Rita Charon

Rita Charon, M.D., Ph.D.
2011 Alma Dea Morani Renaissance Award Recipient

Rita Charon is Professor of Clinical Medicine at the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Columbia University and Executive Director of the Program in Narrative Medicine. She is a general internist in practice in the Associates of Internal Medicine in Presbyterian Hospital. Dr. Charon graduated from Harvard Medical School in 1978 and trained in internal medicine at the Residency Program in Social Medicine at Montefiore Hospital in New York. She completed the Ph.D. in the Department of English of Columbia in 1999, writing on the late works of Henry James and on literary analyses of medical texts.

In 2000, she founded the Program in Narrative Medicine at Columbia and is now its Executive Director. With the Core Faculty in Narrative Medicine at Columbia, she inaugurated the Master of Science in Narrative Medicine at Columbia in 2009, the first graduate program of its kind. Under her leadership, narrative medicine has spread nationally and internationally, with affiliated programs in the US, Canada, Europe, UK, and Asia. Dr. Charon’s research in the Program is supported by the NIH, the NEH, the Veterans Administration, the Josiah Macy, Jr. Foundation, and several other private foundations.

Dr. Charon has designed and directed Columbia’s teaching programs in medical interviewing, humanities and medicine, and narrative medicine. She teaches in Columbia’s English department as well. She has published extensively in medical and literary journals and lectured internationally on narrative medicine, linguistic studies of doctor-patient conversations, narrative ethics, and empathy in medical practice. Dr. Charon has held national leadership positions through the Association of American Medical Colleges, the Society for Health and Human Values, the Society of General Internal Medicine, and the American College of Physicians. She has been honored with a Kaiser Faculty Scholar Award, a Rockefeller Foundation Bellagio residency, a Guggenheim Fellowship, and multiple clinical and literary awards and honors. She is the author of Narrative Medicine: Honoring the Stories of Illness and co-editor of Stories Matter: The Role of Narrative in Medical Ethics and Psychoanalysis and Narrative Medicine. She is working on a book on Henry James.

Biography from the Foundation for the History of Women in Medicine website, here.