Joel D. Howell Named First Victor Vaughan Professor of the
History of Medicine
Joel D. Howell, M.D., Ph.D., was installed on November 26,
2001, as the first Victor Vaughan Professor of the History of
Medicine. Howell, a professor in the Department of Internal
Medicine in the Medical School and co-director of the U-M Robert
Wood Johnson Clinical Scholars Program, also serves as professor
of health management and policy in the School of Public Health
and as professor of history in the College of Literature, Science
and the Arts, as well as teaching in the Law School.
Gil Omenn, Joel Howell, Allen Lichter and Marc Lippman Photo:
Howell is an active clinician at the U-M, where he has been
on the faculty since 1984. In 1988, he was the first person
whose research is primarily history-focused to be elected to
the prestigious American Society of Clinical Investigation.
He is the founding director of the U-M Program in Society and
Medicine and was recently named to the U-M Society of Fellows.
Widely respected for his intellectual leadership, Howell is
frequently asked to speak and consult at national and international
venues, has written extensively on medical technology and the
history and future of human experimentation, and has held numerous
lectureships in the U.S. and abroad.
Victor Vaughan (1851-1929) served as dean of the U-M Medical
School from 1891 to 1920. He was a biochemist, hygienist, public
health authority, medical educator and administrator who was
considered one of the great figures in American medicine during
the late 19th and early 20th centuries. At Michigan, Vaughan
worked to improve the clinical, library and laboratory facilities
and to solidify the international stature of the Medical School.
He helped found the National Board of Medical Examiners and
served a term as president of the American Medical Association
from 1914-15. Perhaps the most notable feature of Vaughans
career, based on his desire to see medical knowledge used for
the good of all humankind, was his belief that effective health
care requires one to see medicine as inextricably embedded in
a specific social context. For many, Vaughans name symbolizes
the need always to recognize the social and cultural nature
of health care.
In his inaugural address, Howell said, Victor Vaughan
was willing to support people who would see health and disease
in ways that he did not and could not. I plan in the years to
come to write and teach and care for patients in ways that promote
Victor Vaughans vision of medicine as a social enterprise.
I hope to do justice to his name.