Called “the quietly most interesting bioethicist of our time” by the American Journal of Bioethics, Jonathan is the David and Lyn Silfen University Professor at the University of Pennsylvania where he is a Penn Integrates Knowledge (PIK) professor. At Penn he is also Professor of Medical Ethics and Health Policy, of History and Sociology of Science, and of Philosophy.
In 2008-09 he served as a member of President Barack Obama’s transition team. His work has been cited by Al Gore and was used in the development of the screenplay for “The Bourne Legacy.” He is co-host of the podcast Making the Call along with his colleague, Zeke Emanuel. His online neuroethics course drew more than 36,000 registrants in fall 2013.
Jonathan’s writings have been translated into Chinese, German, Japanese, Portuguese and Romanian. His new book, Everybody Wants to Go to Heaven but Nobody Wants to Die: Bioethics and the Transformation of Healthcare in America, co-authored with Penn president Amy Gutmann. Another recent book, The Brain in Context: A Pragmatic Guide to Neuroscience, was written with neuroscientist Jay Schulkin.
Among his previous books are Impromptu Man: J.L. Moreno and the Origins of Psychodrama, Encounter Culture, and the Social Network (2014), which Amazon called a “#1 hot new release.” His other books include The Body Politic, named a Best Book of 2011 by Kirkus Reviews; Mind Wars (2012); and Undue Risk (2000). He has published hundreds of papers, articles, reviews and op-eds.
Jonathan frequently contributes to such publications as The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Science, Nature, Slate, Foreign Affairs, Axios.com, The Huffington Post, and Psychology Today. He often appears on broadcast and online media and was a columnist for ABCNews.com.
He is an elected member of the National Academy of Medicine where he chairs the Interest Group on Human Rights, Professionalism and the Values of Medicine. He served two term as the U.S. member of the UNESCO International Bioethics Committee. From 2005 to 2012 Jonathan was a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress. He has advised many governmental and non-governmental organizations, including three presidential commissions, the Department of Defense, the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of Health and Human Services, the Centers for Disease Control, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
Jonathan received his Ph.D. in philosophy from Washington University in St. Louis, was an Andrew W. Mellon post-doctoral fellow, holds an honorary doctorate from Hofstra University, and is a recipient of the College of William and Mary Law School Benjamin Rush Medal, the Dr. Jean Mayer Award for Global Citizenship from Tufts University, and the Penn Alumni Faculty Award of Merit. He holds the honorary Visiting Professorship in History at the University of Kent in Canterbury, England.
In 2018 the American Society for Bioethics and Humanities presented him with its Lifetime Achievement Award.