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Joseph J.. Fins, MD, MACP, FRCP

Cornell University
Chief, Division of Medical Ethics
Division of Medical Ethics



Academic Member

What I would like to offer as a collaborator…

The author of over 400 publications, his most recent book is Rights Come to Mind: Brain Injury, Ethics and The Struggle for Consciousness (Cambridge University Press, 2015). Dr. Fins is also the author of A Palliative Ethic of Care: Clinical Wisdom at Life’s End (Jones and Bartlett, 2006). Dr. Fins is a co-author of the 2007 Nature paper describing the first use of deep brain stimulation (DBS) in the minimally conscious state. He is currently a co-investigator on an NIH BRAIN Initiative grant studying DBS in severe to moderate traumatic brain injury and principal investigator on an RO1 entitled, “Cognitive Restoration: Neuroethics and Disability Rights.”
A developer of clinical pragmatism as a method of moral problem solving for medicine, Professor Fins’ current scholarly interests include: ethical and policy issues in brain injury and disorders of consciousness; civil and disability rights for individuals with severe brain injury; palliative care; research ethics in neurology and psychiatry; medical education; methods of ethics case consultation; the history of medicine; and bioethics in the Spanish-speaking world.

What I am looking for from a collaborator…

I am especially interested in health equity for patients with severe brain injury and have advanced a civil rights/disability rights agenda on their behalf building upon advances in the diagnosis, treatment, and rehabilitation of this population. To that end, in additional to addressing the ethical and normative obligations we owe to this population through my work at Weill Cornell Medicine and Rockefeller University, I have also worked to develop the legal platform for civil rights litigation and statutory reform in my role as the Solomon Center Distinguished Scholar in Medicine, Bioethics and the Law at Yale Law School. Regarding additional experience, I have been a recipient of a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Investigator Award in Health Policy Research. I also received a Soros Open Society Institute Project on Death in America Faculty Scholars Award, a Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation Visiting Fellowship and support from the Greenwall, Dana, Buster, and Katz Foundations as well as the National Institutes of Health, amongst others. I was appointed by President Clinton to The White House Commission on Complementary and Alternative Medicine Policy and currently serve on The New York State Task Force on Life and the Law by gubernatorial appointment. In 2015, I was honored to receive the Patricia Price Browne Prize in Biomedical Ethics from the University of Oklahoma School of Medicine. In 2019 I was the recipient of the Nicholas E. Davies Memorial Scholar Award for Scholarly Activities in the Humanities and the History of Medicine of the American College of Physicians. I am an elected Member of the National Academy of Medicine (formerly the Institute of Medicine) of the National Academy of Sciences, a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and an Academico de Honor (Honored Academic) of the Real Academia Nacional de Medicina de España (the Royal National Academy of Medicine of Spain).