2022 — A Year of Results
In the early days of 2022, doctors transplanted a pig heart into a dying 57-year-old man, a medical first. Hastings Center research scholar Karen Maschke cautioned against rushing into animal-to-human transplants, telling the Associated Press that it will be crucial to share data gathered from this experimental transplant before using the surgery on other patients. In an essay in the Washington Post, Maschke, Center scholar Michael Gusmano, and their research collaborator Elisa Gordon called for an urgent look at the ethics and policy implications of these transplants.
As the U.S. health system reeled from the Omicron variant, the Center hosted a national health equity summit with the American Association of Medical Colleges, the American Medical Association, and the American Nurses Association. The event brought together author Isabel Wilkerson, health policy expert Daniel Dawes, and scores of other leaders to examine and find solutions for the health inequities laid bare by the pandemic. Thousands of policymakers, physicians, nurses, and researchers attended the two-day event on January 19 and 20.
In March, the Center published a special report on racism and health, calling on the field of bioethics to take the lead in efforts to remedy racial injustice and health inequities in the United States. The work was led by Center senior advisor Faith Fletcher, Keisha S. Ray of the McGovern Center for Humanities and Ethics, Virginia A. Brown of the Dell Medical School, and Patrick T. Smith of Duke University.
And the Center further explored solutions to health inequities, publishing an issue brief on the use of Federally Qualified Health Centers to support equitable access to precision medicine. The work, led by research scholars Carolyn Neuhaus, Nancy Berlinger, and Karen Maschke with Johanna Crane of the Albany Medical Center, was shared among federal health care policymakers.
The Center’s groundbreaking series, The Art of Flourishing: Conversations on Disability, led by scholar Erik Parens and Rice postdoctoral fellow Liz Bowen, concluded with a compelling look at the biased view of disability as a “family problem.”
A national survey, described in an essay in the Hastings Center Report, found a widespread practice of doing intimate exams on unconscious patients. The essay, New Findings on Unconsented Intimate Exams Suggest Racial Bias and Gender Parity, was distributed to Connecticut lawmakers at a critical moment in their discussion of legislation to prohibit unauthorized intimate exams. The legislation was signed into law in May.
Josephine Johnston, the Center’s director of research, warned prospective parents about genetic tests, telling the New York Times that a new study strengthens the argument that tests have been prematurely incorporated into fertility medicine, possibly leading patients to discard potentially viable embryos.
On the day of the Supreme Court’s landmark Dobbs decision, Liz Bowen wrote about the likely harms to people with disabilities, insights that U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand incorporated into a letter to the Department of Health and Human Services. Hastings Center president Mildred Solomon explored the implications in two virtual events. Solomon convened with physicians Deborah Bartz, Louise King, and Matthew Wynia to exam weighing professional obligations against patient harms. In a second event, bioethicist and law professor Anita Allen joined Solomon for a deep dive into the far-reaching legal implications the decision.
Solomon also moderated a groundbreaking AI & Health Bioethics Summit hosted by Google Health with the Hastings Center.
As understanding the ethical implications of AI becomes more urgent, the Center brought aboard a new research scholar, Athmeya Jayaram, to understand how we can make legitimate and fair decisions on the design and use of AI technologies.
The Center also named a new postdoctoral fellow, Mercer Gary, to work at the intersection of care and
And as the population ages, scholar Nancy Berlinger published a highly relevant special report, Advancing Housing and Health Equity for Older Adults, in collaboration with Harvard, that included four popular virtual events.
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