Yale Receives $2.1 million for Donaghue Initiative in Biomedical & Behavioral Research Ethics

The Patrick and Catherine Weldon Donaghue Medical Research Foundation has awarded Yale University $2.1 million to establish the Donaghue Initiative in Biomedical & Behavioral Research Ethics.

The grant will be used by the university’s Interdisciplinary Bioethics Project to expand research and outreach efforts in biomedical research ethics.

The Interdisciplinary Bioethics Project was formed at Yale five years ago to promote scholarly inquiry on major ethical issues such as life and death medical decisions, stem cell research, use of humans as research subjects, provider-patient relationships, and women’s health. Faculty from across the university are active in the project’s working groups and cross-disciplinary research endeavors.

“The Donaghue grant is devoted to that part of our overall program that is focused on the ethics of doing health-related research,” said Robert Levine, M.D., professor of medicine and co-chair of the Interdisciplinary Bioethics Project with Margaret Farley, the Stark Professor of Christian Ethics at Yale Divinity School. He noted that the Donaghue Initiative comes at a time when there is a sense of urgency and importance.

“Changes are occurring in our society at a rapid rate in the intersection of medicine, research, and ethics,” Levine said. “The moral questions and policy decisions that need to be addressed are larger and more complex than any single individual or discipline is capable of handling. Yale has the needed combination of resources and expertise to confront these challenges.”

“A partnership with the Patrick and Catherine Weldon Donaghue Medical Research Foundation will permit the university to engage in a rigorous clinical and ethical research agenda, collaborate with other institutions in the state of Connecticut, and disseminate effectively and widely to other scholars and to the wider society the knowledge that will be gained,” added Levine.

Levine will serve as chair of the Donaghue Initiative. He also is director of the Law, Policy and Ethics Core of the Yale Center for Interdisciplinary Research on AIDS and for 30 years was chair of the Human Investigations Committee at the School of Medicine.

Each year the Donaghue funds will bring a leading bioethicist to Yale as a visiting scholar. The funds will also support six $10,000 research grants each year; an institutional review board consortium, which will include medical institutions around the state as well as within Yale, and Donaghue symposia, lectures and conferences.

The funding also has enabled the appointment of an associate director, Julius Landwirth, M.D., an attorney and former chair of the Department of Pediatrics at Hartford Hospital and former chair of the Connecticut Hospital Association’s network of ethics committees. “He is a tremendous boost to our program,” Levine said. “He is really taking charge and developing all of our components of this Donaghue initiative.”

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