Robin Wolfe Scheffler is an Associate Professor within the Program in the Science, Technology, and Society at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He studies the history of the modern biological and biomedical sciences and their intersections with developments in American history. His first book, A Contagious Cause, follows the history of cancer virus research in the twentieth century from legislature to laboratory, documenting its origins and impact on the modern biological sciences. He is currently writing a book on the history of the biotechnology industry in Boston, supported by the National Science Foundation and MIT's Levitan Prize in the Humanities. He is in the early stages of preparing a chemical biography of dioxins. The common goal of Professor Scheffler’s projects is to understand the mutual influence of science on society and of society on science.
Professor Scheffler earned his doctorate at Yale in the history of science and medicine. He also holds an M.Phil in the History and Philosophy of Science from the University of Cambridge as well as undergraduate degrees in history and chemistry from the University of Chicago. Before joining the faculty at MIT he was a visiting scholar at the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the Rockefeller Archives Center, and the National Institutes of Health Office of History, among other institutions. He edited a special issue of Studies in the History and Philosophy of the Biological and Biomedical Sciences that focuses on the history of cancer viruses. Professor Scheffler has also published in Isis, the Canadian Medical Association Journal, Endeavour, and the Journal of the History of Biology.
Professor Scheffler has written for publications such as the Washington Post and been interviewed about matters of biology, medicine, and society-- especially cancer, vaccination, and biotechnology-- for a wide range of media outlets, incuding NPR's Morning Edition. Inquiries for interviews or speaking appearances should be directed to rws42 [at] mit.edu. He may be followed on twitter under the handle @CancerHistorian.