Jonathan D. Moreno

Jonathan D. Moreno is the David and Lyn Silfen University Professor, Professor of Medical Ethics and Health Policy, Professor of History and Sociology of Science, and Professor of Philosophy. With appointments in the Perelman School of Medicine and the School of Arts & Sciences, Moreno works at the intersection of bioethics, culture, science, and national security.

History & Bioethics

jonathan moreno

In an era of profound political discord over medical issues, Jonathan Moreno stands as a voice of reason. Moreno has helped forge compromises in Washington, D.C., and informed political debate throughout the world by analyzing cultural, scientific, and national security issues through the eyes of a historian and bioethicist. Honored as the “most interesting bioethicist of our time” by the American Journal of Bioethics, Moreno specializes in wresting science policy out of the realm of ideological abstraction and bringing it back to pragmatic concerns that all can understand and appreciate.

Author of six seminal books on the history, sociology, and politics of biology and medicine, Moreno has served as a senior staff member of three presidential commissions, including President Obama’s Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues, and has given invited testimony for both houses of congress. He is a Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress and a regular contributor to Huffington PostPsychology Today, and other major media. He is also one of the first Penn professors to venture into the world of Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) through Coursera. His inaugural class, “Neuroethics,” drew more than 36,000 registrants.

Moreno is an elected member of the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences and is the U.S. member of the UNESCO International Bioethics Committee. He is a member of the Governing Board of the International Neuroethics Society, and is a Faculty Affiliate of the Kennedy Institute of Ethics at Georgetown University, a Fellow of the Hastings Center, and a past president of the American Society for Bioethics and Humanities.

In his latest book, Moreno turns his keen eye on a very personal subject, his father, the renowned psychiatrist, J.L. Moreno, who died in 1974 and pioneered improvisational theater, psychotherapy and the study of group dynamics. Impromptu Man: J.L. Moreno and the Origins of Psychodrama, Encounter Culture, and the Social Network is available here.

  • Bioethics 
  • Biopolitics 
  • History of bioethics
  • History of science
  • Science policy
  • Human research ethics
  • National security research ethics
  • Bioterrorism
  • Neuroethics 
  • Consensus theory

Books (Selected)

Impromptu Man: J.L. Moreno and the Origins of Psychodrama, Encounter Culture, and the Social Network2014

Mind Wars: Brain Research and the Military in the 21st Century, 2012 (revised and updated from Mind Wars, 2006) [also available as an audiobook]

The Body Politic: The Battle Over Science in America, 2011 [also available as an audiobook]

Is There an Ethicist in the House? On the Cutting Edge of Bioethics, 2005

In the Wake of Terror: Medicine and Morality in a Time of Crisis, 2003

Undue Risk: Secret State Experiments on Humans, 1999

Deciding Together: Bioethics and Moral Consensus, 1995


Academic Writings (Selected)

Moreno J.D., “Mind Wars: Brain Science and the Miliitary,” Monash Bioethics Review 31(2), September 2013, pp. 83-99.

Tennison M. and Moreno J.D., “Neuroscience, Ethics and National Security: The State of the Art,” PLoS Biology, March 2012.

Moreno J.D. , “Society and the Reception of Imaging Technology: The American Experience,” Cortex (2011), doi:10.1016/j.cortex.2011.04.024.

Tereskerz P., Guterbock T.M., Kermer D., and MorenoJ.D., “An Opinion and Practice Survey on the Structure and Management of Data and Safety
Monitoring Boards,” Accountability in Research 18(1):1-30, 2011.

For a complete list of books + publications, visit Moreno's personal page.

Blogs (Featured Writing)

Huffington Post

"Imaging Trump's Brain," April 1, 2016
"The Power of an Empty Podium," January 27, 2016
"Can Science Predict Political Turmoil?" January 4, 2016
"How the 'Psychological Drama' Taught Peter Lorre How to Act," November 10, 2014
"The Piketty Panic on the Left," April 25, 2014
Private Science and National Security,” March 19, 2014
On the 4th, Let’s Celebrate Privacy,” July 3, 2013
Has the Politics of Cloning Turned the Corner?” May 29, 2013
"Taking the Silencer Off Gun Research," January 10, 2013

For a full list, visit Moreno’s page on the Huffington Post or subscribe to the RSS Feed.

