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Current Grants

Neuroethics and Disorders of Consciousness I and II
Joseph J. Fins, M.D.
, PI
The Buster Family Foundation
This grant provides funding to assess the scope of misdiagnosis and neglect of patients with disorders of consciousness, consider why these patients are marginalized and outside the public eye, and develop educational materials to instruct physicians on diagnostic and prognostic skills.

Measuring Awareness in Minimally Conscious Patients
Nicholas D. Schiff, M.D.,
 PI; Joseph J. Fins, M.D., Ethics Director and Bioethicist
James S. McDonnell Foundation
This grant funds an international, eight-center study of how to accurately measure the level of awareness of minimally conscious patients by reconciling patients' brain scans with their actual function. This study brings together leading research teams from the United States, England, France, Belgium, Canada and Israel, in a collaborative aimed at sharing knowledge, expertise and data. It will include the creation of an open-source database of measurements of both healthy and consciousness-disordered people. Dr. Fins will study how best to translate the ethical aspects of the research to patients and policymakers.

Clinical and Translational Science Award
Joseph J. Fins, M.D.,
 Ethics Core Director and Bioethicist
Cathleen A. Acres, R.N., M.A., Research Subject Advocate/Nurse Ethicist
(PI: Julianne Imperato-McGinley, M.D.)
National Institutes of Health
The goal of this project is to support, advance, and promote clinical and translational research enterprises at WCMC and collaborating institutions.

Cornell Advanced Center for Interventions and Services Research (ACISR)
Joseph J. Fins, M.D., Director, Ethics Unit (PI: George Alexopoulos, MD)
National Institute of Mental Health

The mission of the CACISR is to produce and disseminate knowledge and practices aimed at reducing the burden of depression and disability in older persons, promoting the growth of investigators, and advancing the methodology needed to carry this work into the future.

Daniel Patrick Moynihan and the Defense of Academic Medicine
Joseph J. Fins, M.D.,
Herb Pardes NYPH Health Policy Center
This grant will support a scholarly exploration of Moynihan's legislative record, writings and letters in an effort to understand the origins and dimensions of DPM's advocacy. The goal is to bring his perspective back into the discourse over the future and shape of our health care system as reforms threaten to change academic medicine as we know it.

Direct CNS Administration of a Replication Deficient Adeno-Associated Virus Gene Transfer Vector Serotype rh.10 Expressing the Human CLN2 cDNA to Children with Late Infantile Neuronal Ceroid Lipofuscinosis
Inmaculada de Melo-Martín, Ph.D., M.S., Co-I (PI: Ronald Crystal, MD)
National Institutes of Health/National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS)
This proposal is a clinical therapeutic study using a non-human primate derived adeno-associated virus serotype gene transfer vector to transfer the CLN2 cDNA to the brain of children with Late infantile neuronal ceroid lipofuscinosis (LINCL).

Finding Alternatives to Obtaining Patient Informed Consent in Qatar
Pablo Rodríguez del Pozo, M.D., Ph.D., J.D., PI
Qatar National Research Fund-Undergraduate Research Experience Project
The project explores culturally appropriate ways to obtain valid, fully informed consent from patients and from potential research subjects in Qatar.

Recent Grants

Fostering Medical Professionalism: Enhancing Sensitivity and Responsiveness to Disability
Inmaculada de Melo-Martín, Ph.D., M.S., C. Ronald MacKenzie, M.D., co-PIs
Hospital for Special Surgery (HSS) Academy of Rheumatology Medical Educators
8/1/2012 - 7/31/2013
The researchers are developing and will teach a six-week seminar for residents and fellows in orthopedics and rheumatology, as well as for faculty involved in the mentoring of residents and fellows. The main goal of this seminar will be the enhancement of ethical reflection and understanding. The focus of the proposed seminar sessions is sensitivity and responsiveness to disability concerns. A variety of methods, including didactic lectures, panel debates, online discussions of pertinent medical cases, as well as critical reflection on relevant readings and personal experiences, will be used.

Surrogates and the Injured Self: How Surrogates Make Decisions for Patients with Disorders of Consciousness: A Pilot Study
Alexandra Suppes, Ph.D., PI; Joseph J. Fins, M.D., M.A.C.P., Mentor
Weill Cornell Clinical and Translational Science Center (CTSC)
6/1/2011- 5/31/2013

Minds Apart: Severe Brain Injury and Health Policy
Joseph J. Fins, M.D., PI
Robert Wood Johnson Foundation
This Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Investigator Award in Health Policy Research will fund interdisciplinary research into how best to serve the needs of patients with severe brain injury and their families through better clinical services and the promotion of clinical research. The work is designed to improve clinician-family communication about brain injury, inform educational standards for professionals, and articulate a justification for research in patients who are unable to provide consent.

