October 2022

Foundation Announces 2022 Bridging Bioethics Research & Policymaking Grants

In summer 2022, the Greenwall Foundation announced its newest grant initiative, Bridging Bioethics Research & Policymaking, to support innovative and practical integration of bioethics into policy. The Foundation is excited to announce the inaugural awards under this initiative: three projects that seek to bridge the divide between bioethics research results and policymaking.

Rapid developments in healthcare, science, and technology raise exciting possibilities to advance our health and well-being, but also raise complex ethical dilemmas. Strengthening the relationship between bioethics and policy can help decision-makers navigate conflicting points of view and find the best way forward.

The Foundation intentionally did not prescribe the mechanisms it would support through this initiative and welcomed creative ideas and applications. Each of the funded projects listed below have proposed a different approach to effect policy change.

Housing America’s aging society: a bioethics standpoint for policy development 
Nancy Berlinger, PhD (The Hastings Center)

Abstract: The goal of most older Americans to age in place relies on housing affordability, accessibility, and proximity to services. This project seeks to apply a “housing lens,” developed through empirical bioethics research, to age-focused policymaking. Collaboration with a socially engaged network of researchers, practitioners, and policymakers will aim to produce a set of issue briefs that critically analyze ideas at the intersection of health policy and housing policy. The issue briefs will be designed for age-focused policymakers at state and regional/local levels, reflecting their roles in incentivizing housing development and in Medicaid and other relevant state-level programs. Sharing through policymaker networks will support use.

Policies to improve assessment of inherited cancer risk
Robert Cook-Deegan, MD (Arizona State University)

Abstract: Some people die of cancer because they don’t learn of their inherited risk until it is too late.  Many of the several dozen genes associated with high cancer risk were identified three decades ago.  But interpretation of risk is still hampered by incomplete sharing and linking of data.  The Sulston Project has studied policies that might improve data flow and interpretation.  This Greenwall project will build on three years of work by partnering with Burness Communications to refine policy options, craft a communication strategy, identify key policy nodes, organize briefings, and augment web presence and use of digital tools.

Disseminating vaccine information and increasing equity during the 2023 Texas state legislative session
Kirstin Matthews, PhD (William Marsh Rice University)

Abstract: Vaccines are considered a public health success story, saving millions of lives worldwide each year. Unfortunately, the pandemic offered a vehicle to perpetuate misinformation and fears about the vaccines. The goal of this project is to promote bioethics research on vaccine access and equity through the development of a series of educational dissemination materials to share, post and hand out to Texas state legislators and their staff identifying and describing vaccine-related issues, questions and myths. Through these materials, Dr. Matthews and her team hope to address legislators’ questions, dispel existing myths and promote legislators to enact legislation to increase vaccine access and equity.

The Foundation wishes to thank everyone who responded to this initiative’s first Request for Proposals, which underscored the strong enthusiasm and critical need for translating bioethics research into concrete policy solutions. Future Requests for Proposals will be announced via the Foundation’s newsletter, social media, and blog.