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Michael Yudell, PhD, MPH

Michael Yudell

Professor, Community Health and Prevention
Community Health and Prevention
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BA, History and Soviet Studies, Tufts University; MPhil, U.S. History, City University of New York; MPH, PhD, Sociomedical Sciences, Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health


Michael Yudell, Professor in the Department of Community Health and Prevention, is an awarding-winning historian and ethicist of public health whose work focuses on the history and ethics of genomics, the history of the race concept, and the history and ethics of autism research. Yudell also directs the Program in Public Health Ethics and History at the Dornsife School of Public Health. Yudell received his PhD and MPH from the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University and his BA in History and Soviet and Eastern European Studies from Tufts University.

He is the author of Race Unmasked: Biology and Race in the 20th Century (Columbia University Press, 2014, winner of the 2016 Arthur J. Viseltear Award from the American Public Health Association. The book examines the way biologists, especially geneticists, shaped the race concept during the 20th century from eugenics to the sequencing of the human genome. Additionally, the work has important implications for bioethics and public health ethics given the role of race in patient care and in our understanding of the health of populations.

Yudell is also the author, with Rob DeSalle, of Welcome to the Genome: A User's Guide to the Genetic Past, Present, and Future (John Wiley and Sons, 2004 and revised 2nd edition, forthcoming) and the edited collection The Genomic Revolution: Unveiling the Unity of Life (Joseph Henry Press of the National Academy of Science, 2002). Along with Dr. Samuel K. Roberts, Yudell edits the Columbia University Press Series in Race, Inequality, and Health.

He also conducts research on autism and ethics, including currently a National Science Foundation project examining the ethics of community-engaged autism research. He is writing A Way of Being Human, a history of autism spectrum disorders (Columbia University Press).

Yudell is Chair of the Pennsylvania Secretary of Health's Newborn Screening and Follow-up Technical Advisory Board.

Finally, Yudell appears monthly with the improv group Study Hall at the Philadelphia Improv Theater.

Research Interests

  • Autism spectrum disorders
  • Bioethics
  • Ethics
  • Genomics
  • Health disparities
  • History of Public Health
  • Inequality and Public Health


Yudell, M.  Race Unmasked: A 20th Century Struggle to Define Human Difference (Forthcoming, Columbia University Press).

DeSalle, R. and M. Yudell. Welcome to the Genomes. John Wiley & Sons, (Revised Second Edition Forthcoming, 2014).

Rossi, J., Newschaffer, C. and M. Yudell. “Autism Spectrum Disorders, Risk Communication and the Problem of Inadvertent Harm,” Kennedy Institute of Ethics Journal (forthcoming, June 2013)

Yudell, M.,Tabor, H., Dawson, G. and C. Newschaffer. “Priorities for Autism Risk Disorders Risk Communication and Ethics.” Autism. (August, 23, 2012, EPub ahead of print).

Rossi, J. and Yudell, M. “The Use of Persuasion in Public Health Communication: An Ethical Critique,” Public Health Ethics. 5(2012) pp.192-205.

Rossi, J. and Yudell, M. “Value-Ladenness and Rationality in Health Communication,” American Journal of Bioethics. 12(February 2012) pp.20-22.

Yudell, M. “Science and Race,” in Race and Genetics, Sheldon Krimsky, ed. (Columbia University Press, 2011).

Yudell, M. “Review: Segregation’s Science: Eugenics and Society in Virginia, by Gregory Dorr,” Journal of the History of Biology. 43(May 2010) pp.419-422.

Yudell, M. and R. DeSalle. Welcome to the Genome: A User’s Guide to the Genetic Past, Present and Future. John Wiley & Sons (September, 2004).

Yudell, M. and R. DeSalle, eds. The Genomic Revolution: Unveiling the Unity of Life, National Academy/Joseph Henry Press, 2002.

Yudell, M. “Public Health Ethics: An Update on an Emerging Field” in the Penn Center Guide to Bioethics, Vardit Ravitsky, Autumn Fiester, and Arthur Caplan, eds. (Springer, 2009), pp.559-569.