Biomedical Ethics Seminar Series: Special Event 

You can also view Past Biomedical Ethics Seminar Series.

The UCSD Biomedical Ethics Seminar Series meets once monthly for faculty, staff, and students to discuss selected ethics topics.

This series is co-sponsored by the UCSD Institute for Practical Ethics. 

To subscribe/unsubscribe to the Biomedical Ethics Seminar Series mailing list, please send an email to

For more information, contact Mary Devereaux at

October 17, 2018


Illness, Challenges to the Self, and the Power of Empathic Curiosity

For clinicians to address the challenges to the self that their patients face in the wake of health losses, they need to recognize the emotional and social disruptions that illness can trigger. Physicians and other healthcare providers also need to recognize the role of their own emotional reactivity in prognosticating future quality of life when patients are in crises. More than contextual knowledge, this requires reflective awareness of how their own humanness and that of the patient co-construct implicit assumptions about the patient's future possibilities. The skill necessary for this is empathic curiosity, which is distinct from compassion and other positive attitudes in its aim of discovery--of knowing more about what in particular this individual patient is going through. Empathic curiosity can also be self-directed, and this is a crucial therapeutic tool not only for physicians but for patients to use in their own long-term healing.

Presenter: Jodi Halpern. M.D., Ph.D. is Professor of Bioethics and Medical Humanities at UC Berkeley and 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. Her first book, From Detached Concern to Empathy: Humanizing Medical Practice was called a “seminal work” by JAMA. Her upcoming book Remaking the Self in the Wake of Illness critically analyzes narratives of resiliency. Halpern’s current scholarship elucidates how innovative technologies, including AI, VR and genetic engineering, change relationships in unexpected ways. Halpern also leads a research program examining the emotional beliefs that motivate people to participate in novel gene modification clinical trials and is extending this work to neuro-technology. Halpern is invited to present her work internationally, including at the 2018 meeting of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. See
Date/Time Wednesday, October 17th  from 4:30-6:30pm
Location UCSD, Medical Education and Telemedicine Building, room 145
Flyer  Biomedical Ethics Seminar Series Event Flyer