Our Faculty

Home » Our Faculty » David Rosner

David Rosner

Ronald H. Lauterstein Professor of Sociomedical Sciences

Professor of History, Graduate School of Arts and Sciences

David Rosner, PhD, MPH, focuses on research at the intersection of public health and social history and the politics of occupational disease and industrial pollution. He has been actively involved in lawsuits on behalf of cities, states and communities around the nation who are trying to hold the lead industry accountable for past acts that have resulted in tremendous damage to America's children. Cases aimed at removing lead from children's environments and compensating parents and governmental agencies for the costs of care and abatement of hazards in the home environment have grown out of his academic work. His work on the history of industry understanding the harms done by their industrial toxins has been part of law suits on behalf of asbestos workers and silicosis victims as well.

Prior to joining the Columbia faculty in 1998, Dr. Rosner was University Distinguished Professor of History at the City University of New York. In 2010, he was elected to the National Academy of Sciences' Institute of Medicine. 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 Distinguished Scholar's Prize from the City University and the Viseltear Prize for Outstanding Work in the History of Public Health from the APHA, among others. Dr. Rosner has also been honored by the New York Committee on Occupational Safety and Health and, with Gerald Markowitz, was awarded the Upton Sinclair Memorial Lectureship "For Outstanding Occupational Health, Safety, and Environmental Journalism by the American Industrial Hygiene Association." Dr. Rosner is an author of many books on occupational disease, epidemics and public health. Lead Wars: The Politics of Science and the Fate of America's Children, (University of California Press/Milbank Fund, 2013) details the recent conflicts at Johns Hopkins over studies of children placed in homes with low level lead exposure and what it says about public health research.
Education & Training:

    PhD, 1978, Harvard University

    MPH, 1972, University of Massachusetts

    BA, 1968, City College of New York


Mailman School Affiliations:

University Affiliations:

  • Institute for Social and Economic Research and Policy  Faculty Fellow
  • Center for the Study of Science and Religion  Advisory Board
  • Department of History  Professor

Additional Affiliations:

  • Member, Institute of Medicine
  • APHA Governing Council, 1994-1996
  • Chair, Viseltear Committee, APHA Medical Care, 1991-2000
  • Member, Sigma Xi, Honorary Science Society
  • Contributing Editor, Public Health Reports, 2002-
  • Editorial Board, Journal of Public Health Policy, 1999-
Honors and Awards:
  • RWJ Health Policy Investigator Award, 2002-2005
  • Arthur Viseltear Award, Medical Care Section, APHA, 2000
  • Guggenheim Fellow, 1987-1988
  • NEH Fellow, 1983-1984
  • Upton Sinclair Award, American Industrial Hygiene Association, 2005
  • Selected Editorial Boards

    • Editorial Board, Public Health Reports
    • Editorial Board, Journal of Public Health Policy
    • Editorial Board, University of Rochester Press series on the history of public health
New York City
    September 11th and Public Health
    Dr. Rosner has organized and written reports on September 11th and its impact on public health infrastructure for the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and Milbank Fund. The Milbank Fund published three of his special reports. His recent book, Are We Ready: Public Health since 9/11 was published by the University of California Press/Milbank in 2006.

    Author of books on NYC
    Dr. Rosner is the author of A Once Charitable Enterprise: Hospitals and Health Care in Brooklyn and New York (Cambridge University Press). Author of: Children, Race and Power, (Routledge Press) Editor of:"Hives of Sickness: Epidemics and Public Health in New York City

    Television, Radio and Movie Documentaries on New York City
    Dr. Rosner has been on numerous radio programs including All Things Considered, Tell me More, Radiolab, Morning Edition and other NPR and BBC broadcasts. He has also appeared in NOVA?s documentary The Most Dangerous Woman in the World: Typhoid Mary. ABC's "Do You Know Who You Are?"; NBCs "Dateline;" and other European newscasts. He was also interviewed for a Greater New York Hospital Association documentary on New York Hospitals. Also, his work and he were featured on Bill Moyers' PBS Special: "Trade Secrets" and an HBO special, "Blue Vinyl."

    Lectures in UK
    Dr. Rosner was a keynote speaker at an international conference on the medical humanities and ethics at the University College London in September 2004. Also, he is the Edward and Amalie Kass Lecturer University College London; also lecturer, University at Exeter

    IREX Program on Eastern Europe and EHESS Program in Paris
    Dr. Rosner was one of a number of historians invited to a two-week seminar with Hungarian historians. Also Visiting Faculty, Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales, Paris, France.
    Countries: France

    International Silicosis Project
    This is a project on the international comparison of an occupational disease, silicosis. It is headquartered in Paris, France and grew out of a lecture Rosner gave at the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales.
    Countries: France

Selected Publications:
  • Colgrove, J., Markowitz, G., and Rosner, D. (Eds.) The Contested Boundaries of American Public Health. Rutgers University Press New Brunswick, NJ 2008
  • Markowitz G, Rosner D Deceit and Denial: The Deadly Politics of Industrial Pollution University of California Press Berkeley 2002
  • David Rosner and Gerald Markowitz Are We Ready? Public Health Since 9/11 University of California Press Berkeley, California, US 2006
  • Markowitz G, Rosner D "Cater to the children": the role of the lead industry in a public health tragedy, 1900-1955 American Journal of Public Health 90 36-46 2000
  • Markowitz, G. and Rosner, D. Deceit and Denial: The Deadly Politics of Industrial Pollution. University of California Press/Milbank Memorial Fund Berkeley 2002
  • Rosner D, ed. "Hives of Sickness": Epidemics and Public Health in New York City Rutgers University Press New Brunswick 1996
  • Rosner, D., and Markowitz, G. The politics of lead toxicology and the devastating consequences for children. American Journal of Industrial Medicine 50 740-756 2007
  • Rosner D A Once Charitable Enterprise: Hospitals and Health Care in Brooklyn and New York Cambridge University Press NY 1982;2004
  • Rosner, D., and Markowitz, G. Deadly Dust: Silicosis and the On-Going Struggle to Protect Workers’ Health, new and expanded edition. University of Michigan Press Ann Arbor, MI 2006
  • Stevens, R., Rosenberg, C., and Burns, L. (Eds.) History and Health Policy in the United States: Putting the Past Back In Rutgers University Press New Brunswick: 130-152 2006

Contact Information


Mailman SPH, Dept. Sociomedical Sciences 722 west 168th street suite 934

New York, NY 10032

Website Address:

Homepage URL