Rosner, David K.

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

Office Hours

Spring 2021: By appointment only.


David Rosner is Professor of History and Ronald H. Lauterstein Professor of Sociomedical Sciences at Columbia University. He also co-directs the Center for the History and Ethics of Public Health, a joint undertaking of Columbia's Mailman School of Public Health and the Department of History. An elected member of the National Academy of Medicine, he received his BA from CCNY, his MPH from the University of Massachusetts and his PhD from Harvard in the History of Science. Until moving to Columbia in 1998, he was University Distinguished Professor of History at the City University of New York. 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 John P. McGovern Science and Society Prize by Sigma Xi, The Scientific Research Society, Distinguished Scholar's Prize from the City University, the Viseltear Prize for Outstanding Work in the History of Public Health from the APHA and the Distinguished Alumnus Award from the University of Massachusetts. He has also been honored at the Awards Dinner of the New York Committee on Occupational Safety and Health and he and Gerald Markowitz have been awarded the Upton Sinclair Memorial Lectureship For Outstanding Occupational Health, Safety, and Environmental Journalism" by the American Industrial Hygiene Association. He recently was award the prize for “Outstanding Scholarship on the History of Work and Health,” by the International Commission on Occupational Health, Scientific Committee on the History of Prevention of Occupational and Environmental Disease. He gave the Garrison Lecture to the American Association for the history of Medicine and is a Fellow of the New York Academy of History and history editor for Public Health Reports.

He is author and editor of eleven books including A Once Charitable Enterprise (Cambridge University Press, 1982, 2004; Princeton University Press, 1987), Hives of Sickness: Epidemics and Public Health in New York City (Rutgers University Press, 1995), and Health Care in America: Essays in Social History (with Susan Reverby). In addition, he has co-authored and edited with Gerald Markowitz numerous books and articles, including Deadly Dust: Silicosis and the Politics of Occupational Disease in Twentieth Century America, (Princeton University Press, 1991; 1994; University of Michigan, 2005), Children, Race, and Power: Kenneth and Mamie Clarks' Northside Center, (University Press of Virginia, 1996; Routledge Press, 2001); Dying for Work, (Indiana University Press, 1987) and Slaves of the Depression: Workers' Letters About Life on the Job, (Cornell University Press, 1987). He and Gerald Markowitz have authored Deceit and Denial: The Deadly Politics of Industrial Pollution (University of California Press/Milbank, 2002) and Are We Ready? Public Health Since 9/11 (University of California Press/Milbank, 2006). He edited The Contested Boundaries of Public Health (with James Colgrove and Gerald Markowitz) which appeared from Rutgers University Press in 2008. His newest book, titled Lead Wars: The Politics of Science and the Fate of America’s Children (University of California Press/Milbank Fund, 2013), details the recent conflicts over studies of children placed in homes with low level lead exposure and the issues it raises for the history of science and public health about what is risk and what we consider a danger in modern America.


"A Short History of Occupational Safety and Health in the United States," (with G. Markowitz), Public Health Then and Now,  (Published online ahead of print, March 19, 2020, e1-e7.

"Tilting at Windmills: Global Warming and Global Warnings," Millbank Quarterly, 98 (2020), 22-25.

"Nondetected": The Politics of Measurement of Asbestos in Talc, 1971-1976," American Journal of Public Health, 109 (July 2019).

"Climate Denial and a (Hopeful) Lesson From History," Milbank Quarterly, 96 (2018), 430-433.

“Ain’t Necessarily So!”: The Brake Industry’s Impact on Asbestos Regulation in the 1970s,” American Journal of Public Health, (Published online ahead of print, July 20, 2017, e1-e5; 107 (September, 2017), 1395-1399.

“’Unleashed on an Unsuspecting World’: The Asbestos Information Association and Its Role in Perpetuating a National Epidemic”  (with G. Markowitz), American Journal of Public Health, 106 (May 2016).

“Educate the Individual . . .to a Sane Appreciation of the Risk”: A History of Industry’s Responsibility to Warn of Job Dangers Before the Occupational Safety and Health Administration,” American Journal of Public Health, 106 (January 2016), 28-35.

“Building the World that Kills Us: the Politics of Lead, Science and Polluted Homes, 1970 to 2000” (with G. Markowitz), Journal of Urban History, (January 2016).

“Courting Disaster: Environmental Justice and the US Court System,” Milbank Quarterly, 93 (2015), pp. 471-474.

“From Silicosis To Silica Hazards: An Experiment In Medicine, History, And The Social Sciences" (with Paul-Andre Rosental and Paul Blanc), American Journal Of Industrial Medicine (2015).

“Criteria for Action in Population Health: The Hill Criteria a Half Century Later,” Milbank Quarterly, 93 (June, 2015), 259-262.

“Blowing the Lid off Mountaintops,” Milbank Quarterly, 92 (December 2014), 648-651.

“Swimming Upstream: Probing the Problem of Pollution,” Milbank Quarterly, 93 (March, 2015), pp.8-11.

“Imagination and Public Health: The End of Lead Poisoning in California?” Milbank Quarterly, 92 (September, 2014), 430-433.