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Dome - Berman Institute’s new home

May 2011

Berman Institute’s new home

Date: May 20, 2011

Deering Hall
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Deering Hall, the first permanent home for the Berman Institute for Bioethics, was once a 19th-century police station.
photo by Keith Weller

When bioethicists, military officers and the leaders of nongovernmental organizations met recently at Johns Hopkins to discuss how to allocate limited medical resources after disasters such as Hurricane Katrina and the earthquake in Haiti, they brainstormed in the Berman Institute of Bioethics’ first permanent home.

One participant was journalist Sheri Fink, who investigated the euthanizing of New Orleans hospital patients trapped by floodwaters after the 2005 hurricane. Thanks to the institute’s new LCD screens and state-of-the-art technology, the Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter was able to share her observations from a location in Italy.

“She was present and participating throughout the meeting,” says pediatrician Margaret Moon, an assistant professor at Hopkins’ school of medicine and the Freeman Family Scholar in Medical Clinical Ethics at the institute. “Videoconferencing was seamless, easy and reliable—opening up a whole new dimension of possibilities for national and international collaboration.”

Bioethicists based at Hopkins will also find it easier to work together in the newly renovated building located on Ashland Avenue, at the northwestern edge of campus. Before the 19th-century structure was secured for the institute, its faculty and staff were scattered throughout the city and various Hopkins institutions, presenting challenges for communication as well as camaraderie.

“We are just so grateful and, at the same time, invigorated to finally have a place we can call home,” says Berman Institute Director Ruth Faden, the Philip Franklin Wagley Professor of Biomedical Ethics.

The renovated building is named Deering Hall, in honor of Lynn and Tony Deering, longtime supporters of both the Berman Institute and The Johns Hopkins University.

Founded in 1995, the Berman Institute consists of more than 30 core and affiliated faculty members, many with appointments in the school of medicine, the school of public health, the school of nursing and the  school of arts and sciences. The Institute’s faculty has published well over 1,000 articles and more than a dozen books on subjects ranging from informed consent and neuroethics, to umbilical cord blood banking and tube feeding the advanced elderly.

To celebrate these contributions and recognize the importance of the multidisciplinary field, the university has designated May 9 to 13 as Bioethics Week. For a full list of Bioethics Week events, including a talk by Joshua Sharfstein, secretary of Maryland’s Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, visit http://www.

Michael Pena