Faculty Scholars Program

Jodi Lauren Halpern, MD, PhD

Class of 2008
  • Chancellors Chair and Professor of Bioethics
  • 2022 Guggenheim Fellow, Medicine & Health
University of California, Berkeley
Scholar Project

Bringing together psychiatry, philosophy and decision science, Dr. Halpern has systematically dissected the emotional motivation, norms and beliefs that sustain professional ethics.  In her book From Detached Concern to Empathy, Dr. Halpern demonstrated why empathic curiosity was essential to effective medical care.  In subsequent work she helped shift neuroscience research towards an interactive, contextualized model rather than conceptualizing empathy as an individual capacity, and she has applied this in her studies of social reconciliation in Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia and of soldiers reintegrating into civilian society. In her current project “Engineering Empathy” she examines how misused AI applications erode empathy and autonomy as they take over our personal lives, as in using robot companions for elders with dementia.

Dr. Halpern conducts research on the translation of gene editing from bench to bedside.  With her research group she has interviewed forty gene editing scientists to identify critical gaps in their understanding of ethical obligations to human subjects, in order to improve the professional education of basic scientists going forward. She also works on AI and ethics standards, education and policy and has advised governments, NGOs and corporations in this area.

Dr. Halpern is also completing the book Remaking the Self in the Wake of Illness. She examines how previously stoic individuals were able to learn to empathize with “negative” emotions and how this self-empathy helped them remake their lives in the wake of illness. 

Dr. Halpern holds a University Endowed Chair at UC Berkeley and speaks internationally including at Davos on empathy and on gene editing, AI and ethics. She is a 2022 Guggenheim Fellow for Medicine & Health.

For more information, visit: https://publichealth.berkeley.edu/people/jodi-halpern/

Affective Forecasting and Respecting Subjective Values in Healthcare Decision-Making

Grant Cycle: 2004 - 2005

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