William C Summers, MD, PhD

Emeritus Faculty; Lecturer in History

Departments & Organizations

Therapeutic Radiology: Radiobiology

History of Medicine

Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry

Faculty Research

Yale Combined Program in the Biological and Biomedical Sciences (BBS): Biochemistry, Biophysics and Structural Biology: DNA Dynamics | Microbiology: Viruses

Global Health Studies: Anthropology & Culture | Infectious Diseases

MacMillan Center: East Asian Studies

Office of Cooperative Research


Professor William C. Summers' interests range from molecular biology to Chinese culture and history. A well-published researcher in virology and in the history of science and medicine, Professor Summers earned both his M.D. and his Ph.D. in molecular biology from the University of Wisconsin in 1967. He joined the Yale Faculty in 1968. Professor Summers has held fellowships and visiting faculty positions at major research universities in the United States, Sweden, Great Britain, Singapore, and China; he serves on numerous panels and editorial boards.

He first travelled to the People's Republic of China in 1980 with the Yale delegation that re-established the medical exchange program with the Hunan Medical College. Professor Summers has done extensive research on Chinese public health and medicine, publishing articles on historic parallels between Chinese and Western medical development, Chinese government medical policy, and acupuncture.

At Yale, students enjoy Professor Summers' Freshman Seminar, "Epidemics in Global Perspective," which deals with historical issues of policy and epidemic disease. He also teaches a seminar on the history of Chinese science in which he deals with Chinese concepts of the natural world, Asian technological development, and East-West scientific interactions. His outgoing and accessible personality makes him a favorite among students, and he was awared the 2006 Harwood F. Byrnes/Richard B. Sewall Prize for teaching in Yale College

Education & Training

MD University of Wisconsin (1967)
PhD University of Wisconsin (1967)
MS University of Wisconsin-Madison (1963)
BS University of Wisconsin-Madison (1961)
Postdoctoral Fellow Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Honors & Recognition

  • Harwood F. Byrnes/Richard B. Sewall Prize for teaching in Yale CollegeYale College (2006)

  • PSP Award of Assn. of American Publishers (Honorable Mention, for Felix d’Herelle and the Origins of Molecular Biology, Yale Univ. Press)Assn of American Publishers (2000)

Professional Service

  • Board of Governors Elizabethan Club of Yale University (2004 - 2008)

  • Member Terry Lecture Committee of Yale University (1998 - 2009)

  • Council member, 1996-1999 Chair, Meetings Committee, Chair, Osler Medal Committee Chair, Garrison Lecture Committee. American Association for History of Medicine (1996 - 2006)

  • Archives Committee American Society for Microbiology (1994 - 2009)

  • Oversight of Radiation Safety at Yale Radiation Safety Committee (1990 - 2009)

  • Journal Editor The Yale J. Biol. Med (1980 - 2005)

  • Grant Review Panels and Study Sections NIH (1976 - 2009)

International Activity

  • Research and teaching on History of Medicine and Science in China. China (1980)

    Research and teaching on History of Medicine and Science in China.

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Contact Info

William C Summers, MD, PhD
Mailing Address
Molec. Biophys Biochem DeptPO Box 208114

New Haven, CT 06520-8114

Summers Lab