Howard Markel

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Howard Markel
Howard Markel.jpg
Born (1960-04-23) April 23, 1960 (age 54)
Detroit, Michigan, United States
Residence Ann Arbor, MI
Nationality American
Education University of Michigan (B.A.), University of Michigan Medical School (M.D.), Johns Hopkins University (Residency) The Johns Hopkins University (Ph.D.)
Occupation Author, editor, pediatrician, professor, medical historian

Howard Markel (born April 23, 1960) is an American physician, author, editor, professor, and medical historian. Markel is the George E. Wantz Distinguished Professor of the History of Medicine at the University of Michigan and director of the University of Michigan's Center for the History of Medicine.[1] He is also professor of Psychiatry, Health Management and Policy, History, and Pediatrics and Communicable Diseases.[2][3] Markel writes extensively on major topics and figures in the history of medicine and public health and is editor-in-chief of the health care policy journal The Milbank Quarterly.[4]

Early life and education[edit]

Markel was born in Detroit and grew up in Oak Park and Southfield, Michigan. He earned his bachelor's degree in English from the University of Michigan in 1982 and his medical degree from the University of Michigan in 1986, before completing his internship, residency, and fellowship in pediatrics at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine and the Johns Hopkins Hospital in 1993. Markel then joined the University of Michigan faculty as a professor of pediatrics and the history of medicine. A medical historian by training, Markel earned his Ph.D. in the History of Medicine, Science and Technology from Johns Hopkins in 1994.[5]


Markel's writing focuses on major topics and figures in the history of medicine. A consistent concern of his has been the historical relationship between epidemics, social stigma and immigration, and public health. His first solo-authored book, Quarantine!: East European Jewish Immigrants and the New York City Epidemics of 1892, focuses on the complex interaction between anti-immigrant prejudices in the United States and the ways such prejudices were mobilized during the typhus and cholera outbreaks of 1892 in New York City.[6][7] The resulting quarantines, enacted largely on the basis of class and ethnicity, prompted Congress to pass a National Quarantine Act codifying standards for medically investigating immigrants and foreign cargo.[8] Markel's argument about the tension between isolating disease and the potential for social scapegoating[9] acquired new urgency during the 2014 Ebola epidemic. "Ebola is jerking us back to the 19th century," he stated in The New York Times.[10]

When Germs Travel: Six Major Epidemics That Have Invaded America Since 1900 and the Fears They Have Unleashed expands the scope of Quarantine! by chronicling American epidemics during the two "great waves of immigration" that helped shape the 20th century. Markel argues that the association of immigrants with infectious disease is a key component of that history,[11] and that their stigmatization during 20th century American epidemics "reveal[s] much about our predispositions for dealing with the perpetual threat of contagious disease."[12] Health Affairs called When Germs Travel "a clarion call for the public (and the government) to recognize both the importance and the precariousness of the public health as we enter the twenty-first century."[13]

As with Quarantine, Markel writes that When Germs Travel developed out of his work as an AIDS physician during the late 1980s and early 1990s:

Every Monday and Wednesday evening for three years, I saw dozens of patients, mostly young gay men and intravenous drug users, with HIV or AIDS. I became especially intrigued by a question that kept popping up during our conversations: ‘Dr. Markel, do you think I will be quarantined because I have AIDS?’ Doctors rarely hear the same question from so many different patients, but when they do they listen carefully.[14]

Markel's most recent book, An Anatomy of Addiction: Sigmund Freud, William Halsted, and the Miracle Drug Cocaine, explores the lives and careers of Freud and Halsted through their relationship to cocaine. A front page New York Times book review described An Anatomy of Addiction as "a tour de force of scientific and social history, one that helps illuminate a unique period in the long story of medical discovery."[15] Having treated patients suffering from various forms of substance abuse, Markel thought that sharing Freud and Halsted's struggles (both personal and scientific) with cocaine would raise awareness of the perniciousness of addiction while illuminating an important chapter in medical history. Discussing his work with Science Friday's Ira Flatow, Markel said that "they were so compelling, and I thought using their lives and their struggles I could really put a human face on this terrible disease."[16] PBS Newshour and CSPAN also broadcast discussions of his work.[17] A New York Times Best Seller, An Anatomy of Addiction was critically acclaimed in Nature,[18] NPR, The Wall Street Journal,[19] The Los Angeles Times,[20],[21] The New Yorker, The San Francisco Chronicle,[22] Time,[23] and The Baltimore Sun.[24]

