Arthur Caplan

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Arthur Caplan.

Arthur L. Caplan, Ph.D., is the Drs. William F and Virginia Connolly Mitty Professor and head of the Division of Medical Ethics at New York University Langone Medical Center in New York City. Prior to coming to NYU he was the Sidney D Caplan Professor of Bioethics and the Emmanuel and Robert Hart director of the Center for Bioethics at the University of Pennsylvania. Caplan has also taught at the University of Minnesota, the University of Pittsburgh, and Columbia University. He was the Associate Director of the Hastings Center from 1984-1987. Born in Boston, Caplan did his undergraduate work at Brandeis University where he majored in philosophy. He did his graduate work at Columbia University, where he received a Ph.D. in the history and philosophy of science.

While at the University of Pennsylvania, he became the first bioethicist sued for his professional role as a result of his involvement in a gene therapy trial that resulted in the death of research subject Jesse Gelsinger. The suit was subsequently dismissed by the trial court.

Caplan secured the first apology for the Tuskegee study from Lewis Sullivan MD then secretary of HHS in 1991 He worked with William Seidelman MD and others to secure an apology from the German Medical Association for medicine's role in the Holocaust in 2012

Caplan has made many contributions to public policy including helping to found the National Marrow Donor Program, creating the policy of required request in cadaver organ donation adopted throughout the USA, Helping to create the system for distributing organs in the USA, the National Organ Transplant Act, rules governing living organ donation, and legislation and regulation in many other areas of health care.

Academic work[edit]

Caplan is the author or editor of thirty-two books and over 600 papers in peer-reviewed journals of medicine, science, philosophy, bioethics and health policy.

He has served on a number of national and international committees including as the Chair National Cancer Institute Biobanking Ethics Working Group, the Chair of the Advisory Committee to the United Nations on Human Cloning, the Chair of the Advisory Committee to the Department of Health and Human Services on Blood Safety and Availability, a member of the Presidential Advisory Committee on Gulf War Illnesses, the special advisory committee to the International Olympic Committee on genetics and gene therapy, the ethics committee of the American Society of Gene Therapy, and the special advisory panel to the National Institute of Mental Health on human experimentation on vulnerable subjects. He has consulted with many corporations, not-for-profit organizations and consumer organizations. He is a member of the board of directors of The Keystone Center, the National Center for Policy Research on Women and Families, Octagon, The Franklin Institute, Iron Disorders Foundation and the National Disease Research Interchange. He chaired the advisory committee on bioethics at Glaxo from 2005–8. He was the co-director of a United Nations/Council of Europe Study on organ trafficking. He is an advisor to DARPA on synthetic biology.

He writes a regular column on bioethics for[1] He is a regular contributor to WebMD/Medscape. He is a regular commentator on WGBH radio Boston on the noontime news show. He is a frequent guest and commentator on various other media outlets.

He is a fellow of the Hastings Center, the New York Academy of Medicine, the College of Physicians of Philadelphia and the American Association for the Advancement of Science. He is also on the Board of Trustees of the Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies and the AAUP Foundation.

See " It is hard to get there without a guide: how I came to a career in bioethics", Cambridge Quarterly of Bioethics, 23, 2, 2014:118-23 for a biography of his early career.

Awards and honors[edit]

Caplan is the recipient of many awards and honors including the McGovern Medal of the American Medical Writers Association and the Franklin Award from the City of Philadelphia. He was a person of the Year 2001 from USA Today, one of the fifty most influential people in American health care by Modern Health Care magazine, one of the ten most influential people in America in biotechnology by the National Journal and one of the ten most influential people in the ethics of biotechnology by the editors of Nature Biotechnology.[2] He holds seven honorary degrees from colleges and medical schools.[2] Discover magazine in December, 2008 named him one of the ten most influential people in science. In 2014 he was given the public service award of the National Science Board/National Science Foundation


According to Google Scholar Caplan's publications have an H-index of 47 and a i-10index of 87 since 2009


