JHU Bioethicist To Help Guide MD Stem Cell Research

Johns Hopkins bioethicist Debra Mathews, PhD, MA, has been appointed to the Maryland Stem Cell Research Commission, which oversees the investment of state funds in human stem cell research on the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of disease.

“Maryland has been a leader in advancing ethical stem cell research,” says Mathews, assistant director for science programs at the Johns Hopkins Berman Institute of Bioethics. “I look forward to serving on the Commission and working to support high quality stem cell research in Maryland, particularly during this time of shrinking federal research budgets.”

Mathews has addressed a variety of controversial issues in stem cell research, including those related to international collaborations, the creation of human reproductive cells (sperm and eggs) and intellectual property. She is a founder and member of the Hinxton Group, an international, interdisciplinary body that makes recommendations for meeting the ethical and policy challenges posed by stem cell research.

The 15-member Maryland Stem Cell Research Commission includes two bioethicists, per its establishment by the Maryland Stem Cell Research Act of 2006. Mathews’ colleague at the Berman Institute, Jeremy Sugarman, MD, MPH, recently completed a six-year term.

Mathews joins the Commission as it prepares for the 5th Annual Maryland Stem Cell Research Symposium in Annapolis, October 4-5, 2012. In addition to research presentations and workshops on funding, the symposium offers the opportunity for networking between researchers. Collaboration and the sharing of data and materials are crucial in this field, Mathews says.

“Stem cell research is one of the most exciting and dynamic fields within biomedical science today,” says Mathews. “At this year’s symposium, the Commission has rightly provided increased time and space for researchers to learn about each other’s work and potentially spawn new projects and collaborations. I look forward to the innovative work that will come as a result.”