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Arthur Caplan

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.[1]

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 as without merit

Caplan secured the first apology for the Tuskegee Study from Lewis Sullivan M.D., then secretary of HHS, in 1991.[2] He worked with William Seidelman, M.D., and others, to secure, in 2012, an apology from the German Medical Association for the role of German physicians in the Holocaust.[3]

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, and advising on the content of the National Organ Transplant Act, rules governing living organ donation, and legislation and regulation in many other areas of health care.


  • Academic work 1
  • Awards and honors 2
  • Falun Gong 3
  • Bibliography 4
  • Personal life 5
  • References 6
  • External links 7

Academic work

Caplan is the author, or editor, of thirty-two books, and of 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 adviser to DARPA on synthetic biology.

He writes a regular column on bioethics for[4] 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, discussing public health issues like obesity.[5]

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.

Awards and honors

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.[6] He holds seven honorary degrees from colleges and medical schools.[6] 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[7]

Falun Gong

In 2012 Caplan stated,

"Look, I think you can make the connections that...they are using prisoners, and they need prisoners who are relatively healthy, they need prisoners who are relatively younger. It doesn't take a great stretch of the imagination that some Falun Gong [practitioners] are going to be among those who are going to be killed for parts. It just follows, because remember you can't take very old people as sources of organs and you can't take people who are very sick. They, Falun Gong, are in part younger, and by lifestyle, healthier. I would be astounded if they weren't using some of those prisoners as sources of organs."[8]


According to Google Scholar Caplan's publications have an H-index of 47 and an I10-index of 87 since 2009


Caplan is the editor or author of 32 books including:[9]

   Replacement Parts Replacement Parts: The Ethics of Procuring and Replacing Organs in Humans (Georgetown, 2015)
  • Applied Ethics in Mental Health Care: An Interdisciplinary Reader (MIT Press, 2013)
  • Contemporary Debates in Bioethics (Wiley, 2013)
  • "The Penn Center Guide to Bioethics" (Springer, 2009)
  • Smart Mice, Not-So-Smart People: An Interesting and Amusing Guide to Bioethics, (Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 2006) ISBN 0742541711
  • The Case of Terri Schiavo: Ethics at the end of life (2006)[10]
  • Health, Disease, and Illness: Concepts in Medicine (2004) ISBN 1-58901-014-0
  • Who Owns Life? (2002) ISBN 1-57392-986-7
  • Finding Common Ground: Ethics and Assisted Suicide (2001)
  • Ethics And Organ Transplants, (1999)
  • Am I My Brother's Keeper? (1998)
  • Due Consideration: Controversy in an Age of Medical Miracles, (1997)
  • Prescribing Our Future: Ethical Challenges in Genetic Counseling, Aldine Press, (1993)
  • If I Were A Rich Man Could I Buy A Pancreas And Other Essays On Medical Ethics, (1992)
  • When Medicine Went Mad: Bioethics And The Holocaust (1992).


  • “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).
  • "Lessons from the failure of human papillomavirus vaccine state requirements", Clinical Pharmacology and Therapeutics, 82, December, 2007: 760-3, (with JL Schwartz, RR Faden and J Sugarman).
  • "Leveraging Genetic Resources or Moral Blackmail?— Indonesia and Avian Flu Virus Sample Sharing", American Journal of Bioethics, 7,11, 2007: 1-2 (with David R Curry).
  • "The ethics of evil: The challenge and the lessons of Nazi medical experiments", in W. LaFleur, ed., Dark Medicine: Rationalizing Unethical Medical Research, Indiana University Press, 2007: 50-64.
  • "Duty and ‘euthanasia’: the nurses of Meseritz-Obrawalde", Nursing Ethics, 14,6, 2007: 781-94, (with Susan Benedict and TL Page).
  • "Caring for organs or for patients? Ethical concerns about the uniform anatomical gift act", Annals of Internal Medicine, 147, 2007: 876-79 (with M. DeVita).
  • "Beyond Schiavo", Journal of Clinical Ethics, 18, 4, 2007: 1-6 (with Edward Bergman).
  • "A shot in the rear: Why are we really against steroids?" Science Progress. 1, 2008: 1-3.
  • "Simon Caplan’s Day" in M. Wallace, ed., 50 Years From Today, Thomas Nelson, 2008: 24-26.
  • "Creating a medical, legal and ethical framework for complex living kidney donors", Clinical Journal of the American Society of Nephrology, 1: 2006: 1148-53
  • "Gene therapy and erectile dysfunction", Human Gene Therapy, 18, 2006, 1177.
  • "Taking ethics seriously in cosmetic dermatology", Archives of Dermatology, 142, 12, 2006: 1641-2
  • "Lessons across the pond: Assisted reproductive technology in the UK and the USA", American Journal of Law Medicine & Ethics, 31, 2005: 419-446.
  • "The appropriate use of artificial nutrition and hydration: fundamental principles and recommendations for the future", New England Journal of Medicine, 2005: 2607-2612 (with D. Cassarett and J. Kapo).
  • "Misusing the Nazi Analogy", Science, 309, 2005:535
  • "Attack of the Anti-Cloners", Arthur Caplan, Free Inquiry, Winter 2002/2003, p. 30.
  • "Mapping Morality: The Rights and Wrongs of Genomics", in M. Yudell and R. DeSalle, eds., The Genomics Revolution, Joseph Henry Press, 2002: 189-94.
  • "NAS Cloning Hearing", Science, 294 (2001): 1651
  • "Cloning Human Embryos", Western Journal of Medicine, 176 (2002): 78-79.
  • "Protecting Subjects' Interests in Genetics Research", American Journal of Human Genetics, 70 (2002):965-71 (with J.E Merz, D. Magnus, M.K. Cho).
  • "What Is Morally Wrong with Eugenics?" in PR. Sloan, ed., Controlling Our Destinies, Notre Dame University Press, 2000: 209-23.
  • "Breaking Bioethics" on the health page of, featuring columns by Caplan

Personal life

Caplan comes from a Jewish family, which he describes as "Workmen's Circle, Zionist, and secular."[11] He is married and has one son who is an attorney


  1. ^ "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
  2. ^
  3. ^
  4. ^ Caplan, Arthur (2008). "Breaking Bioethics: Arthur Caplan Articles".  
  5. ^
  6. ^ a b "People: Arthur Caplan".  
  7. ^
  8. ^ "Chinese Regime Indirectly Admits Organ Harvesting: Bioethics Professor", Youtube video, NTDTV, 15 Mar 2012
  9. ^
  10. ^ [2]
  11. ^

External links

  • official page for Arthur L. Caplan
  • Bioethicists' Objection to Congressional Interference in Schiavo Case, March 27, 2005
  • Art Caplan IEET Bio Page

medical ethicists

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