The University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health invites applications and nominations for the position of chair of the Department of Medical History and Bioethics.

The opportunity

Founded in 1950, the Department of Medical History and Bioethics at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health has a longstanding tradition of excellence in its research and educational programs. A key feature of the department is its institutional setting as a humanities and social science unit in a top-tier research university and the nation’s first School of Medicine and Public Health.

The department’s 13 faculty engage in research, teaching, and service in the history of medicine and public health, clinical and research ethics, and public health ethics. Department faculty are leaders in their research fields and outstanding teachers of medical students, graduate students, and undergraduates. They also play essential roles in their service to the university, UW Hospital and Clinics, their fields, the state of Wisconsin, and beyond.

Many faculty hold joint appointments in academic units across campus focused on history, surgery, law, philosophy, and engineering, ensuring a breadth and depth of collaboration that enriches the research and educational experiences in the department.

The department’s research spans both medical history and bioethics to include the history and ethics of science, technology, and pharmacy, as well as medical sociology, population health, race and medicine, stem cell research, reproductive medicine, medical education, health disparities, agricultural and medical biotechnologies, and more.

Educational programs in the department serve all learners at the university. The department is a key partner in an undergraduate certificate and collaborates in a joint graduate program with the Department of History. There are also doctoral minors and opportunities for health professions students to pursue a master’s degree or concentration. The department is dedicated to educating the next generation of medical history and bioethics scholars, as well as health care professionals and biomedical researchers whose work is enriched by an understanding of these fields.

The chair will be an innovative leader in the health humanities with a record of excellence in the history of medicine and health, bioethics, or social medicine. They will possess outstanding leadership qualities and a commitment to diversity, equity, inclusion, and the professional development of faculty and staff.

The successful candidate must have a profound commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion, experience in budgeting and resource allocation through an equity lens, and knowledge of how fiscal initiatives can drive operational, institutional, and cultural change. They will be charged with advancing a unified, school-wide strategic framework that ensures the financial success of the school’s pillars of education, research, and service, in alignment with the school’s values.

Organization overview


“For me, the Wisconsin Idea is the clear vision for what a public university is and should be. I want to celebrate it as a national and even global model for why public universities matter. It’s my goal to keep our teaching, research, and outreach missions strong, to support our students, and to make the university a more diverse and inclusive place to live, learn, and work.” — Jennifer L. Mnookin, Chancellor

Aerial view of a hospital
The medical campus is nestled into the west end of campus, near the shores of Lake Mendota.

Since 1848, this campus has been a catalyst for the extraordinary. As a public land-grant university and one of the most prolific research institutions in the world, UW–Madison is home to those who are driven by a desire to both explore new worlds and to apply new ideas to real-world problems.

With a total annual budget of over $3.6 billion, including more than $1.3 billion in annual research expenditures, UW–Madison has been in the top 10 in national research spending every year since 1972. The campus is home to more than 24,000 faculty and staff and 47,000 undergraduate, graduate, and professional degree students. Members of the student body represent all 50 states and 112 countries. The university was ranked the number one public university and fourth overall in Washington Monthly’s 2021 College Guide and Rankings and is ranked 10th among public institutions in U.S. News & World Report’s 2022-23 rankings of best colleges.

The Wisconsin Idea — the principle that the university should improve people’s lives beyond the classroom — has been guiding the efforts of UW–Madison Badgers for more than a century. The university has been dedicated to studying poverty and social inequity for 50 years, is ranked No. 1 among large schools for producing Peace Corps volunteers, and boasts 20 Nobel Prize winners among its faculty and alumni.

School of Medicine and Public Health

The University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health (SMPH) is recognized as an international, national, and statewide leader in education, research, and service. Founded in 1907, it transformed into the nation’s first School of Medicine and Public Health in 2005 to integrate the principles and power of interwoven medical and public health approaches in all of its missions.

Powered by more than 5,500 employees, including over 2,000 faculty, the school’s engagement spans the entire state of Wisconsin and includes a deep commitment to improvement of the health of the population. This commitment manifests itself in innovative models that serve as paradigms for the rest of the country.

Members of the school rapidly translate discovery into application and continually foster synergies between clinical care, education, and research. Consistently ranked among the nation’s top medical schools, SMPH has established high-performance academic programs that are intentionally distributed across the entire spectrum of academic medicine. Its faculty members hold appointments in 27 departments—17 in the clinical sciences and 10 in the basic sciences. The faculty is composed of some of the nation’s leading researchers, educators, and clinicians. This includes several National Medal of Science recipients and National Academy of Science honorees.

Mission and values

UW SMPH strives to carry out its mission of advancing health and health equity through remarkable service to patients and communities, outstanding education, and innovative research. It upholds the values of integrity and accountability, compassion, diversity, equity and inclusivity, and excellence. The school’s Shared Guidelines for Professional Conduct help the SMPH community embody these values in their daily activities.

