Mara Buchbinder


Associate Professor, Social Medicine
Adjunct Associate Professor, Anthropology

PhD 2010, Anthropology, University of California - Los Angeles
MA 2005, Anthropology, Case Western Reserve University
AB 2002, Psychological & Brain Sciences, Dartmouth College            

Mara Buchbinder, Ph.D. is Associate Professor of Social Medicine and Adjunct Associate Professor of Anthropology at UNC – Chapel Hill, as well as core faculty in the UNC Center for Bioethics. Dr. Buchbinder’s research explores the sociocultural and ethical dimensions of clinical encounters in the United States, with a particular interest in the role of language in medicine.  Her recent work focuses on how patients, families, and healthcare providers navigate social and ethical challenges resulting from changes in medical technology, law, and health policy. Dr. Buchbinder is the author of two books, Saving Babies? The Consequences of Newborn Genetic Screening (with Stefan Timmermans, 2013, University of Chicago Press) and All in Your Head: Making Sense of Pediatric Pain (2015, University of California Press). She was selected for a Greenwall Faculty Scholars Award (2015-2018), a career development award which enables junior faculty to carry out innovative bioethics research. Her research has been funded by the National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation, the Greenwall Foundation, and the Wenner-Gren Foundation.

Dr. Buchbinder’s current project, The Vermont Study of Aid-in-Dying (Vermont SAID), is an ethnographic study of the implementation and cultural impact of Vermont’s “Patient Choice and Control at End of Life” Act (Act 39). The law authorizes physicians to prescribe a lethal dose of medication to a mentally competent, terminally ill, adult patient for the purpose of ending the patient’s life. Six states in the US currently permit this practice, and with ongoing legislative activities in many other states, these laws are expected to spread nationally. Regardless of one’s moral position on assisted dying, this shifting legislative climate raises questions of broad public significance about how the legalization of medical aid-in-dying affects death, dying, and end-of-life care in the US. By tracing the social life of Act 39 from the Vermont State House to the institutions, experts, and ordinary people responsible for managing death, this project will yield valuable information about the sociocultural consequences of assisted dying legislation.

Curriculum Vitae


Office: 341A MacNider


Phone: 919.843.6881

Fax: 919.966.7499

Post: Mara Buchbinder / CB #7240, Department of Social Medicine / University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill / Chapel Hill, NC 27599-7240