Debra Mathews, PhD, MA

Associate Director for Research and Programs; Professor


1809 Ashland Avenue
Room 211
Baltimore, MD 21205
  • Associate Director for Research and Programs
    Berman Institute of Bioethics
  • Professor
    Department of Genetic Medicine, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine

Debra JH Mathews, PhD, MA, is the Associate Director for Research and Programs for the Johns Hopkins Berman Institute of Bioethics, and a Professor in the Department of Genetic Medicine, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. As the Associate Director for Research and Programs, Dr. Mathews organizes Berman Institute programs including the Seminar Series, Hecht-Levi Symposia, Charm City Colloquia, and the Haywood Memorial Lecture.  She also tracks the Institute’ research portfolio, and serves as the point of contact for requests to participate in research-related JHU committees and project groups. She also runs the Genomics and Society Mentorship Program and serves as the Chair of the Berman Institute’s Inclusion, Diversity, Anti-Racism, and Equity (IDARE) Committee. Within the Institute for Assured Autonomy (IAA), Dr. Mathews serves as the Ethics & Governance Lead. In this role, she leads work focused on the ethical, societal, and governance implications of autonomous systems, and identifies opportunities across IAA for the integration of ethics and governance work and priorities.

Dr. Mathews’s academic work focuses on ethics and policy issues raised by emerging technologies, with particular focus on genetics, stem cell science, neuroscience, synthetic biology, and artificial intelligence. Dr. Mathews is 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. She has been an active member of the International Neuroethics Society since 2006, has been on the Society’s Board of Directors since 2015, and is currently serving as President of the Society. In addition to her academic work, Dr. Mathews has spent time at the Genetics and Public Policy Center, the US Department of Health and Human Services, the Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues, and the National Academy of Medicine working in various capacities on science policy.

Dr. Mathews earned her PhD in genetics from Case Western Reserve University, as well as a concurrent Master’s in bioethics. She completed a Post-Doctoral Fellowship in genetics at Johns Hopkins, and the Greenwall Fellowship in Bioethics and Health Policy at Johns Hopkins and Georgetown Universities.

Research Interests

  • Ethics and policy issues raised by emerging biotechnologies, with particular focus on genetics, stem cell science, neuroscience and synthetic biology


  • BS, Biology, Pennsylvania State University
  • PhD, Genetics, Case Western Reserve University
  • MA, Bioethics, Case Western Reserve University

Recent Publications

Mathews DJH and Ram N. Get Law Enforcement Out of Biospecimen Authentication. Science. 2022 Jun;376(6599): 1274-1276.

Mathews DJH, Fabi R, Offodile AC. Imagining Governance for Emerging Technologies. Issues in Science and Technology. 2022 38(3): 40-46.

Mathews DJH, Balatbat CA, Dzau VJ. Governance of Emerging Technologies in Health and Medicine — Creating a New Framework. NEJM. Epub 2022 Apr 13.

Sanghavi K, Cohn B, Prince AER, Feero WG, Ryan K, Spector-Bagdady K, Uhlmann WR, Lee C, Roberts JS, Mathews DJH. Voluntary workplace genomic testing: Wellness benefit or Pandora’s Box? Npj Genomic Medicine. 2022 Jan;7(1):5.

Sherkow JS, Barker KB, Braverman I, Cook-Deegan R, Durbin R, Easter CL, Goldstein MM, Hudson M, Kress WJ, Lewin HA, Mathews DJH, McCarthy C, McCartney A, da Silva M, Torrance AW, Greely HT. Ethical, Legal, and Social Issues in the Earth BioGenome Project. PNAS. 2022 Jan;119(4): e2115859119.

Morain SR, Mathews DJH, Geller G, Bollinger J, Weinfurt K, Jarvik JG, May E, Sugarman J. Identification and management of pragmatic clinical trial collateral findings: A current understanding and directions for future research. Healthc (Amst). 2021 Dec;9(4):100586.

Smith G, Mathews D, Sander-Effron S, Requesens D, Turan N, Scheinfeldt L. Microsatellite Markers in Biobanking: A New Multiplexed Assay. Biopreserv Biobank. 2021 Oct;19(5):438-443.

Weinfurt K, Bollinger J, May E, Geller G, Mathews DJH, Morain SR, Sugarman J. Patients’ Reactions to Letters Communicating Collateral Findings of Pragmatic Clinical Trials: A National Web-Based Survey.  J Gen Intern Med. 2021 Aug 12:1–7.

Bollinger J, May E, Mathews D, Donowitz M, Sugarman J. Patients’ Perspectives on the Derivation and Use of Organoids. Stem Cell Reports 2021;16(8):1874-1883.

Walker A, Bonham VL, Boyce A, Clayton EW, Garcia D, Johnson S, Laeyendecker O, Lewis L, Margolick J, Mathews D, Parker MJ, Spicer P, Thio CL, Geller G, Kahn J. Ethical Issues in Genetics and Infectious Diseases Research: An Interdisciplinary Expert Review. Ethics, Medicine and Public Health 2021;18:100684.

Clark AT, Brivanolou A, Fu J, Kato K, Mathews D, Niakan K, Rivron N, Saitou M, Surani A, Tang F, Rossant J. Human embryo research, stem cell-derived embryo models and in vitro gametogenesis: considerations leading to the revised ISSCR guidelines. Stem Cell Reports 2021;16(6):1416-1424.

Lovell-Badge R, Anthony E, Barker RA, Bubela T, Brivanlou AH, Carpenter M, Charo RA, Clark A, Clayton E, Cong Y, Daley GQ, Fu J, Fujita M, Greenfield A, Goldman SA, Hill L, Hyun I, Isasi R, Kahn J, Kato K, Kim JS, Kimmelman J, Knoblich JA, Mathews D, Montserrat N, Mosher J, Munsie M, Nakauchi H, Naldini L, Naughton G, Niakan K, Ogbogu U, Pedersen R, Rivron N, Rooke H, Rossant J, Round J, Saitou M, Sipp D, Steffann J, Sugarman J, Surani A, Takahashi J, Tang F, Turner L, Zettler PJ, Zhai X. ISSCR Guidelines for Stem Cell Research and Clinical Translation: The 2021 update. Stem Cell Reports2021;16(6):1398-1408.

Overby Taylor C, Manov NF, Crew KD, Weng C, Connolly J, Chute CG, Ford D, Lehmann H, Rahm AK, Kullo IJ, Caraballo PJ, Holm IA, Mathews D. Preferences for updates on general research results: A survey of participants in genomics research at two institutionsJ Pers Med 2021; 11(5):399.

J Pers Med 2021; 11(5):399.

Sanghavi K, Feero WG, Mathews DJH, Prince AER, Price LL, Liu ET, Brothers KB, Roberts SJ, Lee C. Employees’ Views and Ethical, Legal, and Social Implications Assessment of Voluntary Workplace Genomic Testing. Front Genet 2021;12: 643304