Dan O’Connor

Dan O’Connor joined the Berman Institute of Bioethics as a faculty Research Scholar in 2010. He has a PhD in History and is a former Greenwall Postdoctoral Fellow in Bioethics and the History of Medicine. He is the faculty member responsible for the Berman Institute’s public engagement efforts and is an editor of the Berman Bioethics Bulletin, as well as directing the Institute’s other social media initiatives.

Dr O’Connor’s research combines approaches from across the Medical Humanities, including the History of Medicine, Philosophy and Literature, to explore the ways in which lay persons and health care practitioners experience new medical technologies. He has two main research areas:

  1. The Ethics of Social Media in Healthcare: Dr O’Connor is particularly interested in the ethics of the exchange of medical information in online social networks (such as Facebook, Twitter and forums) where traditional modes of medical authority no longer apply. His current project explores the way in which these ‘apomediated’ environments foster new ethical norms regarding privacy, truth-telling and hierarchies of medical and scientific expertise.
  2. Historicising the Ethics of Emerging Diseases:  This project examines the historical processes by which treatments for new medical conditions come to be seen as ethical within professional and lay cultures. In his research Dr O’Connor has focused particularly on transsexuality, transableism, cosmetic surgery and other forms of body modification, exploring the contested public narratives through which these procedures are constructed as ethically acceptable.

He is also interested in historical questions of retrospective moral judgments and the social construction of normative ethical positions.

He teaches several undergraduate bioethics courses as part of the Bioethics Minor at the Krieger School of Arts and Sciences. Recent courses include ‘Sex, Drugs and Bioethics: Medicine and Morality in Modern America’, ‘The Ethics and History of Human Experimentation’, and ‘The Ethics and History of Body Modification.

He is a member of the Johns Hopkins Medicine Institutional Review Board (IRB) and sits on the Privacy Board of the Chesney Medical Archives.


BA, MA, PhD, University of Warwick
Greenwall Postdoctoral Fellow, Johns Hopkins University

Selected Recent Publications:

  • O’Connor, D. The Apomediated World: Regulating Research When Social Media Has Changed Research. J. Law and Med Ethics., forthcoming July 2013.
  • O’Connor, D. A Choice to Which Adolescents Should Not be Exposed: Cosmetic Surgery as Satire. J Health Care Law Policy. 2012, 15(1): 157-172
  •  O’Connor D, Dasgupta I. Sport is arbitrary, and that’s ok. Am J Bioeth. 2012;12(7):30-1. PubMed PMID: 22694030. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22694030
  • O’Connor D. Apomediation and Ancillary Care: Researchers’ Responsibilities in Health-Related Online Communities. Int. J. Internet Res Ethics. 2001. 3(1):87-103.
  • O’Connor D. This is what happens when you forget about gender. Am J Bioeth.2010 Jul;10(7):27-9. PubMed PMID: 20582826. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20582826
  • O’Connor D. Apomediation and the significance of online social networking. Am J Bioeth. 2009;9(6-7):25-7. PubMed PMID: 19998108. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19998108