Expanding Beyond Penn Medicine


In addition to exploring Penn’s role in the production and promotion of race-based medicine, PMAS  expands beyond the University to consider how enslavement and its ensuing afterlife, have impacted medical knowledge production, practice, and policies in the broader Philadelphia metropolitan region, in the United States, and across the world. Other medical institutions around the United States and around the world have begun to acknowledge their complicity with the institution of slavery and its enduring consequences in the production of medical knowledge, practice, and policy.  These institutions include:

  • Harvard University has launched an interdisciplinary initiative, “Harvard and the Legacies of Slavery.”  Led by Dean Tomiko Brown-Nagin, the initiative draws from the expertise of faculty from multiple disciplines.  Among their areas of focus is the impact of slavery on American health care.
  • Johns Hopkins University has acknowledged the contributions of Henrietta Lacks whose cancerous cervical cells were essential to the biotechnology boom of the 1950s, with annual symposia, scholarships,  and a building named in her honor.
  • University of Virginia's Commissions on Slavery and the University in the Age of Segregation explores slavery and its consequences in the history of Eugenics.
  • Rice University has launched a Taskforce on Slavery, Segregation, and Racial Injustice.
  • Georgetown University’s President has apologized for its direct connections with slavery and has launched a University-wide effort to remember and repair the consequences of its connections to slavery.
  • Britain’s University of Glasgow has announced a new initiative to raise millions of dollars to research slavery’s impact on the University and the world.
  • Queens University has begun to teach medical students about the history of racial segregation in student admission.  It has apologized for its 1918 ban on the admission of Black medical students.
  • Many other institutions are similarly researching their entanglements with slavery, especially medicine.


Explorations of the history and the legacy of enslavement in medicine are not limited to colleges and universities.  Non-profit and corporate organizations are also engaged in this effort including:  




Brittany Farr, Affiliate Postdoctoral Fellow, "Gender Problems in the Law and Medicine of Slavery"