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Joseph J. Fins

The E. William Davis, Jr., M.D. Professor of Medical Ethics & Professor of Medicine Chief, Division of Medical Ethics Weill Cornell Medical College; Director of Medical Ethics & Attending Physician New York Presbyterian Weill Cornell Medical Center; Visiting Professor of Law & Solomon Center Distinguished Scholar in Medicine, Bioethics and the Law Yale Law School; Co-Director CASBI, Consortium for the Advanced Study of Brain Injury Weill Cornell and Rockefeller University

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Joseph J. Fins, MD, MACP, FRCP


Joseph J. Fins, M.D., M.A.C.P. is The E. William Davis, Jr. M.D. Professor of Medical Ethics and Chief of the Division of Medical Ethics at Weill Cornell Medical College where he is a Tenured Professor of Medicine, Professor of Medical Ethics in Neurology, Professor of Health Care Policy and Research, and Professor of Medicine in Psychiatry. He the founding Chair of the Ethics Committee of New York-Presbyterian Weill Cornell Medical Center where he is an Attending Physician and Director of Medical Ethics. A member of the Adjunct Faculty of Rockefeller University and Senior Attending Physician at The Rockefeller University Hospital, he Co-Directs, the Consortium for the Advanced Study of Brain Injury (CASBI) at Weill Cornell and Rockefeller. In 2014, he served as the Dwight H. Terry Visiting Scholar in Bioethics and Visiting Professor in the History of Medicine at Yale. In 2015, he was appointed the Solomon Center Distinguished Scholar in Medicine, Bioethics and the Law at Yale Law School.

Dr. Fins is an elected Member of 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).

A recipient of a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Investigator Award in Health Policy Research, Dr. Fins has 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 Dana, Buster and Katz Foundations, amongst others. He was appointed by President Clinton to The White House Commission on Complementary and Alternative Medicine Policy and currently serves on The New York State Task Force on Life and the Law by gubernatorial appointment. In 2015, Dr. Fins received the Patricia Price Browne Prize in Biomedical Ethics from the University of Oklahoma School of Medicine.

Dr. Fins was graduated from Wesleyan University (B.A. with Honors, The College of Letters, 1982) and Cornell University Medical College (M.D., 1986). He completed his residency in Internal Medicine and Fellowship in General Internal Medicine at The New York Hospital-Cornell Medical Center and has served as Associate for Medicine at The Hastings Center. He is a Diplomat of the American Board of Internal Medicine, and was recertified in 2012.

The author of over 300 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) and a co-author of the 2007 Nature paper describing the first use of deep brain stimulation in the minimally conscious state. His current scholarly interests include ethical and policy issues in brain injury and disorders of consciousness, 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.

Dr. Fins is an associate editor of the 4th Edition of the Encyclopedia of Bioethics and the Journal of Clinical Ethics. He sits on the editorial boards of: The Pharos Alpha Omega Alpha Honor Medical Society The Oncologist, Cambridge Quarterly of Healthcare Ethics, BioMed Central Medical Ethics, Neuroethics, American Journal of Bioethics and Neuromodulation as well as the MIT Basic Bioethics Series.

A Past President of the American Society for Bioethics and Humanities, he is a member of Board of Trustees of The Hastings Center and the International Neuroethics Society. He is a Master and past Governor of the American College of Physicians, been honored with the College’s Laureate Award and served as a trustee of the American College of Physicians Foundation. He is a Trustee Emeritus of Wesleyan University, which has honored him with its Distinguished Alumnus Award.

Dr. Fins is also a Fellow of The New York Academy of Medicine and The Hastings Center. He was appointed to the Council of the Europaische Akademie (Germany) and is an elected member of the Dana Alliance for Brain Initiatives, the American Clinical and Climatological Association and Alpha Omega Alpha.

Education & Training

  • MD
    University (B.A. with Honors, The College of Letters, 1982) and Cornell University Medical College (1986)
  • BA
    Wesleyan University, with Honors, The College of Letters (1982)

Departments & Organizations