Dr Howard Markel
Dr Howard Markel

Howard Markel, M.D., Ph.D. is the George E. Wantz Distinguished Professor of the History of Medicine and Director of the Center for the History of Medicine at the University of Michigan.  He is also a professor of Pediatrics, Psychiatry, Public Health Management and Policy, History, and English Literature and Language.  He was born in Detroit, Michigan on April 23, 1960 and grew up in Oak Park and Southfield, Michigan.  Educated at the University of Michigan (A.B., 1982, summa cum laude; M.D., 1986, cum laude) and the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and Hospital (Intern, Resident and Fellow in General Pediatrics, 1986-1993 and Ph.D., in the History of Medicine, Science and Technology, 1994), he joined the University of Michigan faculty in 1993.

An acclaimed social and cultural historian of medicine, public health, and epidemics, Dr. Markel is the author, co-author, or co-editor of ten books including the award winning Quarantine!  East European Jewish Immigrants and the New York City Epidemics of 1892 (Johns Hopkins University Press, 1997; paperback, Johns Hopkins University Press, 1999) and When Germs Travel: Six Major Epidemics That Have Invaded America Since 1900 and the Fears They Have Unleashed (Pantheon Books/Alfred A. Knopf, 2004; paperback Vintage/Random House, 2005).

His most recent book, An Anatomy of Addiction: Sigmund Freud, William Halsted, and the Miracle Drug Cocaine (Pantheon Books/Alfred A. Knopf, 2011) garnered wide critical praise and was a New York Times Best Seller, a San Francisco Chronicle Best Seller, an ABA IndieBound Best Seller, an Amazon Best Seller, a Barnes and Noble Best Seller, and a New York Times Book Review Editor’s Choice. 

From 2005 to 2006, Professor Markel served as a historical consultant on pandemic influenza preparedness planning for the United States Department of Defense. From 2006 to the present, he serves as the principal historical consultant on pandemic preparedness for the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.   From late April 2009 to February 2011, he served as a member of the CDC Director’s “Novel A/H1N1 Influenza Team B”, a real-time think tank of experts charged with evaluating the federal government’s influenza policies on a daily basis during and after the outbreak.   His historical work served as the evidence base for many community mitigation strategies employed by the World Health Organization, the CDC, the Mexican Ministry of Health, and numerous state, provincial and municipal health departments around the globe during the 2009 influenza pandemic.

In collaboration with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, he is Editor-in Chief of The 1918-1919 American Influenza Pandemic: A Digital Encyclopedia and Archive, (2012) which was published by the University of Michigan Center for the History of Medicine and the University of Michigan Scholarly Publications Office.  Funded by grants and contracts from the CDC, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and the National Endowment for the Humanities, the digital encyclopedia represents one of the largest collections of historical documents ever assembled on a single epidemic and is accessible on the Internet at www.influenzaarchive.org. A second edition of the “Digital Influenza Encyclopedia” is currently in press.

From 2010 to 2012, Markel was a regular contributor for National Public Radio’s Science Friday; his monthly segment, “Science Diction,” discussed the history, evolution and meaning of scientific words.  From 2007 to 2014, he was a contributing writer for The Journal of the American Medical Association. Since 2012, he has contributed a monthly column on important historical events in medicine for PBS NewsHour.com

In addition, Dr. Markel has contributed over 350 articles to scholarly publications and popular periodicals, from The New England Journal of Medicine, American Journal of Public Health, and The Lancet to The New York Times, Harper’s Magazine, The Atlantic, The Baltimore Evening Sun, The New Republic, International Herald Tribune, and The Wall Street Journal. He has appeared on numerous national radio and television news broadcasts and film documentaries about the history of medicine and public health for NPR’s All Things Considered, Morning Edition, Talk of the Nation, Science Friday, Here and Now, Tell Me More, On Point, and Market Place), ABC’s Good Morning America and World News Tonight, NBC’s Nightly News, PBS’s Nova, Frontline, and NewsHour, BBC’s The World and World Service, CNN, MSNBC’s The Cycle and All In, C-SPAN’s Book Notes, and the History Channel.

Dr. Markel’s renown as a historian of medicine might be exemplified by noting that he is, perhaps, the only person to have written a front-page article for the New York Times (with Gina Kolata on April 29, 2001), had a book reviewed on the cover of the New York Times Book Review (July 22, 2011), uttered the “Quotation of the Day” in the New York Times (October 9, 2014) and was quoted in a story on the front page of the New York Times (October 19, 2014).

During the Ebola epidemic of 2014, he was a much sought after expert on the history of epidemics and quarantines. Aside from wide press coverage, in the form of interviews, and his contributing important op-eds for the New Republic and Reuters Opinion, Professor Markel was the lead interview on NPR’s All Things Considered, BBC World Service, CNN/Sanjay Gupta MD, and PBS NewsHour. Moreover, Dr. Markel’s landmark scholarship on stigma, politics and contagion was interviewed on Page One of The New Yorker, (Talk of the Town/Comment, November 10, 2014).

Professor Markel’s work has been recognized with numerous grants, honors and awards. In 1996, he received the James A. Shannon Director’s Award of the National Institutes of Health, the Burroughs-Wellcome Trust 40th Anniversary History of Medicine Award, and the Robert Wood Johnson Generalist Faculty Scholars Award.  In 1998, he was named a Centennial Historian of the City of New York and was an inaugural fellow at the Center for Scholars and Writers of the New York Public Library from 1999-2000; in 2003 he received the Arthur Viseltear Award from the American Public Health Association. In 2007, he received the Theodore Woodward Award from the American Clinical and Climatological Association and the Robert Wood Johnson Health Investigator’s Health Policy Award.

In 2008, in recognition of his scholarly achievements, Dr. Markel was elected as a Member of the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences, which cited his influenza study as “one of the most novel and potently practical applications of medical history research ever conducted.” In 2011, he was appointed to the Institute of Medicine’s Board of Population Health and Public Health Practices and is currently Chair of its Section on Social Sciences.

In October of 2013, Dr. Markel became the Editor-in-Chief of The Milbank Quarterly, which enjoys the highest ISI Web of Knowledge impact factor score among peer-reviewed, health policy and population health journals.