A leading scholar whose work has guided public policy in bioethics has been selected to receive the Patricia Price Browne Prize in Biomedical Ethics, administered by the University of Oklahoma College of Medicine. This year’s recipient is Thomas H. Murray, president emeritus and senior research scholar at The Hastings Center in Garrison, N.Y.
The Hastings Center is an independent, nonpartisan and nonprofit bioethics research institute founded in 1969 to address fundamental ethical issues in the areas of health, medicine and the environment as they affect individuals, communities and societies.
The $10,000 prize, awarded every two years, was established to honor Oklahoma City community leader Patricia Price Browne by selecting an individual who “demonstrates the highest standards in the medical or professional ethics fields.”
“The Patricia Price Browne Prize in Biomedical Ethics recognizes eminent leaders who guide the national discourse regarding the most complicated biomedical issues of our time,” said M. Dewayne Andrews, M.D., senior vice president and provost and executive dean of the OU College of Medicine. “Dr. Murray’s contributions have framed many of those national discussions, and we are pleased to have him as a deserving recipient.”
Henry Browne, husband of the individual for whom the prize is named, said, “With the selection of Dr. Murray, it is a pleasure to see the Patricia Price Browne Prize in Biomedical Ethics continue to advance the values that Patricia held so dearly.”
“I am especially pleased that Dr. Murray has been selected to receive the Patricia Price Browne Prize. His contributions in biomedical ethics have been not only broad and deep, but his contributions have been sustained for a long time. He has meaningfully influenced our society’s approaches to many difficult scientific issues,” said Terrence L. Stull, M.D., Patricia Price Browne Distinguished Chair.
In the course of the past 30 years, Murray has established himself as a leader in the field of biomedical ethics – a system of moral principles that apply values and judgments to the practice of medicine – working to broaden and deepen, as well as advance, the field. He is especially acknowledged for his rare ability to connect equally strongly with academics, policy makers and the public on a broad spectrum of modern health care matters, including health care policy, end-of-life and palliative care, drugs in sports, patient rights, stem cell research and therapies and synthetic biology.
During his tenure as president of The Hastings Center, Murray has gained the respect of his colleagues for his efforts to sharpen the center’s research work; strengthen its journal, The Hastings Center Report; and broaden the center’s mission.
Murray secured a grant from the Ford Foundation that allowed the center to launch a “Bioethics in the Public Interest” initiative, which allowed The Hastings Center to increase its participation in public life. One achievement resulting from the initiative was a show titled “Cracking Your Genetic Code,” which aired on NOVA in March. Murray served as consulting executive editor for the program.
Murray’s work in ethics and genetics began in the early 1980s with a project on genetic screening in the workplace. He proposed a set of scientific and ethical criteria for workplace screening programs that almost immediately became the accepted standard and which laid the framework for current public policy.
He also played a key role in creating an ethical, legal and social issues research program that has guided policy on several key issues; the program later was incorporated into the ELSI Working Group of the Human Genome Project.
While serving on the faculty of Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine from 1987 to 1999, he founded the school’s prestigious bioethics center and served as its head for 12 years. Earlier, he also was active in building the bioethics program at the University of Texas, Galveston.
He is the author of many articles and books on a broad range of bioethics subjects, including the acclaimed 1996 book The Worth of a Child, which examines the prominent innovations in reproduction and proposes a model of mutuality for the complex parent-child relationship, and continues to be influential in teaching and scholarship on biotechnologies that affect this relationship.
During the course of his career, Murray has garnered numerous awards and honors, including this year’s Beecher Award, presented by The Hastings Center in recognition of his extraordinary contributions to the field of bioethics. He also has served on numerous national and international committees, including a Presidential Appointment to the National Bioethics Advisory Committee, and has held numerous leadership positions in organizations and institutions dedicated to enhancing bioethics inquiry.