September 2023

Foundation Announces 2023 Bridging Bioethics Research & Policymaking Grants

The Foundation is pleased to announce the latest awards under its Bridging Bioethics Research & Policymaking initiative: two 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. Each of the funded projects listed below have proposed a unique approach to effect policy change.

Protecting the public from bad actors in medicine: A policy change workshop for State Medical Boards
Tristan McIntosh, PhD (Washington University)

Abstract: There is nearly eight-fold variation across the 70 State Medical Boards (SMBs) in the U.S. in disciplinary actions taken against physicians who engage in egregious wrongdoing (e.g., sexually abusing patients, performing unnecessary invasive procedures, improperly prescribing controlled substances). Prof. McIntosh’s team’s prior work resulted in 56 expert-informed consensus-based recommendations for SMBs to more effectively and uniformly protect the public. SMBs are well-positioned to affect board policy change, but intentional, dedicated planning is needed to successfully implement recommendations by transforming board policies. The team will partner with the Federation of State Medical Boards and Administrators in Medicine to host an intensive and practical workshop for SMB members and staff to develop individual board action plans for implementing recommendations into board policy. This workshop will aim to support more effective and uniform policy adoption across SMBs to better protect the public from harmful physician conduct.

Strengthening Genetic Privacy Law Through Bioethics
Anya Prince, JD (University of Iowa)

Abstract: In the last three years alone, 20% of U.S. states - large and small, conservative and liberal leaning - have enacted genetic privacy bills targeted at direct-to-consumer genetic test data. The legislation bolsters important informed consent protections, but it fails to adequately address public concerns regarding use of this genetic data by third parties, particularly law enforcement and life, long-term care, and disability insurers. Existing bioethics research has identified key elements of legal protection that will more robustly address public privacy concerns. This project seeks to build upon current state legislative momentum to strengthen the genetic privacy laws across the country. Working with data visualization experts, the team will develop a website that aims to educate policymakers, journalists, and others about the importance of key issues related to genetic privacy and about research-informed best practice via a map highlighting current trends in genetic legislation, as well as educational information and links to further resources.

The Bridging Bioethics Research & Policymaking initiative was launched in 2022 to support innovative and practical integration of bioethics into policy. The Foundation will announce future Requests for Proposals via its newsletter, social media, and website.