Doctors' Attitudes on Disclosing Information to Cancer Patients in Qatar
Pablo Rodríguez del Pozo, M.D., Ph.D., J.D. (Faculty Tutor); Deena Wafadari, Rim Elchaki, Tarek Elshazly, Student Coinvestigators; Joseph J. Fins, M.D., Mentor
Qatar National Research Fund-Undergraduate Research Experience Project
The project will survey doctors in Qatar and is aimed at understanding the cultural specificities of doctors' individual policies on disclosing diagnosis to patients with cancer. This is a small-scale project that should produce preliminary data for a larger regional, multi-institutional proposal that would include Qatar and other countries in the Gulf, and will be jointly carried out by both Weill Cornell campuses, Doha and New York.

Finding Alternatives to Obtaining Patient Informed Consent in Qatar: A Pilot Study
Pablo Rodríguez del Pozo, M.D., Ph.D., J.D., Ziyad Mahfoud, Ph.D., PIs
Weill Cornell Medical College/Qatar
The project is aimed at producing preliminary data on exploring culturally appropriate ways to obtain valid, fully informed consent from patients and from potential research subjects in Qatar. The pilot will consist of a couple of focus group sessions from which themes and topics will be picked up to design a small survey.

Biology and Ethics: Evaluating the Claim that Biotechnologies Pose a Threat to Human Dignity
Inmaculada de Melo-Martín, Ph.D., M.S., PI
National Science Foundation
This two-year study will examine the ways in which the concept of human dignity is used in current debates about contentious biotechnologies such as human genetic enhancement, the creation of human-nonhuman chimeras, and embryonic stem cell research. It will provide the first systematic assessment of what several influential scholars and recent national and international science policy documents mean when they say that these technologies threaten human dignity. Thus, the research can play a role in improving dialogue between the sciences and the humanities, and between the sciences and society.

Sustaining and Building Research Infrastructure for the Study of Disorders of Consciousness
Joseph J. Fins, M.D.
, PI
Richard Lounsbery Foundation
The goal of this project is to further develop the infrastructure necessary for the systematic study of brain injury at WCMC and Rockefeller University.

CP Snow: Two Cultures and the Scientific Revolution 
Joseph J. Fins, M.D.Inmaculada de Melo-Martín, Ph.D., M.S., PIs
Richard Lounsbery Foundation
This grant funded a year-long lecture series (2008-2009), a special issue in Technology in Society (Jan 2010), and an upcoming book.

Mending the Brain, Minding our Ethics II
Joseph J. Fins, M.D.
 (In collaboration with the Department of Neurology. PI: Nicolas Schiff, M.D.)
Charles A. Dana Foundation

Advanced Research Institute in Geriatric Psychiatry
Joseph J. Fins, M.D.
 (In collaboration with the Department of Psychiatry. PI: Martha Bruce, Ph.D., M.P.H.)
National Institute of Mental Health

Framework Program for Global Health
Inmaculada de Melo-Martín, Ph.D., M.S.
, Mentor (In collaboration with the Department of Medicine. PI: Warren Johnson, M.D.)
Fogarty International Center
10/1/06 - 9/30/09 
The aim of this multidisciplinary project, developed by faculty at the five Cornell University colleges, will create a global health curriculum that combines new courses and seminars with existing courses and domestic and international research experiences and internships to provide a career pathway for the next generation of global health scientists, and will encourage researchers in global health to engage in greater collaboration and interactions in research.

Down Syndrome in Qatar- a Survey on Public and Family Perception
Pablo Rodríguez del Pozo, M.D., Ph.D., J.D. (Faculty Tutor); Abdulhad Al-Saei, Arnab Chowdhury and Sanah Sadiq, Student Coinvestigators;
Qatar National Research Fund-Undergraduate Research Experience Project
The students surveyed public and family perception of Down syndrome in Qatar.

Contact Information

Medical Ethics

Joseph J. Fins, M.D., Chief

Joan Walker, Administrative Director
435 E. 70th St., 4J
Tel: (212) 746-1126 
Fax: (212) 746-8738

Andrew Crawford, Divisional Administrator
1320 York Avenue, Room HT-613
Tel: (212) 746-4113
Fax: (212) 746-8793

Kerrine Simone Carter, Administrative Assistant
435 E. 70th St., 4J
Tel: (212) 746-4246
Fax: (212) 746-8738

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