Request for proposals: Initiative for Humanizing Medicine Small Grants Program

The Center for Innovative Medicine requests proposals for its Initiative for Humanizing Medicine Small Grants Program.

More than 100 years ago, Johns Hopkins transformed medical education, research, and treatment throughout the world by highlighting the critical importance of scientific principles in medical practice. This revolution is responsible for many of the benefits in health we now cherish. Our current challenge is that the Hopkins revolution has not yet been fully realized. It was Hopkins' first chair of medicine and the most famous physician in the 20th century, Sir William Osler, who observed, "The good physician treats the disease; the great physician treats the patient who has the disease."

There is abundant evidence within the world of otherwise phenomenal medical advances that many people do not experience the care Osler recommended. Studies consistently find that patients leave health care encounters not having discussed what is most important to them, not understanding or misunderstanding their condition and what they should do about it, not knowing what decision to make or having unknowingly made a decision that doesn't match their goals. They may also feel disrespected, treated like an object or a disease rather than as a person, and not able to trust the advice given to them as a result. Perhaps most tragically, these experiences are consistently had more by people of color, or by those who are marginalized or stigmatized, a situation that further disadvantages those who already face societal disadvantage.

In addition to the profound human suffering that results from these deficits, there are grave practical consequences that undermine human health—failure to communicate well and form therapeutic relationships with patients adversely impacts patients' confidence, trust, treatment adherence, symptoms, and chronic disease management, resulting in increased medication errors, hospital readmissions, and death.

Dehumanization does not result from malicious intent; it is the unconscious and unintentional byproduct of how medical care is structured and how clinicians are trained. To humanize medical care, social practices within medical settings must change. Fortunately, research in other settings suggests solutions, all of which should be considered in the provision of medical care. These include targeted health system structural redesign such as reimbursement policies or electronic health records interfaces, and educational reform to focus on the dignity of all persons, knowing each patient as a person, empathy, and moral engagement.

Funding Opportunity

The Initiative for Humanizing Medicine (IHM) is being launched by the Center for Innovative Medicine (CIM). IHM plans to fund up to five small grants of no more than $30,000 each.

Successful proposals could involve traditional research, implementation science, cost-effectiveness, or education scholarship in any area related to humanizing medicine—particularly focused on knowing patients as people and treating everyone with respect, dignity, and compassion. Of particular interest are studies that explore the connection between health equity and humanizing medicine, that develop methods to measure humanized medicine, and that identify gaps and reasons for gaps in humanized medicine at Johns Hopkins.

Principal investigators must be faculty at Johns Hopkins University. Funded investigators will participate in a monthly Humanizing Medicine Learning Collaborative.

The committee will primarily consider the project's potential to humanize medicine, in addition to the project's significance, innovation, feasibility, creativity, and quality of methods.

Key dates and the application process are covered on the IHM website, along with the initiative's history and mission.

Send final applications to Tambra Noethen,


Mary Catherine Beach, MD, MPH
Professor, Division of General Internal Medicine
Mary & David Gallo CIM Scholar
Co-founder, Initiative for Humanizing Medicine