Amy Fairchild

Amy Fairchild

Amy Fairchild

Sociomedical Sciences


722 West 168th Street
New York NY 10032
Website address: Email: Twitter: CV:


Dr. Fairchild is a historian researching the broad social forces that produce disease and shape public health policy and a public health policy analyst focused on dilemmas in the ethics and politics of contemporary debates. Guided by the understanding that history and policy do not simply represent two different worlds, she fuses these frameworks of analysis, crafting a new, historically grounded way of thinking critically about problems in a professional field. Her work's central intellectual theme has been to explore the functions and limits of the State, particularly when it seeks to address health issues that touch on groups marginalized by virtue of disease, class, and race. Fairchild's book, Science at the Borders is a revisionist history uncovering the ways that the machinery of processing unskilled immigrant laborers at the nation's borders in the early 1900's helped to define inclusion into industrial citizenship, the state, and social power. Searching Eyes: Privacy, the State and Disease Surveillance in America focuses on policy challenges that arise when it becomes necessary to report the names of individuals with disease. Written with Ronald Bayer and James Colgrove, Searching Eyes sets controversies over surveillance for diseases and conditions, including tuberculosis, venereal disease, birth defects, occupational disease, cancer, vaccination status, and HIV against the backdrop of the changing social, political, and personal meanings of privacy. Dr. Fairchild teaches a History and Policy seminar and co-teaches the Department's core course. In 2003, she was the recipient of Columbia University's Presidential Award for Outstanding Teaching.



PhD, 1997, Columbia University
MPH, 1990, Columbia University
BA, 1987, University of Texas

Other Affiliations

American Public Health Association
Organization of American HIstorians

Honors & Awards

RWJ Health Policy Investigator Award, 2002-2005
Columbia University Presidential Award for Outstanding Teaching, 2003
Visiting Scholar, Institute for the Medical Humanities, University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston, Summer 2003

Areas of Expertise

Stigma, Human Rights, Ethics, History of Public Health, HIV/AIDS, Infectious Disease, Smoking (Tobacco)

Select Urban Health Activities

Tenement Museum: As needed, Dr. Fairchild has supported exhibit development at the Tenement Museum.
Save Ellis Island Foundation: Over the years Dr. Fairchild has worked with the foundation in efforts to incorporate the history of Ellis Island in the public school education. She has also supported exhibit development related to the immigrant medical experience.
Martial Arts Initiative: A third degree Black Belt, Dr. Fairchild leads the Mailman School's Marital Arts Initiative. With support from New York Goju Karate Association, she offers free classes to the Columbia community every Friday.

Select Global Activities

Co-Director, WHO Collaborating Center for Bioethics: With Dr. Ronald Bayer at the Center for the History & Ethics of Public Health, Dr. Fairchild co-directs Columbia's WHO Collaborating Center for Bioethics, which was designated as the 6th collaborating center in 2011. The Columbia Center uniquely focuses on the historical and social context of ethical debates, emphasizing: public health ethics; challenges at the intersection of public health ethics, bioethics, and human rights, including debates over surveillance and privacy, vaccination, treatment, and isolation; the ethics of targeted versus structural interventions.
Ethics of Public Health Surveillance: As part of her work as a WHO Collaborating Center, Dr. Fairchild, along with Michael Selgelid from Monash University and Andreas Reis from WHO, an effort to develop comprehensive ethical guidelines for public health surveillance.

Select Publications

Amy L. Fairchild and Dave Johns Beyond Bioethics: Reconking with the Public Health Paradigm American Journal of Public Health 102 (8) 1447-50 2012
Fairchild AL, Bayer R, Colgrove J The myth of exceptionalism: the history of venereal disease reporting in the Twentieth Century Law, Medicine, and Ethics 31 624-637 2003
Amy L. Fairchild and Ron Bayer Unlinked Anonymous Testing for HIV in Developing Countries: A new Ethical Consensus Public Health Reports 127 (1) 115-8 2012
Amy L. Fairchild and Ron bayer HIV Surveillance and the Barrier between Public Health and Clinical Medicine: Will the Walls come Tumbling Down? New England Journal of Medicine 365 (8) 685-87 2011
Fairchild AL, Bayer R The uses and abuses of Tuskegee Science 284 919-921 1999
Fairchild AL, Bayer R Ethics and the conduct of public health surveillance Science 303 631-632 2004
Amy L. Fairchild, Ronald Bayer, and James Colgrove, with Daniel Wolfe Searching Eyes: Privacy, the State, and Disease Surveillance in America University of California Press Berkeley, CA 2007
Amy L. Fairchild and Ava Alkon Back to the Future? Diabetes, HIV, and the Boundaries of Public Health Journal of Health Policy, Politics, and Law 32 561-593 2007
Amy L. Fairchild, Lance Gable, Lawrence O. Gostin, Ronald Bayer, Patricia Sweeny, Robert Janssen Public Goods, Private Data: History, Ethics, and the Uses of Personally Identifiable Public Health Information Public Health Reports Supplement 1 7-15 2007
Fairchild AL Community and confinement: the evolving experience of isolation for leprosy in Carville, Louisiana Public Health Reports 3 362-370 2004
Fairchild AL Science at the Borders: Immigrant Medical Inspection and the Shaping of the Modern Industrial Labor Force, 1891 to 1930 Johns Hopkins MD 2003
Fairchild AL and Oppenheimer GM Public health nihilism versus pragmatism: history, politics, and the control of tuberculosis American Journal of Public Health 88 1105-1117 1998
Amy L. Fairchild, James Colgrove, Marian Moser Jones The Challenge of Mandatory Evacuation: Providing For and Deciding For Health Affairs 25 958-967 2006
Amy L. Faichild, David Rosner, James Colgrove, Ron Bayer, and Linda Fried The Exodus of Public Health: What History can tell us about its Future American Journal of Pulblic Health 100 (1) 54-63 2010
Daniel Wolfe and Amy L. Fairchild The Need for Improved Surveillance of Occupational Disease and Injury Journal of the American Medical Association 303 (10) 981-82 2010

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