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Jacob M. Appel (born February 21, 1973) is an Americanmarker author, bioethicist and social critic. He is best known for his short stories, his work as a playwright, and his writing in the fields of reproductive ethics, organ donation, neuroethics and euthanasia.


Appel was born in the Bronxmarker and grew up in Scarsdale, New Yorkmarker. He received a B.A. and an M.A., both from Brown Universitymarker; an M.A. and an M.Phil from Columbia University; an M.D. from Columbia University's College of Physicians and Surgeons, an M.F.A. in creative writing from New York Universitymarker, and a J.D. from Harvard Law Schoolmarker. He has been admitted to the bar in New Yorkmarker and Rhode Islandmarker.


Over one hundred of Appel's short stories have been published in numerous literary journals, including Agni, The Alaska Quarterly Review, Colorado Review, Florida Review, Green Mountains Review, The Greensboro Review, Gulf Stream Magazine, The Iowa Review, Lake Effect, Louisiana Literature, Michigan Quarterly Review, North Dakota Quarterly, Raritan Quarterly Review, Shenandoah, South Dakota Review, Southern Humanities Review, Southwest Review, StoryQuarterly, StorySouth, The Threepenny Review, West Branch, and Xavier Review.

The Boston Review named his short story, "Shell Game with Organs" the winner of its 1998 short fiction contest. He has won three New Millennium Writings first prizes in fiction (in 2004, 2007, 2008) for his short stories "Enoch Arden's One Night Stands," "Hazardous Cargoes," and "The Appraisal" (shared with Asha Vose). He won the William Faulkner-William Wisdom Award for best short story in 2004 and a Sherwood Anderson Foundation grant in 2005. Appel's stories have also won competitions held by The Missouri Review, Arts & Letters, Briar Cliff Review, North American Review, and Sycamore Review. His story "Counting" was short-listed for the O. Henry Award in 2001. In 2006 and 2007, he received a Special Mention by the Pushcart Prize. In 2007 and 2008, his short stories were listed among the notable works of the year by The Best American Short Stories and The Best American Non-required Reading.

Appel is also an accomplished playwright, with his play The Mistress of Wholesome winning the 2008 Writer’s Digest writing competition. His plays have been performed by companies across the U.S., including the Detroit Repertory Theatre, Heller Theatre, and Epilogue Players.

Appel has taught creative writing at the Gotham Writers' Workshop and New York Universitymarker.


Academic Bioethics

As a professional bioethicist, Appel has published in Hastings Center Report, The Cambridge Quarterly of Healthcare Ethics, The Journal of Medical Ethics, Bulletin of the History of Medicine, and GeneWatch, the journal of the Council for Responsible Genetics.

Appel has argued in favor of abortion rights, assisted suicide (not only for the terminally ill, but also for those suffering from long-term mental illness), and fertility treatment for homosexuals. He has also argued against electronic medical records. He has raised concerns regarding the possibility that employers will require their employees to use pharmaceuticals for cognitive enhancement and has urged that death row inmates be eligible to receive kidney transplants. He generated considerable controversy for endorsing the mandatory use of preimplantation genetic diagnosis as part of the in vitro fertilization process to prevent the implantation of embryos carrying severe genetic defects. Appel has also written in support of an "open border" immigration policy.

He has taught medical ethics at New York University, Columbia University and at Brown University's Alpert Medical School.


Appel writes for both The Huffington Post and Opposing Views. He has staked out a libertarian position of many bioethical issues, advocating a worldview that he describes as "a culture of liberty." He has also authored opinion pieces in The New York Times, New York Daily News, Chicago Tribune, Orlando Sentinel, Albany Times-Union, Tucson Citizen, Detroit Free Press, New Haven Register and The Providence Journal.


  • The Resurrection of Dismas and Gestas (2005)
  • In the Floodplain (2005)
  • Arborophilia (2006)
  • The Three Belles of Eden (2006)
  • Thirds (2007)
  • The Mistress of Wholesome (2007)
  • The Replacement (2008)
  • Woodpecker (2008)
  • Causa Mortis (2009)
  • Helen of Sparta (2009)

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