Fostering a diverse and inclusive community is important both as an end in itself and also as a valuable driver of eliminating health disparities. The school strives to be comprised of a diverse, inclusive academic community committed to excellence and equity in health; wellness through teaching and learning, clinical service, and advocacy; and research in all forms of biological science, population health science, and health care.

SMPH is dedicated to creating an inclusive, collaborative, respectful, and welcoming environment in which all faculty, students, and staff will thrive. This effort is referred to as Building Community, and includes a call to action for every SMPH member to examine not only our intent, but our impact—“Every Person. Every Action. Every Time.”

Department of Medical History and Bioethics

The Department of Medical History and Bioethics dates to 1950, when the then-named University of Wisconsin Medical School created a Department of the History of Medicine, the second department of its kind in the country. A program focused on medical ethics was founded in 1973 — the oldest within a medical school — and has been an integral part of the department ever since, showcased in its addition to the name of the department in 2002.

The department is housed in the Medical Sciences Center on UW–Madison’s central campus. The faculty have achieved high recognition for their excellence, including numerous named professorships, book and article awards, and teaching awards. The department currently has 13 faculty and also includes five affiliate faculty and several active emeritus faculty. They play important roles — including leadership roles — in national and international organizations.

The department’s education mission reaches learners at all stages at the university. Faculty play a key role in the Health and Humanities undergraduate certificate. The History of Science, Medicine, and Technology program, one of the largest and oldest academic programs of its kind in the United States, draws together faculty members from the Department of Medical History and Bioethics and the Department of History. Collectively, the program offers broad coverage of the field, with expertise that spans Europe, the United States, Africa, and the Caribbean; stretches from the Middle Ages to the recent past; and ranges across the physical, biological, and social sciences, including medicine and technology.

Students with doctoral training in one of the health professions may earn a Master of Arts in History of Medicine. It is also possible to earn a combined MD/PhD degree through the School of Medicine and Public Health’s Medical Scientist Training Program and the History of Science, Medicine, and Technology program. Lastly, a new Path of Distinction in Bioethics is awarded to medical students who complete requirements demonstrating significant achievement in bioethics and serves as a foundation for service and research in ethics in one’s medical career.

Faculty in the department have served as advisors to local, state, federal, and international governments and organizations on issues related to climate and environment policy, the social dimensions of infectious disease response, the allocation of scarce medical resources, and humanism in medical care. They are experts in health equity, environment and health, race and social justice, medical decision making, the sociology of laboratory science, the history of clinical medicine, the history of medical knowledge in the early-modern era, and human and animal rights.

Key achievements of the faculty and department include:

  • Currently hosting the editorship of Social Studies of Science.
  • Regular publication with top-tier presses, including the University of Chicago Press, Harvard University Press, Yale University Press, University of North Carolina Press, and Oxford University Press.
  • Frequent publication in leading journals, including Science, Nature, New England Journal of Medicine, British Medical Journal, BioSocieties, Bulletin of the History of Medicine, Social History of Medicine, Radical History Review, Isis, Osiris, American Historical Review, American Journal of Bioethics, Social Science and Medicine, JAMA Surgery, Journal of Moral Philosophy, and Hastings Center Report, as well as popular essays, opinion pieces, and podcasts in venues such as the Boston Globe, The Washington Post, HuffPost, Vox, The Hill, and Slate.
  • Book and article awards from the American Association of the History of Medicine, History of Science Society, Conference in Latin American History, Association of Caribbean History, Council of Graduate Schools, Society for French Historical Studies, and Wisconsin Library Association.
  • Grants and fellowships from the American Council of Learned Societies, British Library, National Institutes of Health, National Science Foundation, Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, Carnegie Corporation, John S. Guggenheim Foundation, Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, European Research Commission, Freiburg Institute for Advanced Studies, and Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study.
  • Faculty members have served as presidents of the American Association for the History of Medicine, History of Science Society, and International Union of the History and Philosophy of Science.
  • Key roles in the founding of the American Association of Bioethics, which has evolved into the American Society for Bioethics and Humanities.
  • Creation of the Bioethics Summer Camp, a major annual meeting of leading professionals in the field.
  • Service on President Clinton’s National Bioethics Advisory Council, Hillary Clinton’s Health Care Task Force, National Academy of Sciences Committee on Guidelines for Stem Cell Research, and National Cancer Policy Board.

Qualifications and attributes of leadership

The successful candidate will maintain the Department of Medical History and Bioethics’ premier status by advancing its mission to provide comprehensive humanistic and social scientific instruction to students, to conduct novel and meaningful research, and to offer consultation and service in social medicine as it relates to human, animal, and environmental health.

