An American journalist and writer, Whitaker writes primarily about medicine, science, and history. Whitaker was a medical writer at the Albany Times Union from 1989 to 1994. In 1992 he worked as a science journalist at MIT, and later as director of publications at the School of Harvard Medicine. In 1994 he co-founded a publishing company, CenterWatch, which covered the pharmaceutical clinical trial industry. CenterWatch was later acquired by Medical Economics, a division of The Thomson Corporation, in 1998.
He has received numerous awards, such as the Polk George for medical writing or the National Science Association award for best article. In 1998 he co-wrote a series of research articles on psychiatry for the Boston Globe that made him a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for Public Service. Anatomy of an Epidemic won the 2011 Best Book Award from the Association of Investigative Reporters and Editors. Whitaker has earned a reputation for being one of the biggest and most incisive critics of the conventional wisdom of pharmaceutical drug treatments for mental illness.