Dorothy E. Roberts, J.D.

Dorothy Roberts

George A. Weiss University Professor of Law & Sociology; Raymond Pace & Sadie Tanner Mossell Alexander Professor of Civil Rights; and Professor of Africana StudiesDirector, Program on Race, Science and Society

361 McNeil Building

Dorothy Roberts is the George A. Weiss University Professor of Law & Sociology at the University of Pennsylvania, with joint appointments in the Departments of Africana Studies and Sociology and the Law School, where she is the inaugural Raymond Pace and Sadie Tanner Mossell Alexander Professor of Civil Rights. She is also founding director of the Penn Program on Race, Science & Society.

Her path breaking work in law and public policy focuses on urgent social justice issues in reproductive justice, policing, family regulation, science, medicine, and bioethics. Her major books include Killing the Black Body: Race, Reproduction, and the Meaning of Liberty (Pantheon, 1997); Shattered Bonds: The Color of Child Welfare (Basic Books, 2001); Fatal Invention: How Science, Politics, and Big Business Re-create Race in the Twenty-First Century (The New Press, 2011); and Torn Apart: How the Child Welfare System Destroys Black Families—and How Abolition Can Build a Safer World (Basic Books, 2022), as well as more than 100 articles and essays in books and journals, including “Race” in the 1619 Project book.

Her work has been supported by the American Council of Learned Societies, National Science Foundation, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Harvard Program in Ethics & the Professions, Stanford Center for the Comparative Study of Race & Ethnicity, and the Fulbright Program. Recent recognitions of her work include elections to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, American Philosophical Society, and National Academy of Medicine; Rutgers University Honorary Doctor of Laws degree; Society of Family Planning Lifetime Achievement Award; and American Psychiatric Association Solomon Carter Fuller Award.


J.D., Harvard Law School, 1980
B.A. Yale College, 1977

Selected Publications

“Misrepresenting Race—The Role of Medical Schools in Propagating Physician Bias,” New England Journal of Medicine 384:872-878 (2021) (with Christina Amutah, Kaliya Greenidge, Adjoa Mante, Michelle Munyikwa, Sanjna L. Surya, B.A., Eve Higginbotham, David S. Jones, Risa Lavizzo‑Mourey, Jennifer Tsai, Jaya Aysola).


“Abolish Race Correction,” Lancet 397: 17-18 (2021).


“Rationing, Racism and Justice: Advancing the Debate around ‘Colourblind’ COVID-19 Ventilator Allocation (with Harald Schmidt & Nwamaka D. Eneanya), Journal of Medical Ethics  Epub ahead of print doi:10.1136/ medethics-2020-106856 (2021)


“Race and the Enlightenment” in Ibram X. Kendi & Keisha N. Blain, eds., 400 Souls (New World Press, 2021).


“The Community Impact of Racial Disproportionality: The Racial Geography of Child Welfare” in Alan Dettlaff, ed. Racial Disproportionality in the Child Welfare System 235 (Springer 2021)


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