Markel has also contributed over 350 articles to scholarly publications and popular periodicals, from The New England Journal of Medicine, the American Journal of Public Health,[25] and The Lancet [26] to The New York Times,[27][28][29][30] PBS Newshour's The Rundown,[31][32][33][34][35] Harper's Magazine,[36] The Atlantic,[37] CNN,[38] The New Republic,[39][40] and the International Herald Tribune.[41] He has been a Contributing Writer to The Journal of the American Medical Association since 2007.[42] Markel was a regular guest on National Public Radio’s Science Friday from 2010 to 2012,[43] and regularly shares his knowledge of the history of medicine and public health on programs such as NPR’s All Things Considered,[44] Morning Edition, Talk of the Nation,[45] Here and Now, Tell Me More,[46] American Public Media's Marketplace, The Leonard Lopate Show,[47] ABC’s Good Morning America and World News, NBC’s Nightly News, Nova,[48] Frontline, NewsHour,[17] BBC’s The World, CNN,[49] MSNBC, C-SPAN,[50] and History.

In 2013 Markel became the editor-in-chief of The Milbank Quarterly, a peer-reviewed healthcare journal specializing in population health and health policy.

Pandemic Preparedness Policy[edit]


Markel advises various U.S. agencies studying past and planning for potential future influenza pandemics. From 2005 to 2006, Markel served as a historical consultant on pandemic influenza preparedness planning for the United States Department of Defense. Since 2006 he has worked for the CDC as a historical consultant on issues related to national and international pandemic preparedness.[51] He and a team of researchers at the Center for the History of Medicine collaborated with the CDC to produce a digital encyclopedia of the 1918 influenza pandemic, of which he is editor-in-chief, the largest available digital collection of materials pertaining to the deadliest pandemic of the 20th century.[52] The collaboration between Markel and the CDC expanded to analyze and document the use of non-pharmaceutical interventions during the 2009 H1N1 flu pandemic. Markel also advised the federal government on its real-time pandemic influenza response to the 2009 H1N1 influenza pandemic alongside other experts on the CDC Director’s “Novel A/H1N1 Influenza Team B.”


During the 2014 Ebola epidemic Markel contributed his expertise on the history of epidemics and quarantines to public forums such as NPR's All Things Considered,[53] the BBC World Service,[54] CNN/Sanjay Gupta MD,[55] PBS NewsHour,[56] and The New Yorker.[57] He reminded readers in The New York Times that "we are a global village. Germs have always traveled. The problem now is they can travel with the speed of a jet plane."[58] Markel additionally sought to enhance public understanding of the Ebola outbreak through op-eds for Reuters Opinion[59] and the New Republic.[60]

Honors and awards[edit]

Markel’s historical, medical, and health policy research has been recognized with numerous grants, honors and awards. In 1996 he was a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Generalist Physician Faculty Scholar for his work on "American Doctors and Foreign Patients; Health Care Delivery for Russian, Jewish, Mexican, and Chinese Immigrants to the United States between 1880 and 1995," while his work entitled "U.S. Immigration Policy and the Public Health, 1880-1995" received the National Institutes of Health's James A. Shannon Director’s Award for 1997-1999.[61] He was named a Centennial Historian of the City of New York in 1998 for his role in advising and planning the New York City 100: Greater New York Centennial Celebration.[62] Markel was also an inaugural fellow at the New York Public Library's Center for Scholars and Writers from 1999-2000.[63][64]

In 2003 Markel's Quarantine!––by that time established as "a classic in the history of public health"––was recognized by the American Public Health Association with The Arthur J. Viseltear Prize "for the outstanding book in the History of Public Health in America."[65] In 2007, he received the Theodore Woodward Award from the American Clinical and Climatological Association for his presentation on "Non-Pharmaceutical Interventions Employed By Major American Cities During the 1918-19 Influenza Pandemic"[66] and a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Investigator Award in Health Policy, also awarded on the basis of Markel's work on the 1918-1919 pandemic.[67]

