Arthur Leonard Caplan, PhD, is the Drs. William F and Virginia Connolly Mitty Professor and the founding director of the Division of Medical Ethics in NYU Langone Medical Center’s Department of Population Health.
Prior to coming to NYU Langone, Caplan was the Sidney D. Caplan Professor of Bioethics at the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine in Philadelphia, where he created the Center for Bioethics and the Department of Medical Ethics. Dr. Caplan also taught at the University of Minnesota, where he founded the Center for Biomedical Ethics, the University of Pittsburgh, and Columbia University. He was the Associate Director of the Hastings Center from 1984-1987.
Dr. Caplan has served on a number of national and international committees including: 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; the special advisory panel to the National Institutes of Mental Health on human experimentation on vulnerable subjects and the Wellcome Trust on research in humanitarian crises. He is a member of the board of directors of The Franklin Institute, the Board of Visitors of the Columbia University School of Nursing and the Board of Directors of the American Association of University Professors Foundation. Dr. Caplan served as the Co-Director of the Joint Council of Europe/United Nations Study on Trafficking in Organs and Body Parts. He is currently the ethics advisor on synthetic biology to the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, an agency of the United States Department of Defense. Dr. Caplan also serves as the non-voting Chairperson of the Compassionate Use Advisory Committee (CompAC), an external, expert panel of internationally recognized medical experts, bioethicists and patient representatives formed by NYU School of Medicine, which advises Janssen about requests for compassionate use of its investigational medicines.
Dr. 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 received the Patricia Price Browne Prize in Biomedical Ethics for 2011. He was a “Person of the Year- 2001” from USA Today and was described as one of the “Ten Most Influential People in Science” by Discover magazine in 2008. He has also been honored as 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.
Dr. Caplan is the author or editor of thirty-two books and over 600 papers in peer reviewed journals. His most recent books are Contemporary Debates in Bioethics (Wiley 2013) and Ethics in Mental Healthcare: A Reader (MIT Press, 2013). He writes a regular column on bioethics for NBC.com and is a monthly commentator on bioethics and health care issues for WebMD/Medscape. He appears frequently as a guest and commentator on various other national and international media outlets.
Dr. Caplan holds seven honorary degrees from colleges and medical schools. He is a fellow of the Hastings Center, the NY Academy of Medicine, the College of Physicians of Philadelphia, the American College of Legal Medicine and the American Association for the Advancement of Science.
Born in Boston, Caplan did his undergraduate work at Brandeis University. He completed his graduate work at Columbia University where he received a PhD in the history and philosophy of science in 1979.