approximately 75% of all development progress in any given year.  The remaining funds raised come from foundations and individual donors who are not members of the NAB.  Because of this, the development team focuses much of its efforts on ensuring a positive experience for our NAB members, which drives success for both our unrestricted annual giving program and our ability to raise major gifts for programmatic growth, capital projects, and endowments.

To expand the reach of the Berman Development team, they rely on partnerships with the Johns Hopkins University central development teams.  Central University specialists in areas of gift planning, foundation relations, events, and marketing and communications as well as a team of traveling gift officers are all employed to broaden the reach of the Berman team.

Below are our fundraising results over the past seven fiscal years:

Fiscal Year Annual Fund Total Gifts and Pledges
FY16 $786,617 $8,157,805
FY17 $510,859 $2,737,613
FY18 $620,335 $8,476,592
FY19 $363,957 $3,182,282
FY20 $401,401 $4,841,126
FY21 $565,412 $2,677,876
FY22 $406,962 $4,748,378

The Berman Institute receives approximately 100 – 125 gifts per year.  This means that we have the highest average gift size of any unit within Johns Hopkins.  It also means that the institute is reliant on a very small group of donors.

Development Achievements

In the past seven years, several major development milestones were reached.

The Berman Institute exceeded its $50 million goal, raising $52 million during Johns Hopkins’ Rising to the Challenge comprehensive campaign, which ran from 2010 to 2018.  As a capstone gift, the Berman Institute secured a $15m bequest from our Advisory Board chair, Alex Levi, that will be used to launch the Ruth R. Faden Fund for Education in Bioethics.  The Faden Fund will offer scholarship support for MBE students, support for PhD students, and endow the Hecht-Levi Fellowship program.  Thanks to stewardship of this gift, Dr. Levi has begun pre-paying on the bequest, allowing us to implement some of the benefits of this gift ahead of the full bequest.

In 2019, the Berman Institute was fortunate to receive $3m from NAB member Andreas Dracopoulos and Johns Hopkins alumnus Michael Bloomberg to launch the Dracopoulos-Bloomberg Bioethics iDeas Lab within the Berman Institute. The iDeas Lab fully launched in 2022 and aims to pioneer new approaches for creating bioethics content, taking advantage of new media strategies, the latest media technologies, and innovative approaches to visualization of information and research results.

Also, during the past seven years, the Berman Institute was able to raise just over $5m to support the construction of Henrietta Lacks Hall.  This support came from various donors, all of whom are either current or past NAB members.

Development Challenges

The Berman Institute is building an Alumni Relations effort that will launch officially in Spring 2023.  We hope that in the long term, this effort will yield greater engagement with our growing pool of alumni/ae, which will lead to a broader base of support, higher levels of unrestricted giving, and a lower average gift size with higher total contributions.  However, fundraising results from an alumni relations effort will likely not be realized for a significant period of time, as our alumni population tends to be young and remains quite small.  When including post-graduate fellows in our totals of alumni, we have approximately 120 individuals in our alumni community.

Because the Berman Institute has only been generating alumni for a short period of time, and because we do not have other traditional ways in which to attract donors, such as grateful patient fundraising within the School of Medicine, we rely very heavily on unaffiliated individuals who believe in our mission and decide to support us philanthropically.  This requires a significant amount of energy and resources from our volunteers, our Director, and the development team to identify and recruit new donors.

While significant efforts have been made to add new members to the Advisory Board, with eight new members joining in the past three years, the NAB must continue to be strengthened as members retire and/or reach their term limits.

 Top Philanthropic Priorities

Johns Hopkins University has entered the quiet phase of a new, comprehensive campaign.  As part of that process, our Institute Director and Sr. Director of External Affairs are working with Central University Development leadership to identify the top priorities for Berman in the next five years.  That process has led us to the following areas in which philanthropy will advance our academic priorities.

