Merlin Chowkwanyun

Merlin Chowkwanyun

Merlin Chowkwanyun

Donald H. Gemson Assistant Professor
Sociomedical Sciences


722 W. 168th St. R931
New York NY United States 10036
Website address: Email:


Merlin Chowkwanyun's work centers on the history of community health; environmental health regulation; racial inequality; and social movement/activism around health. He just finished a book called All Health Politics is Local: Battles for Community Health in the Mid-Century United States, which will be published by UNC Press. He is working on another book on political unrest at medical schools and neighborhood health activism during the 1960s and 1970s. Chowkwanyun is also the PI (co-PI David Rosner) on a recent National Science Foundation Standard Research Grant for, a depository of millions of pages of once-secret documents on industrial poisons. He teaches courses on health advocacy and mixed methods, and in the CORE, co-teaches the social determinants module. He is most proud of the two teaching awards he has won at Mailman for Excellence in Teaching and Innovation in Teaching and is a loud and annoying Los Angeles Lakers fan.



PhD, 2013, University of Pennsylvania
MPH, 2012, University of Pennsylvania
BA, 2005, Columbia University

Mailman Affiliations

Faculty, Center for the History and Ethics of Public Health

Honors & Awards

2018 Innovation in Teaching Award, Mailman School of Public Health
2017 Excellence in Teaching Award, Mailman School of Public Health
Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Health & Society Scholar, University of Wisconsin-Madison (2013-2015)

Areas of Expertise

Data Management, Spatial Analysis, Community-Based Healthcare, Disparities / Inequalities in Health, Immigrant Health, Pollution--Air/Ground/Water, Healthcare Policy, History of Public Health

Select Publications

"Health, Social Reform, and Medical Schools - The Training of American Physicians and the Dissenting Tradition," New England Journal of Medicine 381 (November 7, 2019)
"Racial Health Disparities and Covid-19 — Caution and Context," New England Journal of Medicine 383 (July 16, 2020)
Biocitizenship on the Ground: The Medical Governance Revolution of the 1960s and 1970s in Kelly Happe, Jennell Johnson, Marina Levina, eds., Biocitizenship (New York: New York University Press, 2018)
Cleveland vs. the Clinic: The 1960s Riots and Community Health Reform. American Journal of Public Health 101(November 2018).
'Precision' Public Health: Between Novelty and Hype, New England Journal of Medicine, e-pub advanced print DOI: 10.1056/NEJMp1806634 (with Ronald Bayer and Sandro Galea)
"The Neurosis That Has Possessed Us": Political Repression in the Cold War Medical Profession, Journal of the History of Medicine and Allied Sciences 73, no. 3 (July 2018)
The War on Poverty Health Legacy: What It Was and Why It Matters, Health Affairs 37, no. 1 (January 2018)
The Strange Disappearance of History in Racial Health Disparities Research, Du Bois Review 8, no. 1 (2011)
Race, Class, Crisis: The Discourse of Disparity and its Analytical Discontents,Socialist Register 48, no. 1 (2012) (with Adolph Reed Jr.)
The New Left and Public Health: The Health Policy Advisory Center (Health/PAC), Community Organizing, and the Big Business of Health (1967- 1975), American Journal of Public Health 101, no. 2 (Feburary 2011)

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