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Prof. Dr. James Giordano

C.L. Clark Fellow in Neurosciences and Ethics, Generation Research Program, Human Science Center, Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität, München




Prof. Dr. James Giordano is Clark Fellow in Neurosciences and Ethics at the Generation Research Program hosted by Human Sciences Center of Ludwig Maximilians Universität, and is Professor of Integrative Physiology in the Department of Biochemistry, Chief of the Neuroethics Studies Program in the Center for Clinical Bioethics, and on the faculty of the Inter-disciplinary Graduate Studies Program at Georgetown University, Washington, DC.  Prof. Dr. Giordano was formerly JW Fulbright Visiting Professor of Neurotechnology and Neuroethics at Ludwig-Maximilians Universität, Munich, Germany and was Friedrich-Wilhelms Visiting Professor of Neuroethics at Rheinische Universität, Bonn, Germany.

He chairs the National Neuroscience- Ethics, Legal and Social Issues (NELSI) initiative that convenes a  yearly national symposium in the USA to address key issues at the intersection of neuroscience and public life, and the Capital Consortium for Neuroscience, Ethics, Legal and Social Issues (CCNELSI) which  presents seminars, lectures and panels that bring together scholars, students and the public in the greater metropolitan Washington DC area to discuss new and often provocative and controversial topics that arise in and from neuroscientific research and use.

The author of over 175 peer-reviewed papers, and 6 books in neuroscience and ethics, Prof. Dr. Giordano is Editor-in-Chief of the journals Philosophy, Ethics, and Humanities in Medicine, and Synesis: A Journal of Science, Technology, Ethics and Policy; Associate Editor for the journal Neuroethics, Executive Editor-in-Chief of the book series Advances in Neurotechnology: Ethical, Legal and Social Issues (published by CRC Press), and Associate Editor of the book series Augmenting Human Performance (Springer Verlag). His recent books include: Neurotechnology: Premises, Potential and Problems (CRC Press); Scientific and Philosophical Perspectives in Neuroethics (with Bert Gordijn; Cambridge University Press), Maldynia: Multidisciplinary Perspectives on the Illness of Chronic Pain (Taylor-Francis), and Pain Medicine: Philosophy, Ethics and Policy (with Mark Boswell, Linton Atlantic Books).

Prof. Dr. Giordano was awarded a BSc in physiological psychology (cum laude) from St Peter’s College; an M.A in neuropsychology from Norwich University, VT; and MPhil and PhD degrees in philosophy of psychology and biopsychology, respectively, from the City University of New York, NY (with highest honors). He was NIEHS Post-doctoral Fellow in neuropathology and neurotoxicology at the Johns Hopkins University, MD,  APA Fellow in neuroimaging at the Athinoula Martinos Center of Harvard University/Massachusetts General Hospital, MA, and completed post-graduate training in bioethics and health policy at the Neiswanger Institute of Loyola University, Chicago, IL.

In recognition of his ongoing work, he (and his colleague and collaborator, Prof. Dr. Roland Benedikter of Stanford University, CA) received the 2012 Klaus Reichert Prize in Medicine and Philosophy, one of Germany’s most prestigious awards for scholarship affecting society and public life. In addition, Prof. Dr. Giordano has been named Sigma Xi 2013-2014 National Distinguished Lecturer, IEEE National Distinguished Lecturer, serves on the Neuroscience, Ethics and Human Trajectory Advisory boards of the Lifeboat Foundation, and was elected to the European Academy of Sciences and Arts in 2008.

He and his wife Sherry, an editor, artist and naturalist, divide their time between Bad Tölz, and Old Town Alexandria, VA, in the USA.

Research Areas:

  1. Examining current and future neuroscientific and neurotechnologic advances;
  1. Pragmatic evaluation of the capabilities and limitations of these approaches, and

3.) Explicating and addressing the scope, potential and problems of neurotechnologic applications in healthcare, public life and global socio-cultural economics and security.   

