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Vanessa Northington Gamble, MD, PhD is University Professor of Medical Humanities at the George Washington University.  She is the first woman and first African American to hold this prestigious, endowed faculty position. She is also Professor of Health Policy and Medicine and Professor of Medicine. In addition, she is Adjunct Professor of Nursing at the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing.


Dr. Gamble has frequently been a pioneer during her professional career. She was the first African American woman appointed, and later tenured, to the faculty of the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine where she was Associate Professor of the History of Medicine and Family Medicine. In 1996, she became Founding Director of the University of Wisconsin’s Center for the Study of Race and Ethnicity in Medicine – one of the first academic centers to address racial and ethnic inequities in health and health care. While at Madison, she developed the first class in the United States on the history of race and racism in American medicine.


Dr. Gamble has also held positions as Vice President for Community and Minority Programs at the Association of American Medical Colleges, Associate Professor and Deputy Director of the Center for Health Disparities Solutions at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, and Director of the Tuskegee University National Center for Bioethics in Research and Health Care.  She is a former health commentator of the Tavis Smiley Show on NPR. 


Throughout her career Dr. Gamble has worked to promote equity and justice in American medicine and public health.  A physician, scholar, and activist, she is an internationally recognized expert on the history of race and American medicine, racial and ethnic disparities in health and health care, and bioethics.  She is the author of several widely acclaimed publications on the history of race and racism in American medicine, including the award-winning Making a Place for Ourselves:  The Black Hospital Movement: 1920-1945.  Public service has been a hallmark of Dr. Gamble’s career.  She chaired the committee that took the lead role in the successful campaign to obtain an apology in 1997 from President Clinton for the infamous United States Public Health Syphilis Study at Tuskegee.  She has been appointed to numerous boards and committees including the National Advisory Council of the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, the Ethics Subcommittee of the Advisory Committee to the Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the National Advisory Council for Human Genome Research, Ibis Reproductive Health, National Caucus and Center on Black Aged, Inc., the Committee on Human Rights of the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine, and Hampshire College.  She has also served on several editorial boards including that of the American Journal of Public Health, Journal of Health Politics, Policy, and Law, and Milbank Quarterly.


Dr. Gamble’s many honors include membership to the National Academy of Medicine and the Alpha Omega Alpha, Honor Medical Society, and election as a Fellow of the Hastings Center. She has received the Distinguished Graduate Award from the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania and an honorary Doctor of Science degree from SUNY Upstate Medical University. In March 2022, the U.S. Senate confirmed her appointment to the National Council on the Humanities.


A proud native of West Philadelphia, Dr. Gamble received her BA from Hampshire College and her MD and PhD in the history and sociology of science from the University of Pennsylvania.

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