Carnegie Mellon University

A photo of Danielle Wenner

June 10, 2019

Wenner Named to Greenwall Faculty Scholars Program in Bioethics

Abby Simmons
  • Dietrich College of Humanities and Social Sciences
  • 1-412-956-9425
The Greenwall Foundation has named Carnegie Mellon University's Danielle Wenner among its Faculty Scholars for 2019-2022.

Wenner, assistant professor of philosophy in the Dietrich College of Humanities and Social Sciences, will complete a project titled "The Basic Structure Model of Research Stakeholder Obligations." The three-year, $200,000 award will enable Wenner to continue to develop a framework for thinking about research ethics that she first proposed in a 2018 paper in the Hastings Center Report and continued working on during a Caroline Miles Visiting Scholarship at the Ethox Centre at Oxford University during spring 2019.

"Professor Wenner is one of the rising stars in bioethics and research ethics whose work blends theoretical rigor with practical, applied relevance," said David Danks, head of the Department of Philosophy. "This award is a well-deserved recognition of her scholarly leadership."

Wenner's project aims to develop a justice-based approach to health research priority-setting and to determine appropriate regulatory or policy mechanisms for the implementation of that approach. She also is working to determine the implications of that approach for justice in the distribution of health advances and the knowledge gained from health research. In addition, she will investigate the extent to which existing intellectual property regimes can accommodate these insights and explore alternative approaches to intellectual property in health advances that might better promote justice.

"I'm excited to get to work on a project that I think has the potential to radically shift the way that ethicists, clinical researchers and policy-makers view the role of clinical research and the development of health interventions in our society," Wenner said. "I hope that efforts to connect the framework I'm developing to concrete policy recommendations will ultimately help to improve health research and health policy by better aligning it with the common good."

This year, the Greenwall Faculty Scholars Program selected four junior faculty members nationally to carry out innovative bioethics research. The career development program supports research that goes beyond current work in bioethics to help resolve pressing ethical issues in clinical care, biomedical research, and public policy, and creates a community that enhances future bioethics research by program scholars and alumni. Scholars and alumni attend twice-yearly meetings, where they present their works in progress, receive feedback and mentoring from the Faculty Scholars Program Committee and other scholars and alumni.

In addition to her appointment in CMU's Philosophy Department, Wenner also is the associate director of CMU's Center for Ethics & Policy and an affiliate faculty member at the University of Pittsburgh's Center for Bioethics and Health Law.

Wenner's research seeks to bring insights from political philosophy to bear on questions in applied ethics. Her work focuses primarily on the ethics of research involving human subjects and the nature of relationships of power in research and other health-related interactions. The Greenwall Foundation-funded project reflects a larger theme in Wenner's research of seeking to broaden ethical analysis beyond discrete interactions to take account of relevant background conditions and structures of injustice.