Celebrating 25 Years of Achievement

January 6, 2020

From its origins as a small group of scholars from diverse fields sharing a fascination with and appreciation for the ethics of health care and science, the Berman Institute of Bioethics has grown into a global leader that helps shape ethical policy and practices for the betterment of people around the world. To reflect upon, celebrate, and call attention to this vitally important work, the Berman Institute will mark the 25th anniversary of its 1995 founding with a yearlong series of academic and institutional events.

“With the creation of the Berman Institute 25 years ago, Johns Hopkins formally recognized how important it is for scholars to think systemically and critically about the ethics of health care, public health, and biomedical and behavioral research,” said President Ronald J. Daniels. “A truly interdisciplinary center, the Institute brings together expertise from across the University to collaborate and contribute substantially to the world of ideas and action.”

Some of the many anniversary events include a monthly seminar series that will bring national and global bioethics experts to speak about their research, a documentary series at The Charles Theatre with screenings followed by filmmakers and bioethics experts discussing issues raised by the films, regional events for JHU alumni, and publication of a Berman Institute historical retrospective.

“This celebration is an opportunity to celebrate the Berman Institute’s groundbreaking work in the vital and ever-evolving field of bioethics, and to highlight the many ways our people and programs put ethics into action to produce real-world impact,” said Jeffrey P. Kahn, Andreas C. Dracopoulos Director of the Institute.

The field of bioethics has its origins in medical ethics but has a much broader focus. Contemporary bioethics now address not only the ethics of medicine and nursing, but also the ethics of the biological sciences and of national and global public health policies. It is an interdisciplinary field in which philosophers, theologians, legal scholars, social and biological scientists, scholars and professionals in public health, physicians, nurses, and other health professionals work together on ethical challenges.

What is now the Berman Institute of Bioethics began with a faculty interest group. Under the guidance of founder Ruth Faden, and with the support of Morris Offit, Chair of the University’s Board from 1990 to 1996, the Institute was formally established in 1995.

“An independent bioethics institute was a natural fit bringing together all the issues Johns Hopkins engages with, from medicine, public health, and arts and sciences,” said Offit. “The Berman Institute’s extraordinary faculty complements the breadth of Hopkins’ work across these different divisions. Johns Hopkins was the ideal place to get this work started and see it further flower.”

Today, the Berman Institute advances ethics-driven healthcare and promotes equitable and effective public health policies and practices. It guides ethically responsible development and use of new technologies and works toward ethical solutions to global sustainability challenges. And it educates and creates the next generation of leaders in the field of bioethics.

“In addition to commemorating all we have achieved thus far, we hope this anniversary year will be a springboard to even greater impact in the years ahead,” said Kahn.

For full information about the Berman Institute’s 25th Anniversary, including an up-to-date schedule of events and a historical timeline, visit bioethics.jhu.edu/25years.