HALPERN’S work helped build a wave of research on clinical empathy.

Jodi Halpern, MD, PhD is Professor of Bioethics and Medical Humanities, UC Berkeley, in the Joint Medical Program and the School of Public Health. 

She is co-founder of the Berkeley Group for the Ethics and Regulation of Innovative Technologies.

Her work brings together psychiatry, philosophy, affective forecasting and decision neuroscience to study how people imagine and change their own – and each other’s – future possibilities.

Her foundational work on on clinical empathy has helped make medical care more patient-centered.


Recent Speaking Engagements:

  • WEF, “Empathic Curiosity in the Workplace,” “Empathy and Emerging Technologies,” (World Economic Forum, Davos, Switzerland, 2018)
  • Herrenhausen Conference, “Innovative Neuroscience and Ethics,”(Hannover, Germany 2018)
  • WEF, “Human-Centered High-Tech: Virtual and Augmented Reality,” (World Economic Forum, Annual Meeting of the New Champions, Dalian, China, June 2017)
  • WEF, “The Benefits of a Curious Mind: Enhancing Empathy,” (World Economic Forum, Annual Meeting of the New Champions, Dalian, China, June 2017)
  • WEF, “Working with Robots,” (World Economic Forum, Annual Meeting of the New Champions, Dalian, China, June 2017)
  • Future of Medicine Conference, “New Research and Challenges to Empathy in Healthcare,” (Centura, Denver, October 2017)
  • American Medical Women’s Association, “Crises, Conflicts and the Power of Empathic Curiosity,” (April, 2017)
  • CRISPR and gene modification: Ethical Challenges,” (UC Davis, 2016)


Her first book, From Detached Concern to Empathy: Humanizing Medical Practice was called a “seminal work” by the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Her upcoming book Remaking the Self in the Wake of Illness focuses on how people in the prime of life grow psychologically in the wake of illness, finding unexpected paths.

Halpern’s current book project is Engineering Empathy, which investigates the role of technologies that shift human emotions and relationships. Specific topics include virtual reality to create empathy and uses of AI in psychotherapy, medical decision-making and caregiving.

Her scholarly articles focus on topics including emotions and decision-making, social dominance and bullying, post-war social reconciliation and the ethics of innovative technologies.  Her work appears in publications such as the Journal of General Internal Medicine, Pediatrics, Emotion Review, Journal of Bioethics Neuroscience, Gerontology and Global Public Health as well as in popular media.

Consulting and Advisory Boards:

She has consulted on bioethics and societal issues for the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, Centura Health, Seek Company, Klick Labs and other health system and non-profit organizations.  She is the Director of the Advisory Board for the UC Institute of Personality and Social Research, and serves on numerous advisory boards including the DQ Institute for International Digital Education,  “The Empathy Project” Film Series, the AMA Education Module on Empathy and NEH and International Bioethics Education Projects.  At UC Berkeley she is the founder and co-leader of the Group for Ethics and Regulation of Innovative Technologies.

Current research:

Her scholarship focuses on how innovative technologies change how we adapt to health losses, how we view our futures and how we relate to others. One project focuses on the the influence of virtual and augmented reality (VR/AR) on empathy.  A second on therapeutic misestimation regarding new neuroscience and gene editing technologies. (in collaboration with the UC Berkeley Innovative Genomics Institute-Doudna Lab).

Selected awards:

  • 2017: UC Women’s Leadership Initiative
  • 2016: Honorary Fellow, Hastings Center of Ethics
  • 2011: Outstanding Mentor of the Year, UCB-UCSF Joint Medical Program
  • 2010: Golden Apple Award—Outstanding Teacher of the Year,
    School of Public Health, UC Berkeley
  • 2007 : Brinn Endowed Lecturer in Oncology, Johns Hopkins School of Medicine
  • 2006-2009: Greenwall Faculty Fellowship: Affective Forecasting, Emotions and Predicting Subjective Well-being in Health Decisions
  • 1994: Yale University Porter Prize for the outstanding dissertation across all of the disciplines.

Recent Media:

‘Philosophy Talk” NPR, May 2017. Psychology and Ethics of Medical Consent. LINK

  • Learn why medical practitioners are more effective when they empathize with patients.

    From Detached Concern to Empathy- Humanizing Medical Practice
  • Buy from Amazon

    "This book is a must read for all of us with an interest in medical practice." Abraham Verghese, 2011

  • Videos

    Empathy for Effective Healthcare
  • Jodi Halpern speaking at the Hillside Club, Berkeley, CA