In 2008, in recognition of contributions made throughout his career to the fields of medicine and public health, Markel was elected to the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies.[68] 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.[69]

Selected bibliography[edit]

  • The H.L. Mencken Baby Book, 1990
  • The Portable Pediatrician, 1992; 2000
  • The Practical Pediatrician: The A to Z Guide to Your Child's Health, Behavior, and Safety, 1996
  • Quarantine! East European Jewish Immigrants and the New York City Epidemics of 1892, 1997; 1999
  • When Germs Travel: Six Major Epidemics That Have Invaded America Since 1900 and the Fears They Have Unleashed, 2004; 2005
  • An Anatomy of Addiction: Sigmund Freud, William Halsted, and the Miracle Drug Cocaine, 2011; 2012


  1. ^ "Center for the History of Medicine – Faculty & Staff". 
  2. ^ "University of Michigan Department of History – People". 
  3. ^ "University of Michigan School of Public Health – Faculty". 
  4. ^ "The Milbank Quarterly: A Multidisciplinary Journal of Population Health and Health Policy". 
  5. ^ "LDI Seminar Series". The University of Pennsylvania. February 28, 2008. 
  6. ^ Markel 2004, p.68
  7. ^ "Book Reviews: Quarantine!: East European Jewish Immigrants and the New York City Epidemics of 1892". The New England Journal of Medicine. April 23, 1988. 
  8. ^ "A Short History of Quarantine". PBS. October 12, 2004. 
  9. ^ Markel 1997, p. 12.
  10. ^ "Life in Quarantine for Ebola Exposure: 21 Days of Fear and Loathing". The New York Times. October 18, 2014. 
  11. ^ "In brief". The Lancet. September 11, 2004. 
  12. ^ Markel 2004, p. 6, p. 210
  13. ^ "Everyone's Problem". Health Affairs. November–December 2004. 
  14. ^ Markel 2004, p. 6
  15. ^ "Sigmund Freud's Cocaine Years". The New York Times. July 21, 2011. 
  16. ^ "A Tale Of Two Addicts: Freud, Halsted And Cocaine". NPR – Talk of the Nation. November 25, 2011. 
  17. ^ a b "Cocaine: How 'Miracle Drug' Nearly Destroyed Sigmund Freud, William Halsted". PBS Newshour. October 17, 2011. 
  18. ^ "Psychology: Giants on coke". Nature. August 25, 2011. 
  19. ^ "A Miracle Drug's Dark Side". The Wall Street Journal. July 23, 2011. 
  20. ^ "Book Review: 'An Anatomy of Addiction' by Howard Markel". The Los Angeles Times. August 21, 2011. 
  21. ^ "'An Anatomy of Addiction':Sigmund Freud, cokehead". July 17, 2011. 
  22. ^ "'An Anatomy of Addiction,' by Howard Markel". July 17, 2011. 
  23. ^ "'An Anatomy of Addiction': When Two Brilliant Minds Met a 'Miracle Drug'". Time Magazine. August 5, 2011. 
  24. ^ "Sigmund Freud, William Halsted and cocaine addiction. Howard Markel's 'An Anatomy of Addiction' casts the two medical giants as intellectual trailblazers––and cokeheads". The Baltimore Sun. July 21, 2011. 
  25. ^ "When it Rains it Pours": Endemic Goiter, Iodized Salt, and David Murray Cowie, MD". American Journal of Public Health. February 1987. 
  26. ^ "Charles Dickens' work to help establish Great Ormond Street Hospital, London". The Lancet. August 21, 1999. 
  27. ^ "Baby Not Crawling? Reason Seems to Be Less Tummy Time". The New York Times. April 29, 2001. 
  28. ^ "The D.S.M. Gets Addiction Right". The New York Times. January 9, 2014. 
  29. ^ "Burning Money". The New York Times. August 22, 2005. 
  30. ^ "Don't Censor Influenza Research". The New York Times. February 1, 2012. 
  31. ^ "'The Big Book' that gave alcoholics hope in 12 steps turns 75". PBS Newshour's The Rundown. April 10, 2014. 
