• Jason Karlawish, MD

Jason Karlawish, MD


Jason Karlawish cares for patients at the Penn Memory Center. His research focuses on issues in bioethics. He investigates the development and translation of Alzheimer’s disease treatments and diagnostics, informed consent, quality of life, research and treatment decision making, and voting by persons with cognitive impairment and residents of long term care facilities. He is an international proponent of mobile polling, a method of bringing the vote to long term care facilities that minimizes fraud and maximizes voter rights. In a widely publicized essay in the Journal of the American Medical Association, he introduced the concept of “desktop medicine,” a theory of medicine that recognizes how risk and its numerical representations are transforming medicine, medical care, and health.

He is the author of Open Wound: The Tragic Obsession of Dr. William Beaumont, a novel based on true events along the 19th century American frontier, that tells how emotion and passion, together with social and political pressures, slowly corrupt the physician’s character and ethics, a corruption that drives Dr. Beaumont to increasingly desperate acts.

Karlawish has disseminated his work in peer reviewed publications and chapters in leading textbooks of medicine and bioethics, testimony to the Senate Select Committee on Aging and the Department of Health and Human Services Subcommittee on the Inclusion of Individuals with Impaired Decision-making in Research, and collaborations with the Alzheimers Disease Cooperative Study, the Alzheimers Association, American Bar Association, American Association of Retired Persons, the Department of Housing and Urban Development, the State of Vermont, the U.S. Election Assistance Commission, and the U.S. Government Accountability Office.

He is the associate director of the Penn Memory Center and a member of the Board of Directors of the Greenwall Foundation.

Selected Publications

Meisel ZF, Karlawish J:

2011. "Narrative vs Evidence-Based Medicine--And, Not Or." Journal of the American Medical Association, 306(18): 2022-2023.

Karlawish J:

2011. "Addressing the ethical, policy, and social challenges of pre-clinical Alzheimer's disease." Neurology, 77(15): 1487-93.

Karlawish J, Sabatino C, Markowitz D, Rubright J, Klem E, Boruch RF:

2011. "Bringing the vote to the residents of long-term care facilities: A study of the benefits and challenges of mobile polling." Election Law Journal, 10(1): 5-14.

Karlawish, J:

"Desktop Medicine." Journal of the American Medical Association, 304(18): 2061-2062.

Karlawish J, Rubright J, Casarett D, Cary M, TenHave T, Sankar P:

2009. "Older adults' attitudes toward noncompetent subjects participating in Alzheimer's research." American Journal of Psychiatry, 166(2): 182-8.

Karlawish J, Cary MS, Rubright J, TenHave T:

2008. "How redesigning AD clinical trials might increase study partners' willingness to participate." Neurology, 71(23): 1883-8.

Karlawish JH, Kim SY, Knopman D, Van Dyck CH, James B, Marson D:

2008. "Interpreting the clinical significance of capacity scores for informed consent in AD clinical trials." American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry, 16(7): 568-74.

Karlawish JH, Bonnie RJ:

2007. "Voting by elderly persons with cognitive impairment: Lessons from other democratic nations." McGeorge Law Review, 38: 880-916.

Lai JM, Karlawish JH:

2007. "Assessing the capacity to make everyday decisions: A guide for clinicians and an agenda for future research." American Journal Geriatric Psychiatry, 15(2): 101-11.

Karlawish JH, Bonnie RJ, Appelbaum PS, Lyketsos C, James B, Knopman D, Patusky C, Kane RA, Karlan PS:

2004. "Addressing the ethical, legal, and social issues raised by voting by persons with dementia." Journal of the American Medical Association, 292(11): 1345-50.


Northwestern University, MD

Johns Hopkins University (Internal Medicine)

University of Chicago (Geriatric Medicine)

Featured Media

Q&A with Jason Karlawish, author of Open Wound: The Tragic Obsession of Dr. William Beaumont (The University of Michigan Press)

Michigan Writers on the Air (Interlochen Public Radio)
This month on Michigan Writers on the Air, Aaron Stander talks with Dr. Jason Karlawish about his new work of historical fiction, Open Wound, The Tragic Obsession of Dr. William Beaumont.