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Debra Juanita Hale Mathews, Ph.D.

Photo of Dr. Debra Juanita Hale Mathews, Ph.D.
  • Assistant Director for Science Programs, Berman Institute of Bioethics
  • Associate Professor of Genetic Medicine

Research Interests

Intersection of science, public policy, and society


Dr. Debra J.H. Mathews is an assistant professor of pediatrics at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. Her research focuses on the intersection of science, public policy and society. 

Dr. Mathews serves as the assistant director for science programs for the Johns Hopkins Berman Institute of Bioethics.

She earned her B.S. in biology from Pennsylvania State University and a Ph.D. in genetics from Case Western Reserve University. Concurrent with her Ph.D., she earned a master’s degree in bioethics from Case Western. 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 is jointly administered by Johns Hopkins and Georgetown University.

As a Greenwall fellow, Dr. Mathews worked at the Genetics and Public Policy Center, where, among other work, she investigated the views of geneticists on their role(s) in science policy formation and public engagement. In addition, during a three-month internship at the Department of Health and Human Services in the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation, Office of Science and Data Policy, she worked with the privacy advocate on issues related to large data systems.

As the assistant director for science programs at the Berman Institute of Bioethics, 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 in the Berman Institute. She is also a member of the steering committee of The Hinxton Group, a consortium of scientists, ethicists, policy experts and other scholars committed to exploring ethics and policy challenges raised by stem cell science in an international context.

In 2011, Dr. Mathews served as a senior policy and research analyst on the staff of the Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues. She received a 2014 grant from the Institute for Excellence in Education to develop a massive open online course (MOOC) on the ethics and policy issues related to synthetic biology. more


  • Assistant Director for Science Programs, Berman Institute of Bioethics
  • Associate Professor of Genetic Medicine
  • Associate Professor of Pediatrics

Departments / Divisions

Centers & Institutes



  • Ph.D., Case Western Reserve University (Ohio) (2002)

Additional Training

Case Western Reserve University
Cleveland, OH

Pennsylvania State University
State College, PA

Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine
Baltimore, MD

Greenwall Fellowship
Johns Hopkins University and Georgetown University
Bioethics and Health Policy
Baltimore, MD

Research & Publications

Research Summary

Dr. Mathew’s research focuses on bioethics and science policy, particularly genetics, stem cell research and neuroscience.

Selected Publications

Regenberg A, Mathews DJ. "Promoting justice in stem cell intellectual property." Regen Med. 2011 Nov;6(6 Suppl):79-84. doi: 10.2217/rme.11.68. Review.

Mathews DJ. "Deep brain stimulation, personal identity and policy." Int Rev Psychiatry. 2011 Oct;23(5):486-92. doi: 10.3109/09540261.2011.632624. Review.

Mathews DJ, Graff GD, Saha K, Winickoff DE. "Access to stem cells and data: persons, property rights, and scientific progress." Science. 2011 Feb 11;331(6018):725-7. doi: 10.1126/science.1201382.

Sugarman J, Mathews DJ. "Of mice and men: skin cells, stem cells and ethical uncertainties." Regen Med. 2009 Nov;4(6):791. doi: 10.2217/rme.09.65. No abstract available.

Rabins P, Appleby BS, Brandt J, DeLong MR, Dunn LB, Gabriëls L, Greenberg BD, Haber SN, Holtzheimer PE 3rd, Mari Z, Mayberg HS, McCann E, Mink SP, Rasmussen S, Schlaepfer TE, Vawter DE, Vitek JL, Walkup J, Mathews DJ. "Scientific and ethical issues related to deep brain stimulation for disorders of mood, behavior, and thought." Arch Gen Psychiatry. 2009 Sep;66(9):931-7. doi: 10.1001/archgenpsychiatry.2009.113.

Mathews DJ, Donovan PJ, Harris J, Lovell-Badge R, Savulescu J, Faden R. "Pluripotent stem cell-derived gametes: truth and (potential) consequences." Cell Stem Cell. 2009 Jul 2;5(1):11-4. doi: 10.1016/j.stem.2009.06.005.

Contact for Research Inquiries

1809 Ashland Avenue
Room 208
Baltimore, MD 21205 map
Phone: 410-614-5581

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Activities & Honors


  • International Faculty Education Scholar Grant, Institute for Excellence in Education, Johns Hopkins Medicine, 2014

Professional Activities

  • Member, Maryland Stem Cell Research Commission, 2012
  • Senior Policy and Research Analyst, Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues, 2011
  • Member, Steering Committee, The Hinxton Group
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