Robert Klitzman, M.D.
Investigator, Public Health Policy and Practice Core
Professor of Clinical Psychiatry
Robert Klitzman, M.D., is a Research Scientist and Investigator with the HIV Center's Public Health Policy and Practice Core. He co-founded and for five years co-directed the Columbia University Center for Bioethics, and is the Director of the Masters of Bioethics Program at Columbia. He is a Professor of Clinical Psychiatry at Columbia University, and a member of the Division of Psychiatry, Law and Ethics in the Department of Psychiatry.
Using inter-disciplinary methods drawing on medical sociology, medical anthropology, and medical ethics, he has studied several areas related to HIV and other disorders. His book, Being Positive: The Lives of Men and Women With HIV, examines the meanings of HIV infection, the ways in which individuals living with HIV find sources of hope in their lives, and the ways the virus alters individuals' identities and social and moral worlds. He has conducted research with Ronald Bayer, Ph.D. on self-disclosure of HIV serostatus to sexual partners and others, examining how individuals - both heterosexual and gay - make decisions about whether, what, when, and to whom to disclose. Mortal Secrets: Truth and Lies in the Age of AIDS, their book based on this work, contextualizes approaching policy issues concerning partner notification and other areas. The Trembling Mountain: a Personal Account of Kuru, Cannibals, and Mad Cow Disease explores cross-cultural responses to epidemics. His books A Year-Long Night: Tales of a Medical Internship, and In a House of Dreams and Glass: Becoming a Psychiatrist examine psychological, social and ethical issues that arise in medicine and psychiatry, respectively.
His book When Doctors Become Patients explores how physicians, when they become sick due to HIV or other disorders, radically alter their views of medicine, patients, risks and benefits, and other areas. He has written numerous articles investigating issues facing HIV infected health care workers, ways gay men and lesbians communicate about their sexual orientation to their health care providers, gay men's use of MDMA ("ecstasy") and its relationship to unsafe sex and other variables, dilemmas raised by genetic testing, and issues faced by IRBs in decision-making concerning HIV and other research areas, both domestically and internationally. He has been the recipient of a Mentored Clinical Scientist Award (K08) from NIMH, and received several awards for his work, including Fellowships from the Russell Sage Foundation, the Commonwealth Fund, and the Rockefeller Foundation.
Dr. Klitzman most recently published Am I My Genes?: Confronting Fate and Family Secrets in the Age of Genetic Testing, shows how real individuals have confronted these genetic issues in their daily lives. Dr. Klitzman interviewed 64 people who faced Huntington's Disease, breast and ovarian cancer, or Alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency. The book describes -- often in the person's own words -- how each has wrestled with the vast implications that genetics has for their lives and their families. During spring 2012, Dr. Klitzman will be holding readings on his book at the following locations:
- At the New York Academy of Medicine on 5th Avenue on February 28th;
- At the Guggenheim Museum (as an illustrated lectured, with works of art) on March 4th;
- At Barnes and Noble at 116th Street and Broadway on March 22:
- At the Mid-Manhattan New York Public Library (as a lecture, illustrated with works of art) on April 9 at 6:30 pm.
Current HIV Center Studies: