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News Release

Friday, October 24, 2003

Contact: NCRR Press Office
(301) 435-0888

HHS Awards $14 Million to Support Bioethics Research Center At Tuskegee University

HHS Secretary Tommy G. Thompson today announced the award of a $14 million grant to Tuskegee University to complete its National Center for Bioethics in Research and Health Care (NCBRHC). The grant from HHS' National Institutes of Health will allow the university to provide research and teaching facilities for faculty, researchers and visiting scholars for studies in bioethics, public health and integrated bioscience programs.

Tuskegee University's center is the nation's first bioethics institute dedicated to addressing issues that involve African Americans and other underserved populations. It was created in part to address the legacy of the Tuskegee Syphilis Study, which took place from 1932 to 1972 in Macon County, Alabama.

"This national center will serve as a place of excellence that will work to ensure patient protection in our country and provide guidance to other countries around the world," Secretary Thompson said. "Tuskegee University serves as an ideal place to house this center, both professionally and symbolically. The center will stand as a testament to those who suffered so unjustly in the name of science."

The center was established in 1999 with funding from HHS' Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The grant announced today comes from two NIH components -- the National Center for Research Resources (NCRR) and the National Center on Minority Health and Health Disparities (NCMHD).

"A critical element of biomedical research is to assure all citizens that their rights are protected when they participate in research projects and that core ethical principles are exercised by all sectors of the health care profession," NIH Director Elias A. Zerhouni, M.D., said. "The Bioethics Center at Tuskegee University helps us promote sound medical research practice by educating researchers and bringing greater attention to bioethical issues that impact disadvantaged populations."

The new grant will enable the university to renovate the former hospital in which the syphilis study was conducted, in part, as well as a residence hall in order to consolidate the center into one location and provide space for the Bioethics Living Learning Complex. The complex will house visiting scholars and interns who participate in bioethics programs. Participants will include representatives from various health professions, including public health, veterinary medicine, nursing, social work and other allied professions, as well as scholars in the humanities.

"This funding enables us to form a critical mass of dedicated scholars and scientists fully committed to the principles and practices of interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary research, policy analysis, and public discourse, all in the interest of improving public health and health policy," said Benjamin F. Payton, Ph.D., president of Tuskegee University. "The center will develop and utilize viable synergistic and collaborative research models and analytic frameworks designed to take into account the neglected concerns of vulnerable populations, and to transform the relatively new field of bioethics into a more inclusive and useful discipline."

The center's objectives also include providing awareness of historical and contemporary medical treatment of African Americans and assisting in the elimination of racial disparities in health and improving access to quality health care and health services. The center serves as a resource for primary and secondary research exploring the role of cultural diversity in the bioethics community.

The grant was awarded under NCRR's Research Facilities Improvement Program, which provides funding to public and nonprofit private institutions to expand, remodel, and renovate existing research facilities or construct new research facilities. These facilities must support basic and clinical biomedical or behavioral research and related research training.


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Last Revised: October 24, 2003