Currently the Drs. William F and Virginia Connolly Mitty Professor and founding head of the Division of Bioethics at New York University Langone Medical Center in New York City.
He is the co-founder and Dean of Research of the NYU Sports and Society Program and the head of the ethics program in the Global Institute for Public Health at NYU.
Prior to coming to NYU he was the Sidney D. Caplan Professor of Bioethics at the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine in Philadelphia where he created the Center for Bioethics and the Department of Medical Ethics. Caplan has also taught at the University of Minnesota, where he founded the Center for Biomedical Ethics, the University of Pittsburgh, and Columbia University. He received his PhD from Columbia University.
Caplan is the author or editor of thirty-two books and over 600 papers in peer reviewed journals. His most recent book is Replacement Parts: The Ethics of Procuring and Replacing Organs in Humans (Georgetown University Press, 2015).
He has served on a number of national and international committees including as the Chair, National Cancer Institute Biobanking Ethics Working Group; the Chair of the Advisory Committee to the United Nations on Human Cloning; the Chair of the Advisory Committee to the Department of Health and Human Services on Blood Safety and Availability; a member of the Presidential Advisory Committee on Gulf War Illnesses; the special advisory committee to the International Olympic Committee on genetics and gene therapy; the special advisory panel to the National Institutes of Mental Health on human experimentation on vulnerable subjects, the Wellcome Trust advisory panel on research in humanitarian crises, and the Co-Director of the Joint Council of Europe/United Nations Study on Trafficking in Organs and Body Parts.
He is currently the ethics advisor to DOD/DARPA on synthetic biology, a member of the University of Pennsylvania's External Advisory Committee for its Orphan Disease Center and a member of the Ethics and Ebola Working Group of the World Health Organization. Dr. Caplan also serves as the Chairperson of the Compassionate Use Advisory Committee (CompAC), an independent group of internationally recognized medical experts, bioethicists and patient representatives which advises Janssen/J&J about requests for compassionate use of some of its investigational medicines.
Caplan is a regular commentator on bioethics and health care issues for WebMD/Medscape, for WGBH radio in Boston and WMNF public radio in Tampa. He appears frequently as a guest and commentator on various other national and international media outlets.
Caplan is the recipient of many awards and honors including the McGovern Medal of the American Medical Writers Association and the Franklin Award from the City of Philadelphia. He received the Patricia Price Browne Prize in Biomedical Ethics for 2011. He was a person of the Year-2001 from USA Today. He was described as one of the ten most influential people in science by Discover magazine in 2008. He has also been honored as one of the fifty most influential people in American health care by Modern Health Care magazine, one of the ten most influential people in America in biotechnology by the National Journal, one of the ten most influential people in the ethics of biotechnology by the editors of Nature Biotechnology and one of the 100 most influential people in biotechnology by Scientific American magazine. In 2014 he was selected to receive the Public Service Award from the National Science Foundation/National Science Board which honors individuals and groups that have made substantial contributions to increasing public understanding of science and engineering in the United States.
He holds seven honorary degrees from colleges and medical schools. He is a fellow of the Hastings Center, the NY Academy of Medicine, the College of Physicians of Philadelphia, the American College of Legal Medicine and the American Association for the Advancement of Science.