Illustrative image for The Bioethics Founders’ Award

The Bioethics Founders’ Award

Through The Bioethics Founders’ Award, The Hastings Center commemorates the scholars—from a wide range of disciplines including philosophy, theology, medicine, law, and the social sciences —who, beginning in 1969, accepted the Center’s invitation to join in exploring the deep moral concerns and practical issues being raised by developments in the life sciences and by medical practice and research, and who thereby helped create a new field of inquiry known as bioethics. The award recognizes individuals from any country who have made substantial, sustained contributions to bioethics which have advanced thinking and practice in medicine, the life sciences, and public policy. The award was previously named for Henry Knowles Beecher, the Harvard professor of anesthesiology who in 1976 was its first recipient. A decade earlier, Dr. Beecher helped launch the field of bioethics when he published an article in a leading medical journal setting forth examples of clinical research that he labeled “unethical” because the studies —which involved substantial risk and sometimes resulted in harm—included patients who had not been adequately informed. Recently, commentators have noted that in the preceding decades Beecher had himself conducted risky studies without informed consent. Whether or not feelings of guilt may have led him to criticize such practices, he never fully acknowledged how his own behavior had fallen short of the ethical standard that he argued investigators must follow in order not to use research subjects merely as means to advance science. The award now honors all the founders of bioethics whose pioneering work, like Beecher’s writings on research ethics and on loss of brain functions as a basis for determining death, gave birth to the field.

The award is bestowed annually by The Hastings Center’s board to individuals recommended by a selection committee consisting of fellows of the Center.

Recipients of the Award

Patricia A. King, JD, 2021

Ruth Faden, PhD, MPH, 2019

Dan W. Brock, PhD, 2018

Albert Jonsen, PhD, and Edward Frank Shotter, 2017

Leon R. Kass, MD, PhD, 2016

Renee C. Fox, PhD, 2015

Ruth Macklin, PhD, 2014

Robert M. Veatch, PhD, 2013

Thomas H. Murray, PhD, 2012

Solomon R. Benatar, MBChB, DSc (Med) and Ren-Zong Qiu, 2011

Tom L. Beauchamp, PhD and James F. Childress, PhD, 2010

Alexander M. Capron, LLB, 2009

Joanne Lynn, MD, MS, MA,  2008

Edmund D. Pellegrino, MD, MACP, 2003

Alastair V. Campbell, MA, BD, ThD, 1999

Raanan Gillon, MB, BS, FRCP, 1999

Danner Clouser, PhD, 1996

Sissela Bok, PhD, 1996

Jay Katz, MD, 1993

Daniel Callahan, PhD, 1989

Willard Gaylin, MD, 1989

Richard A. McCormick, SJ, 1988

Robert S. Morison, MD, 1984

Paul Ramsey, PhD, 1981

Joseph Fletcher, STD, 1981

Hans Jonas, PhD, 1978

Henry Knowles Beecher, MD, 1976