  • Henrietta Lacks Hall Endowment – to help offset increased operational costs when Berman expands its footprint into our new building.
  • Program for Clinical Ethics Excellence – to dramatically expand and support our existing clinical ethics education efforts by raising funds for faculty support, research, teaching, and dissemination.
  • Neuroscience and Society – Berman will seek funds to help lead research into how advances in neuroscience driven by emerging technology can be implemented in a way that is ethical and understood and supported by the public.
  • PhD Funding – the Berman Institute will continue to work to ensure that our PhD program is well funded and that we can grow the pool of admitted students in future years.
  • Scholarship Funding – The Berman Institute has received a bequest intention that will provide ample support for our MBE scholarship opportunities in perpetuity. However, we do not expect to receive those funds for a significant period of time and are therefore focused on raising current use scholarship funds now and until the bequest is realized.

Marketing and Communications Overview

The Berman Institute has a one-person Communications and Marketing staff, charged with supporting and producing all print and electronic materials pertaining to development and admissions, maintaining the website, publicizing Institute news and events and overseeing media relations. The office works regularly with science, health, and other journalists at a wide range of national and local media outlets to place stories that connect faculty bioethics research and insight with broad sections of the public.

The Berman Institute also has a faculty member who, in his role as Director of Academic Outreach, edits and transmits multiple weekly e-newsletters on a range of bioethics and bioethics adjacent topics to thousands of subscribers, many of whom work in academics and/or research. These two professionals collaborate on a robust social media outreach, sharing news not only about Berman Institute people and happenings but also timely bioethics-related information from around the world, with thousands of followers.

Marketing and Communications Achievements  

Immense media interest in the ethical ramifications of the Covid-19 pandemic enabled the Communications Office to regularly secure interviews with Berman Institute faculty in some of the nation’s most prominent outlets, including The New York Times,Washington Post, CNN, MSNBC and beyond. These efforts helped strengthen existing and establish new relationships with journalists that we are now leveraging to provide increased coverage of bioethics-related topics beyond Covid. In addition to proactively publicizing new research, responding to incoming media calls, and pitching faculty as experts to offer insight on breaking news, the office has emphasized soliciting faculty commentaries on a range of bioethics topics, helping edit and place opinion pieces in a number of priority outlets.

As stated previously, the Berman Institute launched a new website in 2018 that has dramatically increased our brand visibility and is among the most visited bioethics websites on the internet.  You can visit our website here.  The Institute’s Twitter feed is a major source of engagement with both the bioethics community and the general public. With 11,000 followers, it is the largest social media feed in the field.

Also as stated previously, the Berman Institute undertook a brand messaging effort in 2018, the results of which have re-shaped the way we explain our work to external partners, volunteers, and donors.  More detail can be found here.

The creation of the iDeas Lab will enable the Berman Institute to explore the capacity of new technologies and immersive storytelling to help re-think methodologies in bioethics communication, including classroom instruction, influencing policymakers, communicating to patients or delivering findings to broad audiences. The Lab will provide opportunities for storytellers, journalists, creators and bioethicists to work together in sharing bioethics scholarship with the public.

Marketing and Communications Challenges

MBE enrollment spiked during the pandemic, some of which might be attributed to the temporary switch to an online program, increased interest in public health, and Johns Hopkins University’s prominence in the nation’s response to Covid. As the economy improves, traditionally resulting in fewer people pursuing graduate degrees, and the program returns to fully in-person instruction, sustaining and subsequently increasing enrollment might require significant additional resources to expand the Institute’s marketing outreach.

The Institute’s efforts to reach a mass audience through the news media benefit greatly when the Johns Hopkins central News Office agrees to put its support behind the dissemination of one of our press releases. However, that office tends to prioritize the kinds of scientific research discoveries that are rare in bioethics. While we continue to cultivate our own relationships with journalists, broad coverage will sometimes remain contingent on JHU’s willingness to lend us their megaphone. And since many of our faculty have an appointment in another division of the university, individuals sometimes are not identified with their Berman Institute affiliation when they appear in the press.

Social media is an important communications channel for the Berman Institute. If Twitter becomes an untenable platform, for either technical or philosophical reasons, it will cost us a significant amount of visibility and thought leadership in bioethics.