Prof. Mathews Named Chair of Maryland Stem Cell Commission

September 10, 2019

Debra Mathews, Assistant Director for Science Programs and Associate Professor at the Johns Hopkins Berman Institute of Bioethics, has been named to a two-year term as Chair of the Maryland Stem Cell Research Commission. The Commission is focused on identifying and fostering cutting-edge research and innovation in the field of regenerative medicine in Maryland.

“I am excited for the opportunity to help ensure that both public and private research entities keep Maryland at the forefront of this vitally important field,” said Mathews.

The Commission’s Accelerating Cures initiative comprises programs that help transition human stem cell-based technologies from the bench to the bedside as well as mechanisms to build and grow stem cell companies in Maryland. Additionally, the Commission establishes criteria, standards, and requirementsto ensure that stem cell research funded by the Maryland Stem Cell Research Fund complies with state law.

At the Berman Institute, Dr. Mathews is responsible for overseeing the Stem Cell Policy and Ethics program and the Program in Ethics and Brain Sciences, as well as other bench research-related endeavors. She is also a member of the steering committee of The Hinxton Group, an international collective of scientists, ethicists, policymakers and others, interested in ethical and well-regulated science, and whose work focuses primarily on stem cell research.

“Debra Mathews is a national leader on the ethical and science policy issues surrounding stem cell research. In her role as chair, Debra’s experience and expertise will serve the Commission well,” said Jeffrey Kahn, Andreas C. Dracopoulos Director of the Johns Hopkins Berman Institute of Bioethics.

Dr. Mathews’s academic work focuses on ethics and policy issues raised by emerging biotechnologies, with particular focus on genetics, stem cell science, neuroscience and synthetic biology. Earlier this year she launched an undergraduate mentorship program that will expand diversity among future ethical, legal, and social implications researchers in the field of genomics.

Dr. Mathews earned a BS in Biology from the Pennsylvania State University and a PhD in Genetics from Case Western Reserve University. Concurrent with her PhD, she earned a master’s degree in bioethics from Case. She completed a postdoctoral fellowship in genetics at Johns Hopkins, where she continued her work on human genetic variation and human population history. She also completed the Greenwall Fellowship in Bioethics and Health Policy, which was jointly administered by Johns Hopkins and Georgetown universities. Dr. Mathews has also spent time at the Johns Hopkins Genetics and Public Policy Center, the US Department of Health and Human Services, and the Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues, working in various capacities on science policy.