PRESS RELEASE: 03.24.11 Thomas H. Murray to Step Down as President of The Hastings Center

Twelve years at helm and third leader of Hastings, a founding bioethics institution
(Garrison, NY) Thomas H. Murray, president and CEO of The Hastings Center, announced that he will step down in 2012 from his leadership role at the bioethics research institution. Murray, who has been president for 12 years, will continue his work on Hastings Center research projects and remain a Hastings Center Fellow.

“I am pleased to hand over the leadership of the Center at such a high point in its history. Having helped to establish the field of bioethics, The Hastings Center remains one of its foremost research institutions and a leader in communicating bioethics,” Murray told the Board of Directors and staff. “It has been a privilege to work with my colleagues at the Center and on our Board, along with our worldwide network of elected Fellows, as president. Together, we have examined and helped shape some of the leading bioethical issues facing society, and I am exceedingly proud of our work. I look forward to continuing to work on the research projects at the Center begun during my tenure as president, as well as my writing projects, and will continue to participate in the life of the Hastings Center as a Fellow.”

“Tom Murray has been a transformative president, leading The Hastings Center as well as the field of bioethics into the 21stcentury,” said David L. Roscoe, chairman of the Board of Directors. “During his tenure, Tom enhanced the Center’s position as a pre-eminent research institution, while expanding its communications and public affairs capacity to reach a wider audience of journalists, policymakers, and the public. He mentored and guided a great team of scholars and professionals that operates on full throttle, and he leaves Hastings as fiscally sound as it is intellectually rigorous. The Board knows that long after he has handed over the reins and embarked on an exciting new chapter in his life, we will continue to appreciate the innovation, energy, and pursuit of excellence he provided for well over a decade. We are fortunate that Tom will remain at the helm as we conduct a search for the next president, and are very pleased he will maintain his close association as a Fellow after the leadership transition has taken place.”

Other leaders in bioethics commented on Murray’s contribution to the field, as well as The Hastings Center’s influence.

Harold Shapiro, president emeritus of Princeton University and the University of Michigan, a Hastings Center Fellow, and a former Hastings Center Board Member, said: “Tom Murray has been one of the pioneers and leaders in bioethics over the last generation, a time that has witnessed an extraordinary revival of interest and intellectual development in this field. Moreover his leadership of The Hastings Center has both reinvigorated its programs and expanded the interests of this important institution. His contributions to bioethics and The Hastings Center leave a permanent legacy for us all.”

Amy Gutmann, chair of the Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues, president of the University of Pennsylvania, and a Hastings Center Fellow, noted the influence of both The Hastings Center and Murray. “Since its founding in 1969, The Hastings Center has nurtured so many bioethics scholars and leaders that we no longer attempt to count the number of Hastings alumni and friends who are writing and teaching in bioethics centers across the nation and around the world,” she said. “Tom is a wise and knowledgeable expert in bioethics – and a wonderfully caring man – who has skillfully led Hastings into the 21stcentury. Thanks to his superb leadership, Hastings will continue to help foster the socially and ethically responsible advancement of science, medicine, and technology for many years to come.”

During his tenure, Murray greatly advanced the nonpartisan Hastings Center’s visibility and public affairs and communications capacity by launching Bioethics and the Public Interest, an initiative responding to increasing public attention to bioethics issues and to the impact of a polarized political climate on policymaking concerning these issues. In addition to creating a robust public information office and making Hastings a nexus for bioethics resources for journalists and policymakers, the initiative led to an NIH-funded public television project on bioethics, co-produced by NOVA, WGBH-Boston, and The Hastings Center. The program will air in spring 2012, reaching an estimated 4 million television viewers and 1.5 million Web site users.

The Bioethics and the Public Interest initiative was supported by a $2.1 million grant from the Ford Foundation in 2007, and it launched a comprehensive fundraising campaign, the first phase of which will be completed by Murray’s departure.

At the same time, the Center’s research capacity thrived under Murray’s stewardship. Center scholars are leaders in foundational and applied research on issues involving children and families; emerging biotechnologies; research ethics; and issues at the intersection of health policy, values, and justice. Recent projects include an examination of controversies in the diagnosis and treatment of children with behavioral disturbances, funded by the National Institutes of Mental Health; an investigation of ethical issues in synthetic biology, funded by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation; NIH-funded research on biobanking and genetic testing; a revision of The Hastings Center’s guidelines on end-of-life care, funded by the Donaghue Foundation andSussman Charitable Trust; the Values Connection, a blog and publication targeted to the recent health reform debate; the Health Care Cost Monitor, the only blog devoted to health care costs; cross-cultural work on aging and health care; and research on the uses and misuses of neuroimaging, funded by the DANA Foundation.

A greatly enhanced Web site and new media capacity that is groundbreaking in bioethics, which were developed under Murray’s leadership, help expand the reach of this research. In his capacity as President, Murray is also publisher of the Center’s two flagship, peer-reviewed journals, the Hastings Center Report and IRB: Ethics & Human Research.

Murray is The Hastings Center’s third president, following cofounder Daniel Callahan, president from the Center’s inception in 1969 to 1996, and Strachan Donnelley, president from 1996 to 1999.

“Tom Murray first worked with the Center in 1979, when he joined us as a scholar from the National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship program,” said Callahan. “We were impressed with him and offered him a permanent staff position following the NEH fellowship, which he stayed in until 1984, and after which we remained in touch. Tom was my instant first choice when we were searching for a new president in 1998, and he exceeded our already high expectations. He maintained the Center’s original interdisciplinary model, but brilliantly brought us into a new era – extending our outreach and opening up fresh paths in bioethics. As one of the cofounders of the Center, I could have asked for nothing better.”

“As usual, Dan said it first and said it all,” said cofounder Willard Gaylin. “Tom was the ideal choice to carry the Center forward, and we are grateful for the dedicated and brilliant way he managed it.”

Murray came to The Hastings Center as president in 1999 from Case Western Reserve University, where he was Director of the Center for Biomedical Ethics in the School of Medicine and the Susan E. Watson Professor of Bioethics. He is on the editorial boards ofThe Hastings Center Reportand numerous other journals. He has served as president of the Society for Health and Human Values and of the American Society for Bioethics and Humanities, and was a presidential appointee to the National Bioethics Advisory Commission from 1996 to 2001, where he was chair of the subcommittee on genetics. He chairs the World Anti-Doping Agency’s Ethical Committee.

Murray’s own research includes groundbreaking work on families and the bonds connecting them, newborn screening, research ethics, genetics, and enhancement. Currently, he is working on a book on fairness in sport, and is the principal investigator in a Hastings project on synthetic biology funded by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. He received his PhD in social psychology from Princeton University.

Contact: Michael Turton, Communications Associate   845 424 4040 ext. 242