The blog of the 2009 – 2017 Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues

Member Spotlight: Christine Grady

christine-grady_portraitNurses take great pride that one of President Obama’s bioethics advisors is an R.N.  The President appointed Christine Grady, R.N., Ph.D., to the Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues (Bioethics Commission) in April, 2010. Grady is the Chief of the Department of Bioethics at the National Institutes of Health Clinical Center. She also serves as Head of the Department’s Section on Human Subjects Research.

In high school Grady decided to become a nurse, a career in which she grappled with bioethical questions. Grady served as a nurse in a neuro unit, a research unit, for hospice, and for Project Hope, an organization that that delivers health care,  medicine, medical supplies, volunteers, and health care education to communities  in need. In each role she came across situations and people confronting ethical issues including the type of care patients received, the boundaries and limitations of providers, patients’ access to resources, and the distribution of scarce resources.  Grady loved being a nurse and loved taking care of her patients.  But after years of helping the sick, Grady decided a Ph.D. in philosophy would help her begin to find the answers to some of these tough issues she watched patients and health care providers struggle with daily. 

Grady says that in her work on the Bioethics Commission, and in other professional capacities, she often thinks about the patients she has met along the way.  She thinks of the mother in Brazil who lost her battle with leukemia. Grady remembers how fearful the mother was of leaving her children. Years later, Grady still wonders if this mother could have survived if she had had access to quality affordable health care.  

When working in a Boston research unit she knew there were people down the street who could have benefitted from prenatal care, but they could not afford it. It bothered her that some were not receiving care, while in the acute care setting others might have three nurses assigned to their case. 

Grady has made the focus of her life’s work how to improve care for those currently in need and for future generations, while making sure that changes to care are  evidence- based and motivated by promoting patients’ best interests. Grady says she strives to speak for those who do not have the opportunity to speak for themselves.

When asked about her time spent on the Bioethics Commission Grady said, “It’s been a privilege, even being asked to be a part of this was an honor. Working with the other Commission Members has been a wonderful opportunity. Also, the staff is amazing in the depth and breadth of their backgrounds. Together we are putting out products that benefit society.”

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This is a space for the members and staff of the 2009 -2017 Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues to communicate with the public about the work of the commission and to discuss important issues in bioethics.

As of January 15th, 2017 this blog will no longer be updated but continues to be available as an archive of the work of the 2009-2017 Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues

Learn more about the 2009 - 2017 Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues.