Core Faculty

  • Ronald Bayer, PhD

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

    Ronald Bayer, PhD, has pioneered the development of an ethics of public health. His research has focused on AIDS, tuberculosis, public health surveillance, tobacco, and e-cigarettes.  In each instance he seeks to locate ethical controversy in historical and socio-political contexts. His articles have been published in the American Journal of Public Health, Health Affairs, the New England Journal of Medicine and Science.  He has authored or co-authored 6 books and has edited or co-authored 7.
    He served as Chair of the WHO’s Network of Bioethics Collaborating Centers (2014-2016) and is an elected member of the Institute of Medicine.

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  • David Rosner, PhD, MPH

    • Ronald H. Lauterstein Professor of Sociomedical Sciences and Professor of History

    David Rosner, PhD, focuses on research at the intersection of public health and social history and the politics of occupational disease and industrial pollution. He has been actively involved in lawsuits on behalf of cities, states and communities around the nation who are trying to hold the lead industry accountable for past acts that have resulted in tremendous damage to America's children. Cases aimed at removing lead from children's environments and compensating parents and governmental agencies for the costs of care and abatement of hazards in the home environment have grown out of his academic work. His work on the history of industry understanding the harms done by their industrial toxins has been part of lawsuits on behalf of asbestos workers and silicosis victims as well.   

    Prior to joining the Columbia faculty in 1998, Dr. Rosner was University Distinguished Professor of History at the City University of New York. In 2010, he was elected to the National Academy of Sciences' National Academy of Medicine. In addition to numerous grants, he has been a Guggenheim Fellow, a recipient of a Robert Wood Johnson Investigator Award, a National Endowment for the Humanities Fellow and a Josiah Macy Fellow. He has been awarded the Distinguished Scholar's Prize from the City University and the Viseltear Prize for Outstanding Work in the History of Public Health from the APHA, among others. Dr. Rosner has also been honored by the New York Committee on Occupational Safety and Health and, with Gerald Markowitz, was presented both the Upton Sinclair Memorial Lectureship "For Outstanding Occupational Health, Safety, and Environmental Journalism" and the Rachel Carson Awards by the American Industrial Hygiene Association. Dr. Rosner is an author and co-author of 11 books on occupational disease, epidemics and public health. Lead Wars: The Politics of Science and the Fate of America's Children, (2013) and Building the Worlds that Kill Us, both with Gerald Markowitz (forthcoming 2023) are his most recent. 

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  • James Colgrove, PhD, MPH

    • Professor of Sociomedical Sciences

    James Colgrove, PhD, MPH, studies the relationship between individual rights and the collective well-being and the social, political, and legal processes through which public health policies have been mediated in American history. Dr. Colgrove is the author of Epidemic City: The Politics of Public Health in New York (Russell Sage Foundation, 2011); State of Immunity: The Politics of Vaccination in Twentieth-Century America (University of California Press, 2006); co-author, with Amy Fairchild and Ronald Bayer, of Searching Eyes: Privacy, the State, and Disease Surveillance in America (University of California Press, 2007); and co-editor, with David Rosner and Gerald Markowitz, of The Contested Boundaries of American Public Health (Rutgers University Press, 2008). Articles by Dr. Colgrove have been published in the New England Journal of Medicine, American Journal of Public Health, Science, Health Affairs, Bulletin of the History of Medicine, and the Journal of Law, Medicine, and Ethics. His research has been supported by grants from the National Library of Medicine, the Greenwall Foundation, the Russell Sage Foundation, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and the Milbank Memorial Fund.

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  • Kavita Sivaramakrishnan, PhD

    • Associate Professor of Sociomedical Sciences

    Kavita Sivaramakrishnan, PhD, is interested in historical problems, crises and inequities in global health and South Asian history and the moral and medical challenges, setting of priorities, and marginalization that are involved in securing care, trust and access to medicine and therapies by marginalized citizens, publics, and so-called 'dependent' populations. She focuses on a range of intersectional themes, actors, and arenas to explore answer these questions in the context of decolonization and globalization: the politics of epidemics, contagion and immunity with an interest in the adverse and complex health and environmental consequences of colonization and industrialization; the making of 'crises' such as aging and of networks of chronic care and life-course transitions in South Asia, with comparative perspectives from East Asia and Africa.

    Kavita is the author of two books, Old Potions, New Bottles and As the World Ages; and is collaborating with David Jones (Harvard University) on a project on heart disease and the politics of experts and expertise in India, and is the PI of an NSF- RAPID award to study the  history and politics of COVID-19 in a global city, along with Merlin Chowkwanyun (Co-PI, Columbia University). Through her association with the Robert N. Butler Aging Center she is researching a project on understanding loneliness and intergenerational support in the context of migration, seeing loneliness not simply as a health risk, but as historically, socially experienced in relationships and identities. She is working on new book projects on the politics of immunity and contagion in Asia; and on a historical project on situating "Smoke" and its health, industrial, and environmental politics.

    Dr. Sivaramakrishnan is affiliated with the History Department at Columbia University; she leads the global health and aging group at the Robert N. Butler Columbia Aging Center, serves on the Executive Committee of the South Asia Institute, the Center for Science and Society (CSS), and co-leads the global history of science cluster at CSS.

    She is the founding, Faculty Director of the Yusuf N. Hamied Faculty Fellowship Program at Columbia University, run in partnership with the Columbia Global Center in Mumbai.

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  • Merlin Chowkwanyun, PhD, MPH

    • Donald H. Gemson Assistant Professor of Sociomedical Sciences

    Merlin Chowkwanyun, PhD, MPH, work centers on the history of community health; environmental health regulation; racial inequality; and social movement/activism around health. He just finished a book examining localism and health politics in the post-WWII era called All Health Politics is Local and is working on another about political unrest at medical schools and neighborhood health activism during the 1960s and 1970s. He is also the PI (co-PI David Rosner) on a recent National Science Foundation Standard Research Grant for ToxicDocs.org, a depository of millions of pages of once-secret documents on industrial poisons.

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