  32. ^ "Typhoid Mary's life sentence in quarantine". PBS Newshour's The Rundown. March 27, 2014. 
  33. ^ "The Day Polio Began Losing Its Grip on America". PBS Newshour's The Rundown. April 12, 2013. 
  34. ^ "How a Doctor Discovered U.S. Walls Were Poisonous". PBS Newshour's The Rundown. March 29, 2013. 
  35. ^ "The Day Doctors Began to Conquer Smallpox". PBS Newshour's The Rundown. May 14, 2013. 
  36. ^ "Germ culture: New armies in the never-ending war". Harper's Magazine. March 2002. 
  37. ^ "The Heart of the Matter: Is Dick Cheney physically a good risk as Vice President? Seven cardiologists weigh in". The Atlantic. June 1, 2004. 
  38. ^ "Sigmund Freud's cocaine problem". CNN. July 22, 2011. 
  39. ^ "A Deadly Virus Just Arrived in the U.S.: Here's what you need to know about it". New Republic. May 4, 2014. 
  40. ^ "The Very Deadliest Habit". New Republic. March 29, 2012. 
  41. ^ "How Two Rights Can Make a Wrong". International Herald Tribune. February 25, 2007. 
  42. ^ "U-M's Howard Markel now a JAMA Contributing Writer". University of Michigan Health System, Department of Public Relations and Marketing Communications. May 14, 2007. 
  43. ^ "Science Diction: The Origin Of 'Evolution'". NPR, Science Friday. August 13, 2010. 
  44. ^ "Cadaver Exhibits Are Part Science, Part Sideshow". NPR, All Things Considered. August 10, 2006. 
  45. ^ "How Have We Handled Swine Flu?". NPR, Talk of the Nation. May 12, 2009. 
  46. ^ "Study: Most Americans Skeptical Of H1N1 Vaccine". NPR, Tell Me More. November 5, 2009. 
  47. ^ "Howard Markel and Amanda Smith discuss Addiction". wNYC, Science Friday. February 1, 2012. 
  48. ^ "Preparing for the Next Flu Pandemic". PBS Nov. May 14, 2013. 
  49. ^ "Cocaine: The evolution of the once 'wonder' drug". CNN. July 22, 2011. 
  50. ^ "Book Discussion on An Anatomy of Addiction". C-SPAN. October 17, 2011. 
  51. ^
  52. ^ Influenza Encyclopedia: The American Influenza Epidemic of 1918-1919
  53. ^ "A History of Quarantine". NPR. 
  54. ^ "Ebola Fears Grow After US Death". BBC. 
  55. ^ "CNN/Sanjay Gupta MD". 
  56. ^ "Before Ebola, Ellis Island's terrifying medical inspections". PBS Newshour. 
  57. ^ "The Talk of the Town: Midterm Anxieties". The New Yorker. 
  58. ^ "Newly Vigilant, U.S. Will Screen Fliers for Ebola". The New York Times. October 8, 2014. 
  59. ^ "How the Ebola quarantine became a 'states' rights' issue". Reuters. 
  60. ^ "What a Past Epidemic Teaches Us About Ebola". New Republic. 
  61. ^ "News and Events". The Johns Hopkins University Press Bulletin of the History of Medicine. 2007. 
  62. ^ "Centennial Historians". 
  63. ^ "Past Fellows 1999-2013". 
  64. ^ "Scholars and Writers Conclude Year-Long Fellowships at The New York Public Library with Free Public Presentations". New York Public Library. 
  65. ^ "The 131st Annual Meeting of APHA". November 17, 2003. 
  66. ^ "Theodore E. Woodward Award Non-Pharmaceutical Interventions Employed By Major American Cities During the 1918-1919 Influenza Pandemic". The National Center for Biotechnology Information. 
  67. ^ "History Informing Public Health Preparedness in the 21st Century: A Qualitative Study of Non-Pharmaceutical Interventions and Community Experiences during the 1918-1919 Influenza Pandemic". Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. 
  68. ^ "Two Medical School faculty elected to Institute of Medicine". U-M Health System. October 13, 2008. 
  69. ^ "Howard Markel - Institute of Medicine". 2013-09-19. Retrieved 2014-05-26. 

External links[edit]