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Paul Root Wolpe

Asa Griggs Candler Professor of Bioethics

Paul Root Wolpe examines the ethical implications of new science — genetic modification, neuroscience and other breakthroughs that stretch our current philosophy to the breaking point. He's the chief bioethicist at NASA, among other appointments.

Paul Root Wolpe directs the Center for Ethics at Emory University, where he works on the biggest issues most of us face in our life-long ethical journey: death and dying, new reproductive technologies, and new medical and scientific breakthroughs that are not covered in our traditional ethics (what would the Bible say about growing a human ear on a mouse?). He's also the chief bioethicist at NASA, where he advises on the medical experiments that happen during space travel.

Wolpe moved to Emory University in the summer of 2008 from the University of Pennsylvania, where he was on the faculty for over 20 years in the Departments of Psychiatry, Sociology and Medical Ethics. He was a senior fellow of Penn’s Center for Bioethics, and directed the Scattergood Program for the Applied Ethics of Behavioral Health and the Program in Psychiatry and Ethics at the School of Medicine.

Wolpe is the author of over 125 articles, editorials and book chapters in sociology, medicine and bioethics, and has contributed to a variety of encyclopedias on bioethical issues. A futurist interested in social dynamics, Wolpe’s work focuses on the social, religious, ethical and ideological impact of technology on the human condition. Considered one of the founders of the field of neuroethics, which examines the ethical implications of neuroscience, he also writes about other emerging technologies, such as genetic engineering, nanotechnology, prosthetics and new reproductive technologies. His teaching and publications range across multiple fields of bioethics and sociology, including death and dying, genetics and eugenics, sexuality and gender, mental health and illness, alternative medicine and bioethics in extreme environments such as space. He is the co-author of the textbook Sexuality and Gender in Society, and editor and a key author of the end-of-life guide Behoref Hayamim: In the Winter of Life.

Wolpe sits on a number of national and international non-profit organizational boards and working groups, and is a consultant to academic institutions and the biomedical industry. In July, 2010, he testified to the President’s Commission on the Study of Bioethical Issues in Washington, DC on ethical issues in synthetic biology. A dynamic and popular speaker internationally, Wolpe has been chosen by The Teaching Company as a "Superstar Teacher of America" and his courses are distributed internationally on audio and videotape. He has won the World Technology Network Award in Ethics, has been featured in a TED talk, and was profiled in the November, 2011 Atlantic magazine as a "Brave Thinker of 2011." Wolpe is a frequent contributor and commentator in both the broadcast and print media, recently featured on 60 Minutes and with a personal profile in the Science Times of The New York Times.

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