Monthly Archives: March 2014

Talk at Regent’s Park College – tonight!

Regent’s Park College hold a talk this evening at 5.30pm, on:

The Life of Dr Ellen Farrer’, a pioneer female doctor who travelled to India in 1891 and founded the Farrer Hospital.

Free tickets can be booked at:

Or by contacting Katie Pearce on:  01865 288 142

Conference: Society for the Social History of Medicine 2014

Registration for the Society for the Social History of Medicine‘s 2014 conference is now open.  Hosted by Oxford Brookes University and the University of Oxford, the conference will be held at St Anne’s College, University of Oxford, 10-12 July 2014.  With keynote speakers Sally Sheard (Liverpool) and Laurinda Abreu (Evora University), alongside opening and closing remarks by Paul Weindling (Oxford Brookes) and Mark Harrison (Oxford), the conference will showcase the broad diversity of the discipline of the social history of medicine under the theme ‘Disease, Health, and the State’.  The full programme is available at

Registration includes lunches and refreshments July 10-12, wine receptions on July 10 and 11, and dinner on July 11.  Members of the SSHM pay 92 GBP (full) / 56 GBP (student); non-members of the SSHM pay 140 GBP (full) / 85 GBP (student).  Membership with the SSHM costs 44 GBP (full) / 24 GBP (student).

Further information, including details on accommodation and travel to Oxford, can be found on the conference website:

Infectious Disease and the Therapeutic Revolution 1930-1970 (Leverhulme Lecture)

‘An Unnatural History: The Re-Emergence of Infectious Disease in the 20th Century’

Presented by Professor Christoph Gradmann, University of Oslo
Leverhulme Visiting Professor at Wellcome Unit for the history of Medicine, Oxford

These lectures will be hosted at
TORCH – The Oxford Research Centre in the Humanities
Radcliffe Humanities Seminar Room
Radcliffe Observatory Quarter, Woodstock Road, Oxford

Hilary Term 8th Week
Wednesday 12 March
16:00    Infectious Disease and the Therapeutic Revolution 1930-1970
This lecture approaches the history of drug therapies of infectious diseases from 1935-1980 as a succession of three waves of innovation. The first of these is the arrival of sulpha drugs from 1935. These were the product of a mature industry which could quickly mass-produce such substances. Relevant phenomena that we associate with fungal antibiotics such as the standardisation of treatment or the arrival of drug resistant strains were in fact present in application of sulphas already. By contrast, fungal antibiotics which arrived from 1941 came part and parcel with a new type of industry, fermentation on industrial scale. They also paved the way for new – mostly American – players on the drug market. Their prestige as wonder cures rested not just on their efficacy but on their marketing under war time conditions.
The third wave, ensuing around 1960, was one that took anti-infective medicines from disease driven to marketing driven drug development, defining new pathologies and markets such as hospital infections and resistant bacteria.

Trinity Term 3rd Week
Thursday 15 May
17:00    Stalking Microbes: Antibiotic Resistance, Nosocomial Infections and the Demise of the Modern Hospital 1950-1990
Trinity Term 6th Week
Thursday 5 June
17:00    The Return of Natural History: Re-Emerging Infections, the End of Antibiotics and New Public Health

All are welcome.

Wellcome Unit Seminar 10/03/14

Join us for the last seminar of term!

At: The Wellcome Unit for the History of Medicine
Seminar Room, 47 Banbury Road, Oxford

Coffee is available from 2.00pm – Seminars begin at 2.15pm prompt

‘Medicine and Media’
Conveners: Dr Amelia Bonea and Dr Cressida Jervis Read

Week 8 – 10 March
Adam Burgess, University of Kent
Looking Back at a Media Risk Campaign: The Case of Mobile Phones and Masts
It’s fair to say that science and medicine has become embroiled in numerous risk-related controversies in recent years, some of them quite uniquely UK-centred, like the MMR/autism alarm. These are controversies with their own histories and actors, and I’d like to take a retrospective look at another; the health concern about mobile phones and masts which, whilst not uniquely British, was particularly intense in this country. I’ll focus on what I still think is interesting, and find myself still raising about the experience: why the media decided to campaign so determinedly around the issue, and how this allowed an otherwise marginal concern to become a focus for health concern among the public. I will also consider the relatively strong and precautionary political reaction and how it sometimes managed to increase public concern. I will discuss the comparative international differences in how concern developed, or not, and, finally, the reasons why it eventually (and thankfully!) became uninteresting to journalist, politician and public alike – even in the UK.

Dr Burgess is Reader in Social Risk Research at the School of Social Policy, Sociology and Social Research, University of Kent. He has previously lectured at Brunel, Bath and Reading and Westminster universities.

He is associate editor of the European Journal of Risk and Regulation, co-editor of Sociology Compass and is on the editorial board of Health, Risk and Society. He is also vice president of the Risk and Uncertainty (CG04) stream of the International Sociological Association and a research associate of the Centre for the Analysis of Risk and Regulation at the London School of Economics.

He is interested in the range of ‘Risk Studies’; non-economic research into how risk and uncertainty is understood and reacted to by individuals, institutions and society. Much of his research adopts a comparative approach either across different hazards, different nations or different historical periods.

Selected Publications:

  • Cellular Phones, Public Fears and a Culture of Precaution. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2004.
  • Manufactured Uncertainty over Manufactured Sweeteners: the Curious Case of Aspartame, European Journal of Risk Regulation
  • Risk, Ritual and Health Responsibilisation: Japan’s ‘Safety Blanket’ of Surgical Face Mask Wearing (with Mitsu Horii), Sociology of Health and Illness 34
  • ‘Nudging’ Healthy Lifestyles: The UK Experiments with the Behavioural Alternative to Regulation and the Market, European Journal of Risk and Regulation