Ronald Bayer, PhD

  • Professor Emeritus of Sociomedical Sciences
  • Special Lecturer in Sociomedical Sciences
Profile Headshot


Dr. Bayer's research has examined ethical and policy issues in public health, with a special focus on AIDS, tuberculosis, illicit drugs, and tobacco. His broader goal is to develop an ethics of public health. He is the Co-Director of the Center for the History & Ethics of Public Health. He has also taken a leadership role in the HIV Center's work on ethics since the Center's beginnings and is now Co-Director of the Ethics, Policy, and Human Rights Core. Prior to coming to Columbia, he was at the Hastings Center, a research institute devoted to the study of ethical issues in medicine and the life science. He is an elected member of the Institute of Medicine (IOM) of the National Academy of Sciences. His published work includes articles in the leading journals in public health and medicine as well as a number of books including AIDS Doctors: Voices from the Epidemic (2000, written with Gerald Oppenheimer) and Mortal Secrets: Truth and Lies in the Age of AIDS (2003, written with Robert Klitzman).

Academic Appointments

  • Professor Emeritus of Sociomedical Sciences
  • Special Lecturer in Sociomedical Sciences

Credentials & Experience

Education & Training

  • PhD, 1976 University of Chicago

Committees, Societies, Councils

Member, Institute of Medicine

Fellow, The Hastings Center

Editorial Boards

Associate Editor, Public Health Ethics

Editorial Board, Milbank Quarterly

Honors & Awards

New York Times, Notable Books of the Year (1989)

American Library Association, Outstanding Books (1989)

Britannica Book of the Year (1990)

Member, Institute of Medicine (2002)

Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Health Policy Investigator Award (2005)


Research Interests

  • Healthcare Policy
  • Infectious Diseases
  • Substance Use

Selected Publications

R. Bayer Stigma and the Ethics of Public Health: Not Can We But Should We? Social Science & Medicine 67 (3) 463-472 2008

R. Bayer and C. Edington HIV Testing, Human Rights, and Global AIDS Policy: Exceptionalism and Its Discontents Journal of Health Policy, Politics and Law, 34(3) 301-23 2009

R. Bayer Homosexuality and American Psychiatry: The Politics of Diagnosis Basic Books (Paperback) / Princeton University Press 1981 / 1987

R. Bayer Private Acts, Social Consequences: AIDS and the Politics of Public Health Free Press (Paperback) /Rutgers University Press 1989/1991

R. Bayer and G. Oppenheimer AIDS Doctors: Voices from the Epidemic Oxford University Press 2000

R. Klitzman and R. Bayer Mortal Secrets: Truth and Lies in the Age of AIDS Johns Hopkins University Press 2003

E. Feldman and R. Bayer Unfiltered: Conflicts Over Tobacco Policy and Public Health Harvard University Press 2004

G. Oppenheimer and R. Bayer Shattered Dreams?: An Oral History of the South African AIDS Epidemic Oxford University Press 2007

A.L. Fairchild, R. Bayer and J. Colgrove with D. Wolfe Searching Eyes: Privacy, the State, and Disease Surveillance in America California/Milbank Books 2007

R. Bayer Public Health Policy and the AIDS Epidemic: An End to HIV Exceptionalism?- New England Journal of Medicine 324 (21) 1500-1504. 1991

J. Colgrove and R. Bayer, Could It Happen Here? Vaccine Risk Controversies and the Specter of Derailment Heath Affairs 24(3) 729-739 2005