A collection of over 250 medical ethics books is now available to members of the Yale School of Medicine (YSM) community, because of a generous donation that Alfred Tauber, MD, made to YSM’s Program for Biomedical Ethics (PBE). Tauber is professor of philosophy emeritus and Zoltan Kohn Professor Emeritus of Medicine at Boston University (BU). The books are located in the student lounge—shared by the MD-PhD Program and Office of Student Research—on third floor of E.S. Harkness Memorial Hall, in the midst of YSM’s Medical Education offices.
Jessica Illuzzi, MD, MS, deputy dean for education and Harold W. Jockers Professor of Medical Education, told Tauber, “we are so honored that you chose to donate this personal library to us.” YSM students, faculty, staff, and alumni “will greatly enjoy and benefit from the opportunity to learn from this tremendous resource,” Illuzzi notes.
Although one of Tauber’s sons graduated from YSM 25 years ago, Tauber made the decision to donate the books to the school’s PBE “on practicalities.” He explains he contacted several institutions and PBE Director and Professor of Pediatrics Mark Mercurio, MD, MA, showed the greatest interest. YSM’s program “proved the best option,” Tauber says, based on the needs and the likelihood that the books would be easily accessible and well used. Tauber explains, “An author develops a special relationship with his or her scholarly sources, so it feels ‘good’ to know that others might profit as well.”
After graduating from Tufts University School of Medicine and completing his residency at the University of Washington Affiliated Hospitals, Tauber engaged in several fellowships before becoming an instructor and then a professor at Harvard Medical School. In 1982, he joined the faculty of BU Medical School and, in 1993, of BU’s Department of Philosophy. After beginning his career as an academic physician studying the biochemistry of the inflammatory response, Tauber transitioned to a career in philosophy and the history of biomedicine, emphasizing the development of immunology, in his early 40s.
“As part of my re-orientation,” Tauber explains, “I pondered the doctor-patient relationship and focused on how that basic matter had undergone tensions since forming my ideals in medical school.” He developed this theme and response to the new challenges of 21st century clinical care in two books— Confessions of a Medicine Man (MIT 1999) and Patient Autonomy and the Ethics of Responsibility (MIT 2005) — and a series of papers. Most of the books he donated to the PBE relate to these issues.
“It was exciting to sort through the collection and see the contents,” says Mercurio, who is grateful Tauber chose the YSM PBE as the recipient. Mercurio adds that the PBE placed a label inside the front cover of each book, stating the book is part of the donated collection “from the Library of Professor Alfred I. Tauber, MD,” to recognize Tauber’s generous donation.