David S. Jones

David S. Jones

A. Bernard Ackerman Professor of the Culture of Medicine

David Jones completed his A.B. at Harvard College in 1993 (History and Science), and then pursued a Ph.D. in History of Science at Harvard University and an M.D. at Harvard Medical School, receiving both in 2001. After an internship in pediatrics at Children's Hospital and Boston Medical Center, he trained as a psychiatrist at Massachusetts General Hospital and McLean Hospital, and then worked for two years as a staff psychiatrist in the Psychiatric Emergency Service at Cambridge Hospital. He joined the faculty at MIT in 2005 as an Assistant Professor of the History and Culture of Science and Technology.


From 2004 to 2008 Professor Jones directed the Center for the Study of Diversity in Science, Technology, and Medicine at MIT, organizing a successful series of conferences about race, science, and technology. In 2009 he was appointed as a MacVicar Faculty Fellow, MIT’s highest honor for faculty who have made sustained contributions to undergraduate education. He also taught as a lecturer in the Department of Global Health and Social Medicine at Harvard Medical School, where he was awarded the 2010 Donald O'Hara Faculty Prize for Excellence in Teaching.


In 2011 he left MIT to join the Harvard faculty fulltime as the inaugural A. Bernard Ackerman Professor of the Culture of Medicine, a joint position between the Faculty of Arts and Sciences and the Faculty of Medicine. The Ackerman Program at Harvard University fosters collaborations in the medical humanities and social sciences across the two campuses.


His initial research focused on epidemics among American Indians, resulting in a book, Rationalizing Epidemics: Meanings and Uses of American Indian Mortality since 1600 (published by Harvard University Press in 2004), and several articles. Jones has also examined human subjects research, Cold War medicine, HIV and other sexually transmitted infections, and the history of cardiac surgery. His current research explores the history of decision making in cardiac therapeutics, attempting to understand how cardiologists and cardiac surgeons implement new technologies of cardiac revascularization. This research is supported by an Investigator Award in Health Policy Research from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, by the Foundation for Informed Medical Decision Making, and by the National Science Foundation. The first book from this work, Broken Hearts: The Tangled History of Cardiac Care (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2013) examines why it can be so difficult for physicians to determine the efficacy and safety of their treatments. He is now at work on two follow up books. One, On the Origins of Therapies, will trace the evolution of coronary artery bypass surgery. The other examines the history of heart disease and cardiac therapeutics in India.

Current Role

Faculty Committee