Applicants must have a PhD or equivalent degree(s); substantial background and experience in administrative leadership, research, and teaching, including training programs for the full continuum of medical history and bioethics learners; and a strong academic background that would qualify for appointment as a tenured faculty member at the University of Wisconsin–Madison.

The community

Located on an isthmus between two lakes, Madison is the capital city of the state of Wisconsin. Madison has been voted:

  • No. 1 Best Place to Live in the USA (Liveability, 2022)
  • No. 1 City for Most Successful Women Per Capita (Forbes, 2019)
  • No. 1 City for Best Work-Life Balance (SmartAsset, 2022)
  • No. 7 Best City for STEM Professionals (CEO World, 2020)
  • No. 4 Best State to Practice Medicine (WalletHub, 2022)
  • No. 2 Best City for Biking (People for Bikes, 2020)
  • No. 2 Fittest City in the U.S. (ACSM American Fitness Index, 2022)
  • No. 2 Best Cities for Millennials (, 2020)
  • No. 4 Greenest City in the US (Zippia, 2020)
  • No. 1 Best Place to Retire (Money, 2020)
  • No. 1 Best Place in the U.S. for Raising Children ( 2020)
  • No. 1 Best College Football Town in America (Sports Illustrated, 2019).

Madison’s technology economy is growing rapidly, and the region is home to the headquarters of Epic Systems, Exact Sciences, American Family Insurance, American Girl (Mattel), Sub-Zero, and Lands’ End, as well as many biotech, healthcare IT, and health systems startups.

A farmer's market
The Dane County Farmer's Market is held weekly on the Capitol Square during non-winter months.

The city of Madison and the University of Wisconsin–Madison acknowledge that they occupy ancestral Ho-Chunk land. The School of Medicine and Public Health recognizes the health inequities faced by Native communities and pledges to learn more and take action across all of its missions.

Madison is the second largest city in the state, with a city population of approximately 260,000 and regional population of over 1 million. The city is within easy driving range of Chicago and Milwaukee. Madison offers numerous unique neighborhoods and commercial areas including the Capitol Square, State Street, Willy Street, Shorewood Hills, Maple Bluff, and Hilldale. Suburbs and surrounding smaller communities include Sun Prairie, Middleton, McFarland, Verona, Cottage Grove, Waunakee, and Fitchburg.

Madison is home to one of the strongest local food scenes in the country with several James Beard Award winners, gastropubs, and farm-to-table restaurants. From April to October, the Capitol Square hosts the impressive Dane County Farmers’ Market, the largest producer-only farmers’ market in the country. The city is rich with cultural offerings such as the Overture Center for the Performing Arts, Orpheum Theatre, Concerts on the Square, Jazz at Five, UW-Madison Mead Witter School of Music and Hamel Music Center, Madison Symphony Orchestra, Madison Opera, Madison Ballet, UW–Madison Chazen Museum of Art, Madison Museum of Contemporary Art, Wisconsin Historical Museum, and Madison Children’s Museum, among others.

The city has a dedicated athletics fanbase which largely centers around the University of Wisconsin–Madison. Sports venues include Camp Randall Stadium, the Kohl Center, LaBahn Arena, Wisconsin Field House, and the Alliant Energy Center. Madison is home to Forward Madison FC, the first professional soccer team in the city, as well as the Madison Mallards, a college wood-bat summer baseball league team. Marquee endurance sports and specialty sporting events include IronMan Wisconsin and IronMan 70.3, Reebok CrossFit Games, Madison Marathon, and many national and international championship competitions.

Application process


Please send nominations to:

Maureen Durkin, PhD, DrPH, and Scott Hagen, MD, co-chairs of the Chair of the Department of Medical History and Bioethics
Search Committee
c/o Benjamin Schultz-Burkel, DMA
4299C HSLC, 750 Highland Avenue
Madison, WI, 53705-2111


To apply, please visit the UW-Madison jobs website, using the "apply now" button below. Applicants will be asked to upload a CV and personal statement/cover letter.

Diversity, equity and inclusion

The University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health has a deep and profound commitment to diversity both as an end in itself but also as a valuable means for eliminating health disparities. As such, we strongly encourage applications from candidates who foster and promote the values of a diverse, equitable, inclusive, and anti-racist workplace.  

Applications from Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) individuals, LGBTQ+ and non-binary identities, women, persons with disabilities, military service members, and veterans are strongly encouraged.


To receive full consideration, please apply by Nov. 27, 2022.


Unless confidentiality is requested in writing, information regarding applicants must be released upon request. Finalists cannot be guaranteed confidentiality. Wisconsin Caregiver Law applies. The University of Wisconsin is an equal opportunity, affirmative action employer.

Apply now