Anne Hudson Jones, Ph.D.

Harris L. Kempner Chair in the Humanities in Medicine
Graduate Program Director, MEHU

Ph.D., Comparative Literature,
University of North Carolina


When Anne Hudson Jones joined the institute's faculty in 1979, she became one of the first literature professors in the country to teach in a medical school. For nearly 20 years now, she has been helping other health sciences universities establish programs in literature and medicine. In March 1998, she and former graduate student Faith McLellan traveled to Windsor, England, to participate in a conference on bringing literature and the arts into British medical education. Jones is spending the fall 1998 semester at the University of Utah, conducting reading groups for faculty and graduate students in the humanities and for their colleagues in the medical school, which shares the same campus in Salt Lake City.

“They're bringing me in to arouse interest in a program in literature and medicine and to make suggestions for establishing it,” she says.

Works of literature that take medicine as their topic have special power to elicit the empathy essential to patient-centered health care. In a way that no pathology textbook can, narratives of illness give medical students, most of whom are young and healthy, a sense of what it's like to be ill or frail, Jones explains. Writing in the October 18, 1997, issue ofThe Lancet, she calls Gabriel García Márquez's Love in the Time of Cholera “[a]rguably the greatest novel ever written about ageing” and recommends it especially to “the young, the would-be rational, and the impatient.”

In collaboration with McLellan, Jones wrote a 12-part series on literature and medicine for The Lancet. The 175-year-old international medical journal has invited them to serve as series editors for another dozen essays. This time, the focus will be on international works and authors.

Just as Jones's work has gone beyond the U.S., it also has gone beyond literature: She is helping define an ethics of scholarly publishing. After co-founding the journal Literature and Medicine and serving as its editor-in-chief for more than 10 years, she understands how challenging that task will be. On the one hand, the advancement of knowledge depends on the free exchange and development of new ideas. On the other, books, chapters and papers in scholarly or scientific journals are the hard currency of academia. Being the first to publish a significant finding boosts a career, and a long list of publications weighs in favorably at tenure time. Especially in light of increasing competition for academic positions and research funding, guidelines are crucial. Yet many biomedical researchers aren't sure what constitutes undesirable repetitive publication or whether a senior scientist who directed a lab but didn't participate directly in a study is entitled to authorship credits when the work appears in a peer-reviewed journal. Jones hopes that the book resulting from the IMH-sponsored collaborative research seminar on ethical issues in biomedical publication, due out from Johns Hopkins University Press in 1999, will prompt universities and professional societies to discuss these issues and set criteria for authorship.

Like other institute faculty, Jones derives special satisfaction from following the careers of her former graduate students. Jaclyn Low, now assistant dean of the School of Occupational Therapy at Texas Woman's University in Houston, is continuing to explore narratives of illness. Suzanne Peloquin, professor of occupational therapy at UTMB's School of Allied Health Sciences, has made significant contributions to her profession's views of the therapeutic relationship. Others are teaching, writing and contributing in myriad ways to bringing the perspectives of the humanities to health care. “It's very interesting to see what graduates are doing and where they're taking their work,” Jones says. “Their ability to use the medical humanities in their disciplines extends the field in a way I couldn't.”
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