David J. Rothman is Bernard Schoenberg Professor of Social Medicine at Columbia College of Physicians & Surgeons, Professor of History, Columbia University, and President of the Institute on Medicine as a Profession.

Trained in American social history at Harvard University, David Rothman first explored the history of mental hospitals, prisons, and almshouses. His 1971 book, The Discovery of the Asylum (new editions 1990 and 2003), was the co-winner of the Albert J. Beveridge Prize of the American Historical Association. Conscience and Convenience (1980), and the Willowbrook Wars (1984, new edition 2005, with Sheila M. Rothman) brought this history to the present. David Rothman joined the P&S faculty in 1983 , subsequently exploring the history of health care practices and policy. He has published: Strangers at the Bedside: A History of how Law and Bioethics Transformed Medical Decision Making (1991); Beginnings Count: The Technological Imperative in American Health Care (1997), and The Pursuit of Perfection: The Promise and Perils of Medical Enhancement (2003, with Sheila Rothman). His research on the history and ethics of human experimentation has appeared in the New England Journal of Medicine (1987), Health Affairs Quarterly (1990), Milbank Quarterly (1990), and Bulletin of the History of Medicine (2003).

David Rothman’s other scholarly and policy interests include human rights in medicine. Together with Sheila Rothman, he has explored trafficking in organs, how AIDS came to infect Romanian orphans, the ethics of research in third-world countries, and the right to health care. Their essays were brought together in Trust Is Not Enough (New York Review Book, 2006). David Rothman is now addressing professionalism in medicine. With an endowment from the Open Society Institute and George Soros, he established IMAP, dedicated to making professionalism a field and a force. His publications include: “Medical Professionalism; Focusing on the Real Issues” (NEJM, 2000); “New Federal Guidelines for Physician-Pharmaceutical Industry Relations,” (with Susan Chimonas, Health Affairs, 2005); “Marketing HPV Vaccine,” (with Sheila Rothman, JAMA, 2009). He also co-authored “From Disclosure to Transparency: The Use of Company Payment Data,” (Archives of Internal Medicine, 2010).

David Rothman co-chaired the IMAP-ABIM Foundation whose recommendations appeared in JAMA, 2006: “Health Industry Practices that Create Conflicts of Interest: A Policy Proposal for Academic Medical Centers.” He co-chaired a second IMAP task force whose recommendations also appeared in JAMA” “Professional Medical Associations and Their Relationships with Industry: A Proposal for Controlling Conflicts of Interest,” (2009). Together with David Blumenthal, he co-edited Medical Professionalism in a New Information Age (Rutgers Press, 2010).

Recent Posts by David Rothman

Bringing Patients Into Health System Change

Editor's note: For more on the attitudes of Americans toward medical care and empowering patients to be active participants in their own care, see the February issue of Health Affairs, "New Era Of Patient Engagement." The attention now devoted to defining the proper role of patients and...