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Robert S. Wachbroit
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Robert S. Wachbroit Ph.D.

Academic Title: Associate Professor (non-adjunct Faculty)
Primary Appointment: Epidemiology & Public Health
Location: Howard Hall, 142B

Personal History:

Robert Wachbroit received a B.S in Physics from Massachusetts Institute of Technology and then went on to do graduate work in philosophy at Oxford and at the University of California (Berkeley), where he received a Ph.D. in Philosophy. He joined the Institute for Philosophy and Public Policy in the School of Public Policy at the University of Maryland in 1986 after teaching several years in the Philosophy Department at the University of Pennsylvania. From 1987 to 1991 he held a joint appointment with the Institute for Philosophy and Public Policy and the Maryland Biotechnology Institute's Center for Public Issues in Biotechnology. He joined the faculty of the School of Medicine in 2011.

Research Interests:

Dr. Wachbroit has written many articles in the areas of bioethics, health policy, science and technology policy, and philosophy of science, including articles on the ethics of medical research, the principles of disease classification, the challenges of genetic testing and diagnosis, the controversy over cloning and stem cell research, the problems inherent in risk characterization and risk communication, the changing relationships between experts and the public, and the impact of the Internet on civil society. In support of his research he has received grants from the National Science Foundation, the National Human Genome Research Institute of the National Institutes of Health, the Ford Foundation, the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, the German Academic Exchange Service, the Alpha-1 Foundation, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the National Institute of Mental Health.


  1. Wachbroit, R.S. "Rethinking Confidentiality: The Impact of Genetics." The Suffolk University Law Review 27 (1993): 1392-1410.
  2. Wachbroit, R.S. "Distinguishing Genetic Disease and Genetic Susceptibility." American Journal of Medical Genetics 53 (1994): 236-240.
  3. Wachbroit, R.S. "Normality as a Biological Concept."  Philosophy of Science 61 (1994): 579-591.
  4. Wachbroit, R.S. and Wasserman, D. "Patient Autonomy and Value-Neutrality in Nondirective Genetic Counseling." Stanford Law & Policy Review 6 (1995) 103-112.
  5. Schaffner, K.F. and Wachbroit, R.S. "Il Cancro come Malattia Genetica: Problemi Sociali ed Etici" (Cancer as a Genetic Disease: Social and Ethical Problems)  L'Arco di Giano: Rivista di Medical Humanities 6 (1995) 13-29.
  6. Wachbroit, R.S. "Human Genetic Engineering" in The Encyclopedia of Bioethics, 936-940 (Macmillan, 1995).
  7. Wachbroit, R.S. "The Question Not Asked: The Challenge of Pleiotropic Genetic Tests" Kennedy Institute of Ethics Journal 8 (1998): 131-144.
  8. Wachbroit, R.S. " Disowning Knowledge: Issues in Genetic Testing," in Intervention and Reflection: Basic Issues in Medical Ethics, 6th Edition, ed. R. Munson (Wadsworth Publishing Co, 1999). Reprinted in Philosophical Dimensions of Public Policy, ed. V. Gehring and W. Galston (Transaction Publishers, New Brunswick, NJ, 2002) 239-246. Reprinted in Human Genetics, 7th Enhanced Content Edition, ed. M. Cummings (Thomson Higher Education, 2006).
  9. Wachbroit, R.S. "The Changing Role of Expertise in Public Deliberation," in Civil Society, Democracy, and Civic Renewal, ed. R.K. Fullinwider (Rowman and Littlefield, 1999) 355-374.
  10. Wachbroit, R.S. "Understanding the Genetics of Violence Controversy," in Genetics and Criminal Behavior, ed. D. Wasserman and R.S. Wachbroit (Cambridge University Press, 2001) 23-46.
  11. Wachbroit, R.S., "Stem Cell Research and the Legacy of Abortion" in Genetic Prospects, ed. V. Gerhing (Rowman & Littlefield, 2003) 75-84.
  12. Wachbroit, R.S. and Wasserman, D., "Ethical Issues in Reproductive Technology," in Oxford Handbook of Practical Ethics, ed. Hugh LaFollette (Oxford University Press, 2003) 136-160.
  13. Wachbroit, R.S. and Wasserman, D., "Research Participation: Are We Subject to a Duty," American Journal of Bioethics 5 (2005): 48-9.
  14. Wachbroit, R.S., "Assessing Quality of Life: Clinical Versus Health Policy Uses," in Quality of Life and Human Differences ed Wasserman, D., Bickenbach, J., and Wachbroit, R.S. (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2005) 27-42.
  15. Wachbroit, R.S., "Normality and Human Difference" in Wrestling with Behavioral Genetics: Implications for Understanding Selves and Society, ed. Erik Parens, Audrey Chapman, and Nancy Press (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2006) 235-253.
  16. Wasserman, D., Hellman, D., and Wachbroit, R.S., "Physicians as Researchers: Difficulties with the 'Similarity Position'" American Journal of Bioethics 6 (July/August 2006), 57-9.
  17. Wachbroit, R.S., "The Prospects for  Neuro-Exceptionalism: Transparent Lies, Naked Minds," American Journal of Bioethics – Neuroscience 8 (January 2008), 3-8.
  18. Wachbroit, R.S., "Assessing Phase I Clinical Trials," Law, Probability, and Risk 9 (September-December 2010), 179-86.
  19. Wachbroit, R.S. "Concepts of Health and Disease" in The Encyclopedia of Applied Ethics, Second Edition(Academic Press, 2012). Rewritten article for second edition.
  20. Wachbroit, R.S., "On Wendler’s New Justification of Pediatric Research," American Journal of Bioethics 12 (January 2012), 40-2.
  21. Wachbroit, R.S., "Human Subjects, Research Use of"," International Encyclopedia of Ethics, ed. Hugh LaFollette (Wiley-Blackwell, forthcoming).