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Keith Wailoo, Ph.D.

Term: January 1, 2014 - August 31, 2016

As Townsend Martin Professor of History and Public Affairs at Princeton, Dr. Wailoo is jointly appointed in the Department of History and the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs. His research spans the past and the present, examining a wide array of issues in public health, scientific and technological innovation in medical care, technology and medical specialization, and the role of identity (particularly gender, race and ethnicity) in American health and medicine. His academic appointments, teaching, research, and administrative work have always straddled disciplines (history, medicine, health policy), leaning heavily toward cross-disciplinary engagement -- marshaling insights from multiple fields in service of education and scholarship.

After earning a Bachelor’s degree in Chemical Engineering at Yale University, Dr. Wailoo spent three years as a science writer before pursuing a Ph.D. in the History and Sociology of Science at the University of Pennsylvania. Before joining the Princeton faculty, he taught for nine years at UNC Chapel Hill followed by nine years at Rutgers, with one year as a visiting professor at Harvard. At UNC, he taught at the intersection of medicine, public health, and history – in the Department of Social Medicine in the Medical School at UNC Chapel Hill (jointly appointed in History) – and took on broad roles in medical education. After leaving UNC, he joined the Rutgers University faculty in the Institute for Health, Health Care Policy, and Aging Research (again jointly appointed in the History Department).

While at Rutgers, Dr. Wailoo was founding director of the Center for Race and Ethnicity, reporting to the Vice President for Academic Affairs. The CRE became a locus for highlighting the university’s breadth and depth of scholarship on global and domestic U.S. issues in race and ethnicity. His accomplishments in five years as the Center’s director include the following: building its programming (cross-university roundtable discussions, faculty forums, graduate student forums, undergraduate forums and events); initiating collaborative research with the goal of drawing attention to the university’s strengths; and producing two edited volumes based on these initiatives, published in a new series with Rutgers University Press.

Dr. Wailoo's work at the CRE involved me in the broad agenda of bridging and transforming academic silos: producing media such as regular online newsletters to document, brand, and promote the Center as a catalyst for collaborative scholarship; initiating new cross-disciplinary undergraduate teaching; defining the Center’s staff positions and hiring staff and graduate affiliates; affiliating faculty with the Center, and (perhaps the
CRE’s most important) working with the Vice President for Academic Affairs (Provost), the university’s President, Department Chairs, and university Deans on cluster hiring initiatives linked to Center programming that became a critical force in faculty recruitment and retention.

Over the years, he  has taught a range of courses and students – across the Arts and Sciences, and in medical education. At the medical school at UNC, his courses included a required 1st year medical school course (co-taught with faculty in ethics, law, sociology, anthropology, clinical medicine, and political science) on Social and Cultural Issues in Medical Practice, as well as second year selective courses on topics such as “Medicine, the Family, and the Politics of Child Health” and “Disease in Historical Perspective,” and courses for fourth year students and residents). At Chapel Hill, he also taught undergraduate courses in U.S. History and a survey course, Medicine and Society in America. At Rutgers, Dr. Wailoo taught courses on “Drugs, Medicine, and Society,” graduate courses in History, and ran a series of McDonnell grant-funded multidisciplinary year-long research workshops for graduate students (from Arts and Sciences and professional schools), a model I carried over into the Center for Race and Ethnicity. At Princeton, I teach a large undergraduate course “Race, Drugs, and Drug Policy in America,” and taught a junior policy task force in the Woodrow Wilson School on foster care children and the uses and misuses of antipsychotic drugs – our client was the New Jersey Department of Children and Families. At Princeton, He is an active faculty member in the Program in the History of Science, and am developing a new WWS course for Fall 2012 on Modern Genetics and Public Policy.

Dr. Wailoo's books examine a wide range of issues in the history, evolution, and contemporary politics of health. They include four books (one of which was co-authored with a former graduate student) grappling with questions of specialization, technology, race, and health disparities in America, and four edited volumes bringing authors from across fields to shed new light on contemporary public policy challenges. The authored books include: How Cancer Crossed the Color Line (Oxford University Press, 2011); The Troubled Dream of Genetic Medicine: Ethnicity and Innovation in Tay-Sachs, Cystic Fibrosis, Sickle Cell Disease (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2006) which received the Association of American Publishers book award in History of Science; Dying in the City of the Blues: Sickle Cell Anemia and the Politics of Race and Health (University of North Carolina, 2001); and Drawing Blood: Technology and Disease Identity in Twentieth Century America (Hopkins, 1997) which received the Arthur Viseltear Award from the American Public Health Association.

Dying in the City of the Blues received significant academic and non-academic recognition: the Lillian Smith Book Award for Non-Fiction for its elucidation of questions of racial justice and inequality; the William H. Welch Medal for best book in the history of medicine, awarded by the American Association for the History of Medicine; the Susanne Glasscock Humanities Book Prize for Interdisciplinary Scholarship; the American Political Science Association Award for Best Book published in the area of Public Policies, Social and Legal Dimensions of Ethnic and Racial Politics in the U.S.; and the Community Service Award by the Sickle Cell/Thalassemia Patient Network. He is currently completing a book on the politics of pain medicine in America, tentatively titled Pain: A Political History of the United States since World War II, to be published by the Johns Hopkins University Press in Spring 2014.

He has organized and has been lead editor for many studies aimed at drawing experts together from across the disciplinary spectrum to inform contemporary health and public policy. These books: Katrina’s Imprint: Race and Vulnerability in America (Rutgers University Press, 2010), a study of the events in New Orleans and the nature of vulnerability, resilience, and recovery (this project was developed as one of his first initiatives as director of the Center for Race and Ethnicity at Rutgers); 

Three Shots at Prevention: The HPV Vaccine and the Politics of Medicine's Simple Solutions (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2010), an examination of the cultural, scientific, and political turmoil surrounding the marketing, use, and mandating of Human Papillomavirus vaccines for girls as a new approach to preventing cervical cancer; and Genetics and the Unsettled Past: The Collision of DNA, Race, and History (Rutgers University Press, 2012) which examines the implications of new genetics for reshaping ideas about race and the past, as manifested in medicine, in the courts, and in the genealogy business. The first volume in this series was A Death Retold: Jesica Santillan, the Bungled Transplant, and Paradoxes of Medical Citizenship (UNC Press, 2006), an analysis of an infamous medical error leading to the death of an undocumented immigrant girl at Duke University Medical Center in 2003. He has published articles in the British medical journal Lancet, in the Bulletin for the History of Medicine, in the Journal for the History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences, and the Journal of Health Politics, Policy, and Law.

In 2007, Dr. Wailoo was elected to the Institute of Medicine, one of the U.S. National Academies where he also serves as a member of the Health Sciences Policy Board to advise the IOM on studies it might pursue to improve the science base of health and health care, and to examine the ethical, legal, and social issues raised by advances in the biomedical sciences. In 2006, He served on the Institute of Medicine Committee on Increasing Rates of Organ Donation, contributing to its report, Organ Donation: Opportunities for Action. He also serves on the National Advisory Committee of the prestigious Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Investigator Awards in Health Policy Research program. Over the years, his research has been supported by grants and fellowships from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation, the James S. McDonnell Foundation (a major $1,000,000 award that supported a great deal of his research, academic programming and scholarship in the history of the biomedical sciences), and the Burroughs-Wellcome Fund.