Karen S. Rommelfanger


Director, Neuroethics Program
Assistant Professor, Departments of Neurology and Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences
(404) 727-1150

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Areas of Expertise:
Brain Machine Interface
Cognitive Enhancement
Cross-cultural Neuroethics
Psychogenic Disorders
Neuroscience communication


Karen Rommelfanger is the Program Director of Emory University’s  Neuroethics Program  at the Center for Ethics and is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Neurology and in the Department of Psychiatry at Emory University. Dr. Rommelfanger received her PhD in Neuroscience from Emory University. She is also the Senior Associate Editor for the American Journal of Bioethics Neuroscience and board member of the International Neuroethics Society.  She also serves as a member of the BRAIN Initiative’s Neuroethics Working Group  and the advisory council to the director of NIH for BRAIN 2025. In her recent international work, she is co-chair of the International Brain Initiative’s Neuroethics Workgroup and is a member of the Global Futures Council on Neurotechnology for the World Economic Forum.

One area of her current research explores the nature and utility of placebo using Psychogenic Movement Disorders as a therapeutic model. Another area includes brain machine interfaces (such as deep brain stimulation or brain to brain interface). An overarching them in her work is the exploration of how evolving neuroscience and neurotechnologies challenge societal definitions of disease and medicine with a focus on predictive technologies. She is also engaged in research in cross-cultural neuroethics. To that end she is leading the Global Neuroethics Summit series convening of all national-level brain projects around the globe to engage in neuroethics collaboration and discourse; she serves as the U.S. BRAIN Neuroethics Division ambassador to the Human Brain Project's Ethics Advisory Board and is a member of the China-India Mental Health Alliance. She is also a board member of the International Neuroethics Society.

Dr. Rommelfanger has been a neuroscience researcher for over 10 years and her work has been published in high-impact peer-reviewed journals such as the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, and the Journal of Neuroscience; her research on Parkinson Disease has been featured in the popular media including Scientific American. She has presented her work at both international and national conferences and has worked in prestigious laboratories in the U.S. and Japan using a broad array of neurotechnologies from brain imaging and behavioral techniques to electrophysiological recording of individual brain cells.

She regularly gives Neuroethics talks in both universities and for general audiences; her neuroethics work has been published in top peer-reviewed neuroethics journals and Nature Reviews Neurology and Neuron. She maintains and writes for The Neuroethics Blog at Emory University. Dr. Rommelfanger's public scholarship has been featured in The Huffington Post, The Chronicle for Higher Education, and Nature blogs and she has been quoted in popular media outlets such as The New York Times and USA Today. She also founded NEW (NeuroEthicsWomen) Leaders, an organization that aims to cultivate professional development and scholarly networks for women and under-represented groups in neuroethics. Dr. Rommelfanger believes that neuroethics training gives neuroscientists a creative edge and that neuroethics discussions are critical for academics and general audiences alike in order to ensure maximal benefit of neuroscience discoveries for society.