William C Summers MD, PhD

Professor of Therapeutic Radiology, in the History of Medicine and of Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry; Lecturer in History

Biographical Info

Professor William C. Summers' interests range from molecular biology to Chinese culture and history. A well-published researcher in virology and in the history of science and medicine, Professor Summers earned both his M.D. and his Ph.D. in molecular biology from the University of Wisconsin in 1967. He joined the Yale Faculty in 1968. Professor Summers has held fellowships and visiting faculty positions at major research universities in the United States, Sweden, Great Britain, Singapore, and China; he serves on numerous panels and editorial boards.

He first travelled to the People's Republic of China in 1980 with the Yale delegation that re-established the medical exchange program with the Hunan Medical College. Professor Summers has done extensive research on Chinese public health and medicine, publishing articles on historic parallels between Chinese and Western medical development, Chinese government medical policy, and acupuncture.

At Yale, students enjoy Professor Summers' Freshman Seminar, "Epidemics in Global Perspective," which deals with historical issues of policy and epidemic disease. He also teaches a seminar on the history of Chinese science in which he deals with Chinese concepts of the natural world, Asian technological development, and East-West scientific interactions. His outgoing and accessible personality makes him a favorite among students, and he was awared the 2006 Harwood F. Byrnes/Richard B. Sewall Prize for teaching in Yale College

International Activity

  • China(1980)
    Research and teaching on History of Medicine and Science in China.

Education & Training

University of Wisconsin-Madison (1961)
University of Wisconsin-Madison (1963)
University of Wisconsin (1967)
University of Wisconsin (1967)
Postdoctoral Fellow
Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Biology (1967 - 1968)

Honors & Recognition

  • Harwood F. Byrnes/Richard B. Sewall Prize for teaching in Yale College
    Yale College (2006)
  • PSP Award of Assn. of American Publishers (Honorable Mention, for Felix d’Herelle and the Origins of Molecular Biology, Yale Univ. Press)
    Assn of American Publishers (2000)

Professional Service

  • Committee chairs, American Association for History of Medicine (1996 - 2006)
  • Chair, member, American Society for Microbiology (1994 - 2009)
  • Member and Chair, NIH (1976 - 2009)

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