Yale University and Hastings Center Create Joint Bioethics and Health Policy Program

Yale University and the Hastings Center, an independent bioethics research institute based in Garrison, NY, have announced the establishment of the Yale-Hastings Program in Ethics and Health Policy — a collaboration designed to increase the range, depth and impact of both bioethics programs in the teaching, research and understanding of the field.

David H. Smith, director of Yale’s Interdisciplinary Center for Bioethics, and Daniel Callahan, Hastings Center co-founder, formalized the commitment to strengthen ties between the two institutions at a ceremony at Yale on January 16. Smith and Callahan are co-directors of the joint program, and both are Yale alumni. Smith earned a Bachelor of Divinity degree from Yale Divinity School in 1964; Callahan earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from Yale College in 1952.

One highlight of the new collaboration is the inclusion of faculty from Yale and the Hastings Center on both institutions’ projects, as well as the development of new collaborative projects. There will be an annual scholarly exchange of library privileges between the Yale University Library and Hasting’s Robert Morison Library, and the two institutions will joinly host visiting scholars and sponsor student programs.

The Yale-Hastings Program in Ethics and Health Policy will hold an inaugural public event on health care reform at Yale on April 28.

“The University has been extremely fortunate to call upon the leadership of individuals like David Smith and Dan Callahan to transform bioethics at Yale from an exciting vision to a vibrant reality. Collaboration with a distinguished and accomplished partner like the Hastings Center promises to expand our vision and to broaden our impact on bioethical issues and discourse within the University community and beyond,” said Stephanie Spangler, deputy provost for biomedical and health affairs.

“This is a wonderful opportunity for Yale’s Bioethics Center,” Smith said. “The Hastings Center has an unrivaled track record and an extraordinary range of contacts around the world. We will benefit from all that and help to make an important contribution in the years ahead.”

“Collaboration between the Hastings Center and Yale’s bioethics community brings together two very strong groups of ethicists and policy analysts, forming one of the most impressive bioethics programs anywhere,” said Don Green, director of Yale’s Institution for Social and Policy Studies (ISPS), and the A. Whitney Griswold Professor of Political Science. The Interdisciplinary Center for Bioethics is an entity within the ISPS.

Founded as a committee in 1997 and granted center status in 2005, Yale’s Interdisciplinary Center for Bioethics engages students and faculty in discussion about the “social and political responses to science and technology that have greatly improved life for many people but made life worse for others, and rendered our collective survival as a species problematical,” said Smith. The Center is supported in part by the Patrick and Catherine Weldon Donaghue Medical Research Foundation. Its scholars study the ethical and social implications of biomedical and technological research, with a strong focus on religion and the environment as well as on care for the dying, aging and risk assessment. The Center draws on many of Yale’s resources, including its students and faculty, libraries and Schools of Medicine, Divinity, Law and Forestry and Environmental Studies.

The Hastings Center, founded in 1969, was the world’s first bioethics research institute. Non-partisan and not-for-profit, the Hastings Center has a robust research program, with federally and privately funded grants supporting projects examining the impact of advances in medicine and the life sciences on individuals, families and communities. In addition to the New York facilities, the Hastings Center has a satellite office in Washington, DC.

Current projects include looking at the use of psychiatric medication in children, the role of medical technology in rising health care costs, sports enhancement and synthetic biology. Thanks to support from the Ford Foundation, the Center in 2007 established a strong public affairs arm to enhance its reach to journalists, policymakers and the public. As part of this effort, “From Birth to Death and Bench to Bedside: The Hastings Center’s Bioethics Briefing Book for Journalists and Policymakers” is available free on the Center’s website.

“At a time when bioethics has more relevance than ever, the Hastings Center welcomes the opportunity to work closely with our colleagues at Yale to develop new knowledge and new insights,” said Thomas H. Murray, president of the Hastings Center.

“I could hardly have imagined when I entered Yale as a freshman that I would be coming back many years later for a whole new relationship,” Callahan said. “Nor could I have guessed it would be in a field that did not even exist when I was a student. It is exciting and stimulating, and a wonderful opportunity for the Center.”

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Media Contact

Gila Reinstein: gila.reinstein@yale.edu, 203-432-1325