Core areas of inquiry:

Key questions addressed by this research include:
-What is the direction of neuroscientific inquiry and neurotechnological progress?

-How has such progress established our current neuroscientific epistemology?

-Can – and in what ways - will this neuroscientific approach be focused upon the human condition and predicament across the lifespan and generations?

-How might neurocentric criteria be developed and employed as viable metrics upon which to develop ethico-legal and social values, attitudes and regard?

These questions are seen as fundamental to understanding the tensions inherent to the interactions of scientific advancement, the ethical domains of research and medical practice, and social values and contexts.

Such issues include:
 -Ongoing debate as to whether particular interventions represent treatment(s) or enhancements(s);

-The use or misuse of neurogenetic and neuroimaging data, and

-Ethical dilemmas arising within the contexts of policy, clinical practice and the scope and tenor of current and future research directions.

Mission and Goals

In light rapid neuroscientific and neurotechnologic advancement, and the potential benefits, burdens and harms that such developments may foster, ongoing work is devoted to assessing the validity and value of current systems, principles and approaches in neuroethics to better determine if and how such approaches may be employed to address the aforementioned issues.  In this way, current principles will be evaluated, revisions posited,  or in some cases replaced by newer neuroethical concepts and tools that are more reflective of, and better aligned with current epistemological capital and bio-social change(s) fostered by neuroscience.

This newly defined neuroethics serves as a basis to:
(a) analyze current, key issues and problems in generational research and healthcare; (b) posit potential resolutions to these issues, questions and problems, and
(c) inform guidelines, policy and law(s) that govern and direct geriatric healthcare. 

The goal, therefore, is to define and engage multi-disciplinary discourse on these issues in an attempt to elucidate foci of conflict, reconcile disparities and forge inroads to generate ethical balance, policy and programs of research, education, and care that are in pace with neuroscientific progress and neurotechnological capability.

Toward these ends, efforts are specifically dedicated to:

  1. Defining the pace and extent of neuroscientific and neurotechnological developments, through assessment of actual capabilities, limitations and potential de-limitations of current – and near future - techniques and tools that can be used in research and care across both the lifespan and generations;
  2. Assessing needs and demands of stake- and share-holders in healthcare and the public sphere that will benefit from and/or bear the burdens of the use of neuroscience and neurotechnology;
  3. Identifying, explicating and addressing ethico-legal and social problems arising from neuroscientific and neurotechnological approaches to affect, and in some cases alter the human condition, human predicament if not the human being across generations; 
  4. Evaluating extant neuroethical, legal and social systems in terms of viability to effectively address and resolve such issues, questions and problems.
  5. Improving existing neuroethical systems, and developing novel neuroethical approaches to analyze, guide and govern the use of neuroscience and neurotechnology on the world-stage.

Recent Publications:

Giordano J. Pain  and suffering: Körper and Leib, and the telos of pain care. Philosophy, Psychiatry, Psychol 19(4): 279-283 (2013).

Rossi J, Novotny P, Kohls NB, Giordano J. Decision technologies: Practical considerations, ethico-legal implications, and the need for dialectical evaluation. Synesis: A Journal of Science, Technology, Ethics and Policy.4 (2013)

Giordano J. Neuroimaging in psychiatry: Approaching the puzzle as a piece of the bigger picture(s). AJOB-Neuroscience 3(4): 54-56 (2012).

Giordano J, Benedikter R, Flores, N. Neuroeconomics: An emerging field of theory and practice. Eur Bus Rev. 7: 45-47 (2012).

Benedikter R, Giordano J. Neurotechnology: New frontiers for European policy. Pan Euro Network Sci Tech 3: 204-207 (2012).

Wurzman R, Giordano J. Differential susceptibility to plasticity: a 'missing link' between gene-culture co-evolution and neuropsychiatric spectrum disorders? BMC Medicine, 10:37 (2012).

