Dr. Joseph Fins Awarded Prestigious Robert Wood Johnson Investigator Award for Research Into Brain Injury

Dr. Joseph Fins

NEW YORK (June 7, 2007) — Dr. Joseph Fins has been awarded a prestigious Robert Wood Johnson Investigator Award in Health Policy Research. The three-year grant will fund interdisciplinary research into best serving the needs of patients and families touched by severe brain injury.

Dr. Fins is chief of the Division of Medical Ethics in the Departments of Public Health and Medicine and professor of medicine, professor of public health, and professor of medicine in psychiatry at Weill Cornell Medical College. He is also director of medical ethics and chairman of the ethics committee at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center.

"I am very grateful to the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation for the opportunity to study this too-often ignored condition," says Dr. Fins. "Brain injury patients commonly receive what is known as custodial care. However, emerging research is challenging conventional practices and will have broad-ranging implications for health policy."

According to Dr. Fins, recent neuro-imaging studies provide a deeper understanding of how the injured brain recovers and suggests interventions to treat disorders of consciousness.

"I am very pleased that Dr. Fins has received this prestigious award. His work addresses a condition that is not adequately recognized as an important public health problem, and includes some of the fundamental epidemiological and ethics research that should pave the way toward its solution," says Dr. Alvin I. Mushlin, the Nanette Laitman Distinguished Professor of Public Health and chairman of the Department of Public Health at the Weill Cornell Medical College and Public Health Physician-in-Chief at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center.

The project, which includes collaboration with neuroscientists, 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. Additionally, according to Dr. Fins, models of care and research for patients with chronic brain injury will be proposed that may also have applicability to other chronic care conditions.

The three-year project will result in a book-length manuscript.

About the RWJ Investigator Awards in Health Policy Research

Investigator Awards in Health Policy Research is a national program of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) that aims to build the capacity of the health policy field by offering general research support for innovative ideas that are unlikely to be funded elsewhere. The program encourages investigators to think creatively about the most important problems affecting American health and health care and to contribute to the intellectual foundation of future health policy. It serves as one of RWJF's main vehicles for funding research on broad health policy issues. Grants to investigators range in size up to a maximum of $275,000 and in length from two to four years.

Weill Cornell Medical College

Weill Cornell Medical College — located in New York City — is committed to excellence in research, teaching, patient care and the advancement of the art and science of medicine. Weill Cornell, which is a principal academic affiliate of NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital, offers an innovative curriculum that integrates the teaching of basic and clinical sciences, problem-based learning, office-based preceptorships, and primary care and doctoring courses. Physicians and scientists of Weill Cornell Medical College are engaged in cutting-edge research in such areas as stem cells, genetics and gene therapy, geriatrics, neuroscience, structural biology, cardiovascular medicine, AIDS, obesity, cancer, psychiatry and public health — and continue to delve ever deeper into the molecular basis of disease in an effort to unlock the mysteries behind the human body and the malfunctions that result in serious medical disorders. Weill Cornell Medical College is the birthplace of many medical advances — from the development of the Pap test for cervical cancer to the synthesis of penicillin, the first successful embryo-biopsy pregnancy and birth in the U.S., and most recently, the world's first clinical trial for gene therapy for Parkinson's disease. Weill Cornell's Physician Organization includes 650 clinical faculty, who provide the highest quality of care to their patients. For more information, visit www.med.cornell.edu.
Andrew Klein

Weill Cornell Medicine
Office of External Affairs
Phone: (646) 962-9476