“Whole organ and tissues reconstruction in thoracic regenerative surgery”. Mayo Clinic Proceedings, 2013. (with M Lim, P Jungebluth, F Ajalloueian, L Friedrich, G Lemon, S Sjoqvist and P Macchiarini)

“Ethical Considerations in Deep Brain Stimulation for the Treatment of Addiction and Overeating Associated with Obesity”, American Journal of Bioethics Neuroscience, 2013 (with J Pisapia, CH Halpern, UJ. Muller, VD. Piergiuseppe, JA. Wolf, DM. Whiting, TA. Wadden, GH Baltuch)

“Citizen Intervention in a Religious Ban on In-School HPV Vaccine Administration in Calgary, Canada” Preventive Medicine, 2013, (with J Guichon, P Buffler, I Mitchell)

"Exempting School Children From Immunizations: States With Few Barriers Had Highest Rates Of Non-Medical Exemptions", Health Affairs, 32,7, 2013:1282-90. (with N Blank, C Constable)

“The Actress, the Court and the future of Clinical Genomics” PLOS Biology, 11, 9, 2013: 1-3.

“Functional status and survival after kidney transplantation”, Transplantation, 2013 (with P Reese, RD Bloom, J Schults, K Johansen, P Abt, HI Feldman, J Karlawish)

“Bioethics of organ transplantation”, in L Turka, K. Wood, eds., Transplantation, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press 2013

“Liberty has its Responsibilities-holding non-vaccinators liable for the harm they do", Human Vaccines & Immunotherapeutics, 9, 12, 2013

"Should Unclaimed Frozen Embryos be Considered Abandoned Property and Donated to Stem Cell Research?." Boston University Journal of Science & Technology Law, 20,1, 2013: (with Beth Roxland)

“Experimental Human Exposure to Air Pollutants Is Essential to Understand Adverse Health Effects” American Journal of Respiratory Cell and Molecular Biology (Red), 2013, (with WN Rom, H Boushey)

“Deep brain stimulation compared with methadone maintenance for the treatment of heroin dependence: a threshold and cost-effectiveness analysis. Addiction, 107, 2011: 624-634, (with J Stephen, CH Halpern, CJ Barrios, U Balmuri, JM Pisapia, KA Kampman, G Baltuch, and SC Stein)

Time to mandate influenza vaccination in healthcare workers, The Lancet, 378, 2011: 310-311.

The use of prisoners as sources of organs—an ethically dubious practice, American Journal of Bioethics, 11,10, 2011; 1-5.

Better off Living — The Ethics of the New UNOS Proposal for Allocating Kidneys for Transplantation Clinical Journal of the American Society of Nephrology, 9, 2011: 2310-12 (with P. Reese)

Expanding applications of deep brain stimulation: a potential role in obesity and addiction management Acta Neurchirugica, 153, 2011: 2293-2306 (with CH Halpern, N Torres, HI Hurtig, JA Wolf, J Stephen, M Oh, KM Kampman, TA Wadden, G Baltuch)

Vaccination refusal: ethics, individual rights and the common good, Primary Care Clinics Office Practice, 38, 2011, 717-28 (with Jason L Schwartz)

Is industry money the root of all conflicts of interest in biomedical research? Annals of Emergency Medicine, 59, 2012:87-8

“Nudge, nudge or shove, shove? —The right way for nudges to increase the supply of donated cadaver organs”, American Journal of Bioethics, 12(2), 2012: 32–39 (with E Selinger KP Whyte, J Sadowski)

“Evidence-based decision making for vaccines: the need for an ethical foundation”, Vaccine 30, 2012: 1003–1007 (with RI Field).


Caplan is the editor or author of 32 books including:


  1. ^ Caplan, Arthur (2008). "Breaking Bioethics: Arthur Caplan Articles". MSNBC. Retrieved 2008-05-17. 
  2. ^ a b "People: Arthur Caplan". University of Pennsylvania. 2008. Archived from the original on 2008-02-04. Retrieved 2008-05-17. 

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