James Black

Assistant Professor


I received my BA in mathematics and psychology at Reed College. I went on to get a dual MD-PhD degree at the University of Illinois in Neuroscience, focusing on neural plasticity and the effects of experience on brain development. Later work focused on providing psychiatric services in rural communities affected by drug epidemics.

I currently work as a hospitalist at Regions, teaching UMN medical students and psychiatry residents in the Regions-Hennepin residency program. I also help out as an ethics consultant and have been writing on moral injury experienced by people with psychiatric and addiction problems, issues of epistemic injustice in psychiatry, and psychiatry futility.

More recently I have been focused on how to ethically ration health care in severe catastrophes. In particular, the climate crisis will be extraordinarily expensive, forcing severe cutbacks in health care and other essential services. To keep it fair and affordable, we must plan for a major restructuring of healthcare.

Research Summary

Rural community strategies for coping with drug epidemics and crisis. Optimizing psychiatric services for multi-problem families; for example: children in foster care (e.g., child neglect or trauma, mild head injury) their parents (e.g., substance abuse, PTSD, other psychiatric illness) and social context (e.g., domestic violence, poverty). Early experience effects on brain anatomy, particularly the effects of trauma, poor attachment quality, maternal depression, and potentially healing experience, such as normative experience, psychotherapy, or enrichment effects.