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Michelle LaBonte

Michelle LaBonte

Assistant Professor // History

Assistant Professor // Cornerstone

Research focus:
History of Medicine

Office and Contact

Room: BRNG 6122

Office hours:

  • Please use Calendly to schedule an appointment, or email if you would prefer a different time.


Phone: 47446

Michelle LaBonte is a historian of biomedicine with interests in the history of diagnostics and therapeutics. Before joining the faculty at Purdue, she was a Lecturer in the Department of the History of Science at Harvard University, where she received a PhD in the History of Science in 2022.

Prior to embarking on a career as a historian, she was initially trained as a biologist, receiving an BA in Molecular Biology from Princeton University and a PhD in Virology in the Division of Medical Sciences from Harvard University. After post-doctoral work at Harvard, she spent many years teaching undergraduate students in the classroom and in the laboratory, including time on the faculty in the Department of Biological Sciences at Wellesley College.

Michelle’s experiences as a practicing scientist and a biology professor, coupled with her training as a historian of biomedicine, have prompted her to ask broad analytical questions about the nature of science and medicine and how they reflect deeper cultural and social values and norms. Her current book project, Challenging Diagnosis: Cystic Fibrosis, Diagnostic Technologies, and the Persistence of Uncertainty in Medicine, examines the sociocultural and scientific factors that have contributed to diagnostic uncertainty in medicine, foregrounding the impact of such uncertainty on patients and families.


She has published widely in the history of medicine, history of biology, medical ethics, biology education, and immunology. Some of her recent work has appeared in the Journal of the History of Medicine and Allied Sciences, the Cambridge Quarterly of Healthcare Ethics, the Bulletin of the History of Medicine, and the Journal of the History of Biology.

Dr LaBonte is currently accepting graduate students with research interests in the history of modern biomedicine.