University of Rochester

EVENT: Talks Explore Disease, Society in Last Century

December 2, 2002

A historian of medicine nationally known for his research on disease and its relationship to race, health politics, and group identity will present two talks at the Medical Center on Martin Luther King Day, Monday, Jan. 20, 2003.

Keith Wailoo will discuss "Dying in the City of the Blues: Sickle Cell Anemia and the Politics of Race and Health" at 1 p.m. in the Class of 1962 Auditorium, followed at 4:30 p.m. by his talk, "From White Plague to Black Death: The Strange Career of Race and Cancer in 20th Century America," in the Helen Wood Hall Lounge. Wailoo is professor of history, jointly appointed in the Institute for Health, Health Care Policy and Aging Research, at Rutgers University.

Both talks are open to the University community. The discussion on sickle cell anemia has been integrated into the first-year curriculum for medical students and will be followed by a discussion moderated by Ted Brown, chair of the Department of History and professor of community and preventive medicine.

In Wailoo's first book, Drawing Blood: Technology and Disease Identity in Twentieth-Century America, he explored how numerous forces-including medical specialization, changing medical relations with the pharmaceutical industry and the federal government, attitudes toward particular patient groups, and the growth of bureaucracy-shaped medical ideas about blood, blood disease, and patients. The book received the 1997 Arthur Viseltear Award from the American Public Health Association.

Wailoo's second book, Dying in the City of the Blues: Sickle Cell Anemia and the Politics of Race and Health, has won several prizes, including the Lillian Smith Book Award, the Suzanne M. Glasscock Humanities Book Prize for Interdisciplinary Scholarship, and the American Political Science Association's Best Book Prize in Race, Ethnicity and Politics. Set in Memphis, the location of one of the national's first sickle cell clinics, Dying in the City of the Blues explores how recognition, treatment, understanding, and symbolism of the disease evolved in the 20th century, shaped by the politics of race, location, health care, and biomedicine.

Wailoo is the recipient of numerous awards, including the prestigious James S. McDonnell Centennial Fellowship in the History of Science and the Robert Wood Johnson Investigator Award, and grants from the National Science Foundation and the National Center for Human Genome Research.

Wailoo's talks are sponsored by the Department of Community and Preventive Medicine at the Medical Center, the School of Medicine and Dentistry's Medical Education Office, the School of Nursing, and by the Frederick Douglass Institute for African and African-American Studies and the Department of History at the College.