Harriet A. Washington

Award-winning Medical Writer & Editor

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As a medical ethicist, Harriet Washington has a unique and courageous voice and deconstructs the politics around medical issues. In addition to giving an abundance of historically accurate information on ‘scientific racism’, she paints a powerful and disturbing portrait of medicine, race, sex, and the abuse of power by telling individual human stories. Washington also makes the case for broader political consciousness of science and technology, challenging audiences to see the world differently and challenge established paradigms in the history of medicine.

Harriet Washington was an excellent choice. She engaged students and faculty over and above her required commitment. Everyone felt like they enjoyed an intellectual experience with a noted scholar and author.

- Eastern Illinois University

About Harriet A. Washington

Harriet Washington is an award-winning medical writer and editor, and the author of the best-selling book, Medical Apartheid: The Dark History of Medical Experimentation on Black Americans from Colonial Times to the Present. In her work, she focuses mainly on bioethics; the history of medicine; African-American health issues; and the intersection of medicine, ethics, and culture.

Medical Apartheid, the first social history of medical research with African Americans, was chosen as one of Publishers’ Weekly Best Books of 2006. The book also won the National Book Critics Circle Nonfiction Award, a PEN award, 2007 Gustavus Myers Award, and Nonfiction Award of the Black Caucus of the American Library Association. It has been praised in periodicals from the Washington Post and Newsweek to Psychiatric Services, the Economist, Social History of Medicine and the Times of London and it has been excerpted in the New York Academy of Sciences’ Update. Experts have praised its scholarship, accuracy, and insights. Medical Apartheid is now the #1 best-seller in medical ethics on Amazon.

In her latest book, Infectious Madness, Washington looks at the connection between germs and mental illness, revealing that schizophrenia, obsessive-compulsive disorder, Alzheimer’s, and anorexia also may be caused by bacteria, parasites, or viruses. Weaving together cutting-edge research and case studies, Washington demonstrates how strep throat can trigger rapid-onset OCD in a formerly healthy teen and how contact with cat litter elevates the risk of schizophrenia. Infectious Madness was released in October 2015.

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  • A Conversation with Harriet A. Washington

Books and Media

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Harriet Washington for The American Scholar: Flacking for Big Pharma

6/06/2011

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