Jonathan H. Marks

Jonathan H. Marks

Jonathan H. Marks

Professor of Bioethics, Humanities, Law, and Philosophy
Director, Bioethics Program
Affiliate Faculty of Public Policy and International Affairs
2022-23 Rock Ethics Institute Faculty Fellow
007 Thomas Building


Jonathan H. Marks is director of the Bioethics Program at Penn State, where he is also professor of bioethics, humanities, law, and philosophy, and affiliate faculty in the Schools of International Affairs and Public Policy.

From 2009 to 2015, professor Marks was also affiliated with the Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics at Harvard and, prior to joining Penn State, he was a Greenwall Fellow in Bioethics and Health Policy at Georgetown and Johns Hopkins Universities. He received his MA, BCL (equivalent to JD, LLM) from the University of Oxford. Marks is also a barrister and academic member of Matrix Chambers in London and Geneva. While in full-time legal practice, professor Marks was involved in a number of landmark cases including the Pinochet case and the Olivieri case—the latter arising from a dispute between a physician-researcher and the industry sponsor of her clinical trials.

Professor Marks has published widely on the intersections of law, ethics, and policy, and his work has appeared in the New England Journal of Medicine, American Journal of Law and Medicine, American Journal of Bioethics, and the Hastings Center Report (among others). He has also authored or co-authored op-eds for the New York Times, Los Angeles Times and The Times (London). He has published several pieces on the role of health professionals in detention and interrogation in the “war on terror” and, more broadly, on the relationships between professional ethics and human rights, and between neuroscience and national security. This work draws on his background in international law, as well as his expertise in bioethics.

Much of professor Marks’s recent research focuses on corporate influence in medicine and public health. His book, The Perils of Partnership: Industry Influence, Institutional Integrity, and Public Health (Oxford University Press, 2019) was a finalist for the North American Society of Social Philosophy Book Award. Although the book focuses on the food and soda industries, professor Marks explored the ways in which the influence of the pharmaceutical industry contributed to the opioid epidemic in the Journal of Bioethical Inquiry (2020). And in another recent article in the American Journal of Law and Medicine, he argues that disclosure of conflicts of interest can help illuminate corporate influence, but should not be relied upon to eliminate such influence.

In the initial months of COVID-19, professor Marks wrote a short piece for the American Journal of Bioethics arguing that policymakers should address structural injustice in their responses to the pandemic. He is currently working on a collection of lyrical essays that explore the relationships among pandemic ethics, structural injustice, and social change. For further information and to download sample publications, please click here.

Project Title:  What Will Become of Us: Pandemic Ethics, Structural Injustice, and Social Chance

Abstract:  In a series of lyrical essays drawing on literature, art, film, memoir, and social history, I explore the systemic ethical implications of pandemics (past, present, and future) and the ways in which institutions, communities, and societies respond to them. Among the topics addressed: why some kinds of narratives about pandemic origins appeal to us, and others do not; how pandemics influence our conceptions of “self” and “other,” and of “us” and “them”; how choice masquerades as chance in a pandemic (in particular, how triage policies and lotteries for the allocation of scarce medical resources distract attention from continuing failures in planning and preparedness); how notions of liberty are exploited in debates about vaccination and mask mandates; how the visibility and invisibility of bodies influence public perceptions of the severity of pandemics; how pandemics and public health emergencies shape our understanding of the relationship between individual health and public health; and what we can learn from the effects of structural injustice and other recurring themes in the history of pandemics in order to better address present and future pandemics, and other public health emergencies.


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