About James Caplan
Businessman, economist, artist and medical innovator
He’s traveled the world and seen it all, educated at some of the finest academic institutions, and even devised a ground-breaking treatment for sickle cell disease. Through all these achievements and experiences, Caplan has remained dedicated to making other people’s lives better, whether inspiring through his artworks or bringing a pain-free life to those suffering from what can be a debilitating chronic condition.
Born in 1944, Caplan entered a world in the middle of the Second World War that was on the brink of change. He grew up on the borders of Philadelphia’s famed “Main Line.” Caplan’s father was an assistant to Gen. “Hap” Arnold, founder of the Army Air Force, while his mother served with the FBI on war security. The public schools he attended were places where his dedicated teachers ensured discipline reigned supreme.
Art always was a part of his life. He started sculpting at the age of 14, studying under Joe Greenberg of the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Art. Caplan was long obsessed with and inspired by the works of Rodin. He learned to sculpt in clay using the figures at the Rodin Museum in Philadelphia as primary inspiration. From these sculptures, he learned that intentional and slight distortions of form created movement — the art could feel “alive” and very human by way of slight deviations from more exact replications of lifelike forms. Later, when he would begin painting, he came to love how the random nature of abstract art could open new worlds of artistic experience.
He would go on to Penn State for his undergraduate years, joining the soccer team. During his time there, he headed the off-campus student tribunal where he formed an Ad Hoc Committee for Student Freedom, to protest the lack of women’s rights, organizing a major sit-in on the campus’s “Old Main.”
A reflection of the wide range of his interests, Caplan would earn a National Science Foundation Scholarship to the London School of Economics and Yale University following his undergraduate years at Penn State. He traveled the world, meeting and being mentored by leading minds of culture and science.