Giordano J. Unpacking neuroscience and neurotechnology - instructions not included: neuroethics required. Neuroethics, 4(3), (2012)

Plischke H, Du Rousseau D, Giordano J. EEG-based neurofeedback: The promise of neurotechnology and need for neuroethically-informed guidelines and policies. J. Ethics Biol Engineer Med 4(2): 7-18, (2012)

Giordano J. Public health: History, theory and modern practices and challenges. In: Anheier K, Juergensmeyer M. (eds.) Encyclopedia of Global Studies. Fairfield CA: SAGE. (2012) p. 1414-1419.

Giordano J, Benedikter R, Kohls NB. Neuroscience and the importance of a neurobioethics: A reflection upon Fritz Jahr. In: Muzur A, Sass H-M. (eds.) Fritz Jahr and the Foundations of Integrative Bioethics.Münster; Berlin: LIT Verlag. (2012).

Giordano J. Integrative convergence in neuroscience: trajectories, problems and the need for a progressive neurobioethics. In: Vaseashta A, Braman E, Sussman, P. (eds.) Technological Innovation in Sensing and Detecting Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear Threats and Ecological Terrorism. (NATO Science for Peace and Security Series), NY: Springer, (2012).

Giordano J. Keeping science and technology education In-STEP with the realities of the world stage: Inculcating responsibility for the power of STEM. Synesis: A Journal of Science, Technology, Ethics and Policy. 3(1): G1-5 (2012).

Alam S, Patel J, Giordano J. Working toward a new psychiatry –neuroscience, technology, and the DSM-5. Phil Ethics Humanities in Med 7:1 (2012).

Giordano J, Benedikter R. An early - and necessary - flight of the Owl of Minerva: Neuroscience, neurotechnology, human socio-cultural boundaries, and the importance of neuroethics. J. Evolution and Technol. 22(1): 14-25. (2012)

Kawa S, Giordano J.  A brief historicity of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM): Issues and implications for the future of psychiatric canon and practice.  Phil Ethics Humanities Med 6(17), (2012).

Benedikter R, Giordano, J. The outer and inner transformation of the global sphere through technology: The state of two fields in transition. New Global Studies; 5(2); (2011).

Giordano J. On the implications of changing constructs of pain and addiction disorders in the DSM-5: Language games, ethics and actions. Int J Law Healthcare Ethics; 7(1); (2011).

Giordano J, Wurzman R. Neurotechnology as weapons in national intelligence and defense.
                        Synesis: A Journal of Science, Technology, Ethics and Policy; 2: 138-151 (2011).

Kohls N, Sauer S, Offenbächer M, Giordano J. Spirituality- an overlooked predictor of placebo effects? Phil Trans R Soc (Biol); 366: 1938-1848 (2011).

Giordano J. Neuroethics- two interacting traditions as a viable meta-ethics? AJOB-Neuroscience 3(1); 23-25 (2011).

Giordano J, Schatman ME. Pain medicine from “bench to bedside”: Bridging the disconnect(s) between research and clinical care. J Humanities Sci Healthcare 1(1): 22-40 (2011).

Giordano J, Benedikter R. The shifting architectonics of pain medicine: Toward ethical re-alignment of scientific, medical and market values for the emerging global community - groundwork for policy. Pain Medicine, 12(3): 406-414 (2011).

Giordano J, DuRousseau D. Toward right and good use of brain-machine interfacing neurotechnologies: Ethical issues and implications for guidelines and policy. Cog. Technol. 15 (2): 5-10 (2011).

Giordano J. Neuroethical issues in neurogenetics and neurotransplantation technology – the need for pragmatism and preparedness in practice and policy. Studies Ethics, Law Technol. 5(1) (2011).

Giordano J. Pharmacogenetics in pain care: Consideration of economic impediments and ethical imperatives. Prac Pain Management 11(2): 53-58 (2011).

Giordano J. Diversity in pharmacologic treatment of pain: Neuroscientific, ethical and policy issues. Prac Pain Management 11(1): 45-50 (2011).