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Social Medicine

Core Faculty
Center for Bioethics

PhD Science & Technology Studies
MS Science & Technology Studies
BA Psychology-Based Human Relations
BA French

Jill A. Fisher, Ph.D., is Professor of Social Medicine and core faculty in the UNC Center for Bioethics. Dr. Fisher is a social scientist with a Ph.D. in Science and Technology Studies from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and expertise in medical sociology and research ethics. Her scholarship and teaching interests center upon how social inequalities are produced or exploited by commercialized medicine in the United States. Dr. Fisher has published three books and over 50 peer-reviewed articles and book chapters. She is the recipient of over $5 million in funding as principal investigator or co-principal investigator on grants from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the National Science Foundation (NSF).

Dr. Fisher’s NIH-funded research examines how clinical trials are conducted and who participates in them as researchers and human subjects. In her 2009 book Medical Research for Hire, she shows how clinical trials have become a revenue stream for physicians and an important source of medical “care” for uninsured patients. Her more recent work has explored healthy volunteers’ participation in clinical trials. Healthy volunteers gain no health benefits and expose themselves to risks for the stipends that pharmaceutical companies pay for their time. In her 2020 book Adverse Events, Dr. Fisher analyzes healthy volunteers’ participation in these drug trials through the lenses of stigma and social inequality. Adverse Events was the winner of the 2021 Robert K. Merton Book Award, given by the Science, Knowledge, and Technology Section of the American Sociological Association, and the winner of the 2022 Donald W. Light Book Award for Applied Medical Sociology, given by the Medical Sociology Section of the American Sociological Association.

With support from the National Library of Medicine and the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Dr. Fisher is currently writing a new book on the involvement of children in clinical trials for peanut and other food allergies. She is also conducting NSF-funded research on dual-career academics and universities’ partner-hire policies. Dr. Fisher has also published on the social construction of Munchausen syndrome, tattooing as a cultural practice, gender and science, hospital tracking and location technologies, non-human animal research, and qualitative methods.

Jill Fisher’s website:

Recent Publications

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Jill Fisher