Psychology Today

"OKCupid, Say It Ain't So!" July 29, 2014
High Time to Destigmatize Psychedelics,” August 11, 2012
Should Teachers Learn Neuroscience?” June 6, 2012
Harvard’s Experiment on the Unabomber, Class of ’62,” May 25, 2012
Stay Awake, Comrades. The Chinese Army’s Anti-Sleep Pill,” April 15, 2012

Read more of Moreno’s work on Psychology Today

Other Writings (Selected)

"Ben Carson: the Candidate from Bioethics," The Hill, Octiber 28, 2015
"Michael Bay Drops the B-Word in the New Transformers," Slate, July 14, 2014
"The Moral Vision of the 'Reformicons,'"Democracy Journal, July 7, 2014
Researchers Put Human Brain Cells in Mice.  Why Aren’t Conservatives Freaking Out?” Slate, March 15, 2013
Robot Soldiers Will Be a Reality – and a Threat,” Wall Street Journal, May 12, 2012
Self-Censorship is Not Enough,” Nature, December 20/27, 2012
"Military Mind Wars," The Scientist, November 1, 2012
What the Chair Could Have Told Clint,” The New York Times, August 31, 2012.
"Biotech is Thrusting Us Into New Political Territory," New Scientist, August 28, 2012
Neuroethics 101,” Science Progress, July 30, 2012
Beyond LASIK: Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation to Improve How You Process What You See,” Slate, June 8, 2012
"Sex and Singles: Forty Years Later, We're Still Fighting Eisenstadt v. Baird," The Nation, March 20, 2012.
"In the Thick of Things: Jonathan Moreno," Penn Medicine Magazine, Summer 2012

Features & Interviews (Selected)

"Pushing the Boundaries of Science to Advance Human Health," Wharton Business Radio, December 23, 2015 (with John Gearhart)
"Is Talk of 'Magic Bullet' Ebola Treatments Distracting from More Important Measures?PBS Newshour, August 12, 2014
"Impromptu Man: J.L.Moreno and the Origins of Psychodrama, Encounter Culture, and the Social Network," Publishers Weekly, July 28, 2014
 “A Conversation with Jonathan D. Moreno, Bioethicist and Professor,” The Atlantic, October 7, 2011
Jacked-In Soldiers and Military Neuroethics: An Interview with Bioethicist Jonathan Moreno," Motherboard, May 23, 2012
"Jonathan Moreno – Our New Biopolitics," Point of Inquiry with Josh Zepps + Lindsay Beyerstein, October, 24, 2011 [PODCAST]
The Case for Embryonic Stem Cell Research: An Interview with Jonathan Moreno," Pew Research, July 17, 2008

Videos (Selected)

"Dr. Jonathan Moreno Mind Wars Discussion," Trust Broadcast Network with Steve Roberts, May 6, 2013
"Effects of Mind Wars," Conversations from Penn State
"Brain Research and National Intelligence," Engaging Minds, University of Pennsylvania Alumni Speaker Series,  2009

Podcasts (Selected)

"Jonathan Moreno," KCAA Culture Shocks, September 7, 2013
"Science Weekly: The Human Era, and War Without Tears," The Guardian, May 15, 2011
Culture Shocks, KCAA, Jonathan Moreno


Follow @pennprof.  

To explore more of Moreno's work, visit his personal page.  

David M. Silfen & Lyn Silfen


“Our entire family is extraordinarily pleased to make this gift, which will support one of the important cornerstones of the Penn Compact. We are confident that this will build upon the University’s recent success and help insure its vibrant future.”  

 - David Silfen

Lyn Silfen and the late David Silfen, C'66, endowed two David and Lyn Silfen University Professorships in 2006. David Silfen was Vice Chair of the University of Pennsylvania Board of Trustees and Chair of the Board of Overseers of the School of Arts & Sciences. 

  • Jonathan Moreno was named the David and Lyn Silfen University Professor in October 2006. 
  • Sarah Tishkoff was named the David and Lyn Silfen University Associate Professor in January 2008.
  • Ph.D., Washington University (Philosophy)
  • B.A., Hofstra University (Philosophy and Psychology)


University Service
Professional Positions & Affiliations
  • Institute of Medicine, elected member
  • UNESCO, International Bioethics Committee, member
  • Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues, senior advisor
  • Center for American Progress, senior fellow
  • International Neuroethics Society, governing board member
Additional Penn Profiles


Perelman School of Medicine
3401 Market Street, Suite 320
Philadelphia, PA 19104
215.573.0245 (o)