Vanessa Northington Gamble

University Professor of Medical Humanities and Professor of American Studies


Office Phone: (202) 994-0978
801 22nd Street NW Washington DC 20052

Vanessa Northington Gamble, MD, PhD is University Professor of Medical Humanities at The George Washington University. She is the first woman and African American to hold this prestigious, endowed faculty position. She is also Professor of Health Policy in the Milken Institute School of Public Health and Professor of American Studies in the Columbian College of Arts and Sciences. Dr. Gamble is Adjunct Professor of Nursing at the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing. Throughout her career she has worked to promote equity and justice in medicine and public health. A physician, scholar, and activist, Dr. Gamble is an internationally recognized expert on the history of American medicine, racial and ethnic disparities in health and health care, public health ethics, and bioethics. She is the author of several widely acclaimed publications on the history of race and racism in American medicine and bioethics. Public service has been a hallmark of her career.  She has served on many boards and chaired the committee that took the lead role in the successful campaign to obtain an apology in 1997 from President Clinton for the United States Public Health Syphilis Study at Tuskegee. She is a member of the National Academy of Medicine and National Academy of Sciences, and a Fellow of the Hastings Center. 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.

“’Outstanding Services to Negro Health’: Dr. Dorothy Boulding Ferebee and Dr. Virginia M. Alexander and Black Women Physicians’ Public Health Activism,” American Journal of Public Health, 106 (2016): 1397-1404.

“‘No Struggle, No Fight, No Court Battle’: The 1948 Desegregation of the University of Arkansas School of Medicine,” Journal of the History of Medicine and Allied Sciences 68 (2013): 377-415. 

“‘There Wasn’t a Lot of Comforts in Those Days:’ African Americans, Public Health, and the 1918 Influenza Epidemic,” Public Health Reports 125, Suppl. No. 3 (2010): 114-125.

“Under the Shadow of Tuskegee: African Americans and Health Care,” American Journal of Public Health 87 (1997): 4-9.

Making A Place for Ourselves: The Black Hospital Movement, 1920-1945 (New York: Oxford University Press, 1995). Named an Outstanding Academic Book for 1995 by Choice.

M.D., University of Pennsylvania, 1983.
Ph.D., University of Pennsylvania, 1987.