The Hastings Center

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The Hastings Center
TypeBioethics research institute
Vardit Ravitsky
Revenue (2022)
Expenses (2022)$4,469,935[1]

The Hastings Center is an independent, nonpartisan bioethics research institute and think tank based in Garrison, New York.[2] It was instrumental in establishing the field of bioethics and is among the most prestigious bioethics and health policy institutes in the world.[3][4][5]

Its mission is to address ethical issues in health care, science, and technology.[6] Through its projects and publications and its public engagement, the center aims to influence the ideas of health policy-makers, regulators, health care professionals, lawyers, journalists, and students.[7]

The center is funded by grants, private donations and journal subscriptions.[8][9]


The Hastings Center was founded in 1969 by Daniel Callahan[10] and Willard Gaylin, originally as the Institute of Society, Ethics, and the Life Sciences. It was first located in Hastings-on-Hudson, New York, and is now in Garrison, New York, on the former Woodlawn estate designed by Richard Upjohn.[11]

In the early years, the center identified four core issues as its domain: population control, including respect for procreative freedom; behavior control, which responded to early discoveries about the brain-behavior link and efforts to find ways to modify behaviors and prompted reassessment of what is "normal"; death and dying, including the ongoing controversy over defining death; and ethical issues in human genetics.[12] The Hastings Center continues to work on these issues and has expanded to other areas, including the human impact on nature, governance of emerging technologies such as CRISPR gene editing, and wise and compassionate health care.


The Hastings Center publishes two journals, the Hastings Center Report,[13][14] and Ethics & Human Research (formerly IRB: Ethics & Human Research).[15][16] Each journal is published six times per year. Hastings Center Report, founded in 1970, features scholarship and commentary in bioethics. It also periodically features special reports, published as supplements, many of which grow out of the center's research projects. Ethics & Human Research aims to foster critical analysis of issues in science and health care that have implications for human biomedical and behavioral research.[citation needed]

Hastings Bioethics Forum publishes individual perspectives on current issues in bioethics.[17]

Bioethics Briefings[18] is a free online Hastings Center resource for students, journalists, and policymakers on bioethics issues of high public interest, such as abortion, brain injury, organ transplantation, physician-assisted death, and stem cell research. The chapters are written by leading ethicists and are nonpartisan, describing topics from a range of perspectives that are grounded in scientific facts.


The Hastings Center's projects, many of which are carried out by interdisciplinary research teams, focus on four areas: the human lifespan, health and health care, science and technology, and the environment.[19] Their scholarship addresses key themes pertaining to just health care for all people and the wise use of emerging technology.

Research projects consist of seminar-style meetings that bring together people with diverse views and expertise to address issues that pose dilemmas and challenges to society. Recent projects include The Ethical Implications of Social and Behavioral Genomics, which made recommendations for responsibly conducting and communicating controversial research on the genetic contributions to human social and behavioral characteristics; Public Deliberation on Gene Editing in the Wild, which explored initiatives being developed to use gene editing technologies to modify populations of insects and other wild organisms; Actionable Ethics Oversight of Human-Animal Chimera Research, which asks What does “humanization” mean, and how is it measured or detected?; and ongoing work on the new and complex needs of our aging society.[20]

New Hastings Center research focuses on the ethical implications of artificial intelligence in health care. Hastings Center president Vardit Ravitsky is a principal investigator on two Bridge2AI research projects funded by the National Institutes of Health. One project is looking at the use of AI to help diagnose and treat diseases such as cancer and depression by analyzing the sound of a patient’s voice. The other project seeks to improve understanding of the relationship between genetics and disease expression.

Hastings Center research strives to frame and explore issues that inform professional practice, public conversation, and policy. It has a longstanding commitment to public engagement.

The Robert S. Morison Library, located at the center's offices in Garrison, New York, serves as a resource for Hastings' scholars, fellows and visitors.[21]


The Hastings Center is recognized as having established bioethics as a field of study.[22]

The Hastings Center's 1987 "Guidelines on the Termination of Life-Sustaining Treatment and the Care of the Dying" was foundational in setting the ethical and legal framework for U.S. medical decision-making.[23][24] It was cited in the 1990 Supreme Court ruling in Cruzan v. Director, Missouri Department of Health, which established patients' constitutional right to refuse life-sustaining treatment and affirmed that surrogates could make decisions for patients lacking that capacity. An updated, expanded edition, The Hastings Center Guidelines for Decisions on Life-Sustaining Treatment and Care Near the End of Life, was published in 2013.[25]

Recommendations from The Hastings Center's Undocumented Patients project in partnership with the New York Immigration Coalition [26] informed New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio's announcement in January 2019 that New York City would guarantee comprehensive health care for all New Yorkers, regardless of immigration status.[27]

Hastings Center research scholars are frequently called upon for policy advice by committees and agencies at both the federal and state levels.[22] Recent examples include Hastings Center president Vardit Ravitsky, who is serving on the National Academy of Medicine’s Leadership Consortium, the Health Care Artificial Intelligence Code of Conduct (AICC), The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine's Gene Drives on the Horizon report, which was produced by a committee that included Hastings Center research scholar Gregory Kaebnick,[28] and the National Academies Physician-Assisted Death workshop, whose planning committee included Hastings research scholar Nancy Berlinger.[29]

Early in the Covid-19 pandemic, The Hastings Center convened a national team of health care experts to produce three timely guidance documents for health care institutions to use when making difficult decisions about scarce resource allocation during the pandemic. The guidelines were used as references for health care organizations, lawyers, and journalists.

