Institute Announces Andreas C. Dracopoulos Directorship

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March 10, 2014

Johns Hopkins Berman Institute of Bioethics Announces Andreas C. Dracopoulos Directorship

The Johns Hopkins Berman Institute of Bioethics has marked a major milestone in its history with the endowment of its directorship, ensuring leadership for the institute’s programs in perpetuity.  Made possible by a gift from the long-time Berman Institute supporter and board member for whom it is named, the Andreas C. Dracopoulos Directorship further distinguishes the Berman Institute as the first center of bioethics scholarship known to have this type of endowed directorship.

“Mr. Dracopoulos’ extraordinary generosity further secures the Berman Institute’s future.  It will enable us to multiply the impact of our work and mission, helping to shape and respond to the pressing bioethics issues of this generation, and those to come,” says Ruth R. Faden, Director of the Berman Institute and the Philip Franklin Wagley Professor of Biomedical Ethics.

“I don’t think of this donation as a gift, because the Berman Institute has earned this. Rather, I consider it a recognition of what the Institute has already achieved,” says Dracopoulos. “It’s my hope this will spur both the University and the Berman Institute to take bioethics at Johns Hopkins to the next level.”

Bioethics as a field is only a few generations old, and thus does not have the same history with philanthropists as other areas of health and academics, Faden explains. Generosity and foresight like Dracopoulos’ is helping to establish and fortify the field as a permanent feature of the academy, she says.

“We are truly grateful for Andreas’ extraordinary support of the Berman Institute.  This gift embodies the depth of Andreas’ commitment to Berman’s pathbreaking work in bioethics, his vision for its continued success and, most importantly, his great humanity,” says Ronald J. Daniels, President of Johns Hopkins University.

In addition to serving on the Berman Institute’s Advisory Board, Dracopoulos is a member of the Johns Hopkins Board of Trustees.  As president of the Stavros Niarchos Foundation, Dracopoulos has supported initiatives across the University, including seed money for the Berman Institute’s “rapid response” communications program, which facilitates the faculty’s timely public outreach on pressing bioethics issues as they arise.  Globally, Dracopoulos and the Stavros Niarchos Foundation contribute to diverse efforts in health, education, social welfare and culture that they anticipate will have broad, lasting and positive social impact.

With more than 30 faculty members representing a range of disciplines including philosophy, medicine, public health, biomedical science, social science and law, the Berman Institute is one of the world’s largest and most distinguished centers of bioethics.

Johns Hopkins recognizes the Andreas C. Dracopoulos Directorship as a contribution to Rising to the Challenge: The Campaign for Johns Hopkins, an effort to raise $4.5 billion, primarily to support students, faculty, and clinicians and interdisciplinary solutions to some of humanity’s most important problems.  The campaign, supporting both Johns Hopkins University and Johns Hopkins Medicine, was publicly launched in May 2013 and is targeted for completion in 2017.  Including the Dracopoulos gift, more than $2.4 billion has been committed so far.


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The Berman Institute Mourns and Honors John M. Freeman, founder of Johns Hopkins Ethics Committee

Dr. John M. FreemanThe Berman Institute family is deeply saddened, but also proud to honor and remember one of the Institute’s founding faculty members, John M. Freeman, MD, the Lederer Professor Emeritus of Pediatric Epilepsy and Professor of Neurology and Pediatrics, who passed away on Friday, January 3, 2014.

A true pioneer in both medicine and biomedical ethics, Dr. Freeman was instrumental in the creation of several Johns Hopkins institutions that have forever changed its culture and quality of care for the better: the Division of Pediatric Neurology, the Johns Hopkins Ethics Committee, and the Johns Hopkins Berman Institute of Bioethics.

“John was an institutional visionary, as well as a phenomenal and extraordinary mentor,” says Berman Institute founding director Ruth Faden, PhD, MPH.  “He was absolutely certain that we could have a world-class bioethics program at Hopkins if we never gave up.   ‘Build it and they will come,’ was something John said to us time and time again,” Faden recalls.   “And we didn’t give up, and we did get a phenomenal first-rate program here at Hopkins, and John was just critical; he was the person who had the unflagging confidence in a future for bioethics at Johns Hopkins.”

Dr. Freeman was also a relentless advocate of two long-abandoned but highly effective therapies for treating epilepsy – a strict high-fat ketogenic diet, or “KD,” and hemispherectomy.  His commitment to these therapies led to a resurgence in their acceptance, and dramatic improvement in the lives of countless seriously ill children. 

Guy McKhann, MD, founding head of the Hopkins’ Department of Neurology, explains that Dr. Freeman’s “resurrection of KD,” which completely eliminated the epileptic seizures of many patients, was accomplished “virtually all by himself, against great skepticism and opposition.”

Margaret Moon, MD, MPH, the Freeman Family Scholar in Clinical Medical Ethics and a faculty member at the Berman Institute, remembers Dr. Freeman as “a wonderful teacher.” She says, “His gift was in his tremendous intellectual curiosity, his clear-eyed pragmatism and his open challenge to respect, investigate and then overcome obstacles.” Dr. Moon worked with Freeman to build an active program in clinical ethics education for trainees throughout Johns Hopkins. 

In addition to his skill as a pediatrician and neurologist, Dr. Moon and her colleagues at the Berman Institute remember Dr. Freeman’s humor, generosity and powerful understanding of compassion toward patients and their families.  “John was a wonderful friend and a mentor who personified intelligence energized by vision and bounded by humility,” Dr. Moon says.

See Also:

Johns Hopkins Medicine Community Mourns the Death of Internationally Renowned Pediatric Neurologist John M. Freeman

Dr. John M. Freeman, neurologist, Baltimore Sun