NEW YORK--An international foundation headquartered in New York
City hopes to trigger a national debate about death and dying
in the United States. The Project on Death in America will be
funded by the Open Society Institute, one of the Soros Foundations.
The Open Society Institute will award $5 million annually to people
who are developing better approaches to the needs of the dying
(see below for information on how to apply). The awards could
go to doctors, nurses, hospice workers or scholars, or to community
workers, church groups, artists, writers, or others, who somehow
can find a way to improve the care of the dying.
The idea for the project came to philanthropist George Soros,
founder and chairman of the Soros Foundations, from his experiences
with the deaths of his parents and his reading of the works of
Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, who pioneered the study of death and dying.
To oversee the project, a nine-member advisory board has been
selected, headed by Kathleen M. Foley, MD, chief of the pain service,
Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center.
"We want to encourage a national discussion on how we care
for our dying in the United States," Dr. Foley said. "We
want Congress and the NIH to focus on the issue and to provide
policy and research leadership to help understand and transform
our current culture of dying."
"I would like to move beyond medicalization to issues of
meaning," Yale law school professor and Project Board Member
Robert A. Burt, MD, said at a press conference. "I would
suspect there is a lot of comfort being given to dying people
within communities, within parishes. Wouldn't it be nice to get
some money to them so they could train others? We want to get
a proposal letter with smudges on it that looks like a good idea."
The Soros Foundation fosters the development of democracy and
free trade around the world, particularly in previously communist