In addition to the journals, The Hastings Center publishes special reports several times a year. Time to Rebuild: Essays on Trust in Health Care and Science, is a Hastings Center special report that looks at trust and trustworthiness in science and health care. A Critical Moment in Bioethics: Reckoning with Anti-Black Racism through Intergenerational Dialogue, is a Hastings Center special report that calls on the field of bioethics to take the lead in efforts to remedy racial injustice and health inequities in the United States.

The Hastings Center has taken a lead in addressing racial injustice in the field of bioethics with two key educational programs, the Sadler Scholars, and the Summer Bioethics Program for Underrepresented Undergraduates. The Sadler Scholars are a select group of doctoral students with research interests in bioethics who are from racial or ethnic groups underrepresented in disciplines relevant to bioethics. The Summer Bioethics Program for Underrepresented Undergraduates is a paid, five-day online program for undergraduate students from groups that are underrepresented in bioethics.

Notable fellows, past and present[edit]

Hastings Center fellows are elected for their contributions to informing scholarship or public understanding of the complex ethical issues in health, health care, and life sciences research.


The Bioethics Founders' Award

The Hastings Center's Bioethics Founders' Award (formerly called the Henry Knowles Beecher Award) [30] recognizes people who have made a lifetime contribution to ethics and life sciences. A committee of Hastings Center Fellows convenes to nominate candidates for the award. Its inaugural recipient was Henry K. Beecher.

The Hastings Center Cunniff-Dixon Physician and Nursing Awards

The Hastings Center and the Cunniff-Dixon Foundation established The Hastings Center Cunniff-Dixon Physician and Nursing Awards, which recognize doctors and nurses who give exemplary care to patients nearing the end of life.[31]


  1. ^ a b "The Hastings Center Inc" (PDF). Foundation Center. Retrieved February 27, 2019.
  2. ^ "Charity Navigator Report". Charity Navigator.
  3. ^ "Pew Forum". Pew Research Center. December 7, 2004.
  4. ^ Levin BW, Fleischman AR (2002). "Public Health and Bioethics: The Benefits of Collaboration". Am J Public Health. US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health. 92 (2): 165–7. doi:10.2105/ajph.92.2.165. PMC 1447034. PMID 11818283.
  5. ^ "About | Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy".
  6. ^ "Our Mission - The Hastings Center". The Hastings Center. Retrieved March 17, 2017.
  7. ^ "Hastings Scholars - The Hastings Center". The Hastings Center. Retrieved March 17, 2017.
  8. ^ "Hastings Center, Inc. - GuideStar Profile". Retrieved April 18, 2018.
  9. ^ "Hastings Center Inc in Garrison, New York (NY) -". Retrieved April 18, 2018.
  10. ^ Gustavus Adolphus College
  11. ^ "The Hastings Center Releases Second Edition of Guidelines". July 2, 2013. Retrieved April 18, 2018.
  12. ^ "at Forty: A Look at Its Founding Four Issues". The Hastings Center.
  13. ^ "Medical Xpress - medical research advances and health news". Retrieved April 18, 2018.
  14. ^ "Report". The Hastings Center. Retrieved September 7, 2012.
  15. ^ "Ethics & Human Research". The Hastings Center. Retrieved March 23, 2020.
  16. ^ "IRB: Ethics & Human Research". The Hastings Center. Retrieved September 24, 2012.
  17. ^ "Hastings Bioethics Forum Blog - The Hastings Center". The Hastings Center. Retrieved March 17, 2017.
  18. ^ "Hastings Center Bioethics Briefings". The Hastings Center.
  19. ^ "Current Projects - The Hastings Center". The Hastings Center. Retrieved March 17, 2017.
  20. ^ "Current Projects". The Hastings Center.
  21. ^ "Library Detail: The Hastings Center, Robert S. Morison Library - The NYSCA Literary Map of New York State and The NYSCA Literary Tree". Retrieved April 18, 2018.
  22. ^ a b Callahan, D. (December 17, 1989). "Two Decades as 'Honest Brokers' for Medicine's Moral Issues". The New York Times. Vol. 33, no. 1. pp. 11–20. doi:10.1007/s11017-011-9202-0. PMID 22198414.
  23. ^ Laurie Barclay, MD (May 12, 2013). "End-of-Life Care Guidelines Updated". Retrieved October 15, 2019.
  24. ^ Berlinger, Nancy (May 24, 2013). The Hastings Center Guidelines for Decisions on Life-Sustaining Treatment and Care Near the End of Life (1st ed.). Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-997455-9. {{cite book}}: |work= ignored (help)CS1 maint: date and year (link)
  25. ^ "FindLaw's United States Supreme Court case and opinions". Findlaw.
  26. ^[bare URL PDF]
  27. ^ "Mayor de Blasio Announces Plan to Guarantee Health Care for all New Yorkers". January 8, 2019.
  28. ^ Committee on Gene Drive Research in Non-Human Organisms: Recommendations for Responsible Conduct; Board On Life, Sciences; Division on Earth Life Studies; National Academies Of Sciences, Engineering (June 8, 2016). Gene Drives on the Horizon: Advancing Science, Navigating Uncertainty, and Aligning Research with Public Values. doi:10.17226/23405. ISBN 978-0-309-43787-5. PMID 27536751.
  29. ^ "Physician-Assisted Death: Scanning the Landscape and Potential Approaches".
  30. ^ "Henry Knowles Beecher Award". The Hastings Center.
  31. ^ "Hastings Center Cunniff-Dixon Physician Awards". The Hastings Center. Retrieved October 15, 2019.

External links[edit]