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Centre for the History of Science, Technology and Medicine

Archived news for 2011


8 December 2011
Contemporary History of the NHS seminars

The Contemporary History of the NHS seminar meeting planned for Monday 12 December has been postponed until next semester. The series will, however, continue on Monday 16 January, with a seminar on influenza from CHSTM's own Michael Bresalier.


21 November 2011
Cancellation of seminar, 22 November

Unfortunately, owing to unforeseen circumstances, Noemi Toussignant's seminar scheduled for tomorrow will not now be going ahead. Apologies for any inconvenience. We hope to be able to reschedule this seminar for early 2012.


30 September 2011
Retirement of Professor John Pickstone

At the end of September, John Pickstone formally retires after thirty seven years service at the University. We cannot wish John bon voyage as he is going nowhere. He will continue to work on a number of projects in the history of science, technology and medicine and is helping with the 2012 Manchester Histories Festival. Indeed, there are new avenues, as John will taking a lead on initiatives with University heritage. He is uniquely qualified for this. There is no one who has (net)worked as much across the University; nor who cares as much about its past and the place of the past in its present and future.

John is a Lancashire lad, born and raised in Burnley, before studying physiology at Cambridge and Queen's University, Ontario. He then moved to the history and philosophy of science, with postgraduate work on early nineteenth-century physiology at UCL and Chelsea College. In 1974, he took up the post of Lecturer in the Department of History of Science and Technology at UMIST and his interests shifted to the history of medicine, particularly hospitals in the Manchester region. In 1985-6, he moved to the Department of Science and Technology Policy at the University of Manchester and the following year led a breakaway to establish CHSTM, to which was soon added a Wellcome Unit for the History of Medicine and the National Archive for the History of Computing. He directed CHSTM for sixteen years.

In 2000, John published Ways of Knowing (WoK) which set out a new ‘big picture’ framework for understanding science, technology, and medicine (STM) in the West from the Renaissance to the present. He continues to develop and promote WoK, challenging his peers to adopt more synthetic, analytical approaches. In medical history, John’s recent research has focused on cancer, medical technologies, and the history of the NHS. With friends in Manchester Metropolitan University and the City, he initiated and organised the major Manchester Histories Festival in March 2009. This was as huge success, filling the Town Hall with over 5000 people and stimulated a general review of Manchester's reflections on its history -- and, as mentioned above, there will be a second Manchester Histories Festival in March 2012.

There will no event to mark John’s formal retirement this week; his work and contribution to the University will celebrated at a symposium at Easter next year.


30 September 2011
Genius in a Bottle of Chianti: Simone Turchetti on Enrico Fermi

CHSTM's Simone Turchetti will be giving a talk tonight (30 September, 7pm) on the Nobel-prize winning Italian physicist Enrico Fermi. The event will take place in Cross Street Chapel, Cross Street, Central Manchester, and is part of a series of events organised by the Dante Alighieri Society Manchester. Admission: £3.


27 September 2011
CHSTM Seminar Series, October-December 2011

Speaker details and titles for our main weekly seminar series are now available.


22 September 2011
Seminar updates: Mental Health Forum and NHS series

The autumn programmes for the monthly Mental Health Forum and our seminar series on the Contemporary History of the NHS are now available.


19 September 2011
Medical education and the Manchester Medical School

In March, Professor John Pickstone and Dr James Hopkins embarked on a two-year study of medical education in contemporary Britain. The project uses the Manchester School of Medicine as its case study from circa the end of the World War Two and the beginning of the National Health Service in 1948, to 2004, when the new University of Manchester was created.

So far, nineteen oral history interviews have been conducted. These have featured former Medical School Deans, academic and teaching hospital staff and administrators. All have given invaluable insights into teaching and the curriculum, academic research and development of the Medical School. Many interviewees have also been kind enough to contribute their personal papers and photographs to the project.

We have also been able to contact and interview former students with assistance from the Manchester Medical Society, the University Alumni Association and friends of CHSTM. A number of interviews have been arranged for the coming months, but the team are very keen to hear from any former students or staff who may be able to contribute.

The University's archives and the Medical School’s museum have been crucial sources of information. During the course of the research, items not currently under archival care have been identified in the Stopford building and we’re pleased to report that these have been transferred for safekeeping to the Medical Museum.

It has been decided to trial a new methodology for collating and analysing the archives and oral history interviews. QDA Miner, a qualitative data analysis software, has been purchased for the project which can be used to 'tag' research according to any range of values. Whilst requiring an investment of time, it is hoped that this programme will assist in the writing up of the project by providing quick and easy access to information by theme, period or individual and be able to identify links between topics.

If you or someone you know might be able to contribute to the project, please contact James Hopkins via the link above.


19 September 2011
Lunchtime seminars, October-December 2011

This semester's programme of lunchtime seminars is now available.

19 September 2011
CHSTM Newsletter, Autumn 2011

Our latest newsletter features news of Duncan Wilson's new book Tissue Culture in Science and Society, our Wellcome Trust Programme Grant on dogs, The Earth Under Surveillance project, and other new research, plus reports on recent conferences and public events.


8 September 2011
CHSTM on Twitter

You can now keep up with us on Twitter. Follow @ManCHSTM for news of our staff, local events, and anything we think you might find interesting from the worlds of HSTM and science communicaton studies.


6 September 2011
Talk: Janet Golden - 'Babies Made Us Modern' - 12 Sept

The semester (and with it the CHSTM seminar series) has not started yet, but we are taking advantage of a brief visit by Prof. Janet Golden (Rutgers University), who has kindly agreed to speak on her work: 'Babies Made Us Modern': 12 Sept, CHSTM seminar room (Simon 2.57), 12 noon - 1 pm. Please feel free to bring your lunch, or join Prof. Golden and a few of us for lunch afterwards. Janet is currently researching and writing about babies, health, and illness in the 20th century US. Her books include Message in a Bottle: The Making of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (Harvard University Press, 2006) and A Social History of Wet Nursing in America: From Breast to Bottle (Cambridge University Press, 1996); she has also co-edited several works, including Mothers and Motherhood (with Rima Apple) and Framing Disease (with Charles Rosenberg). She also frequently publishes opinion pieces regarding current health and social policy that draw on her historical research.


9 August 2011
New Wellcome programme grant: Pedigree Chums

The team of Michael Worboys, Matthew Cobb, Andrew Gardiner (University of Edinburgh) and Ed Ramsden has been awarded a Wellcome Trust Programme Grant (£493,500) for work on a project entitled "Pedigree Chums: Science, medicine and the remaking of the dog in the twentieth century".

The research will investigate the place of the dog in modern biological and medical research, and how biological and medical research have changed the modern dog. We will explore why and how changing ideas and practices on breeding, feeding, training and treating altered the physical form, bodily function, behaviour, health and meanings of different types of dog: pet, show, working, laboratory and stray-dangerous.

We will also study how biologists, veterinarians, the pet food industry, breeders, owners, and the public came together also to change the character of companionship and emotional ties between people and dogs.

The dog presents an ideal case for studying the links between changes in science and medicine, and companionship relations. No animal species has been more altered in form by breeding. No species has a closer relationship with humans, where training and selection have enabled to dog to work with and for humans in so many roles. No species is fed a more industrialized diet, and no species has their health treated in a manner so close to that of humans.


9 August 2011
Short stories from modern science

Litmus: short stories from modern science is a new collection from independent publisher Comma Press, pairing short-fiction authors with scientific advisors to create stories which aim to illuminate scientific change. The contributors include CHSTM's James Sumner, who advised local author Zoe Lambert on a piece about Lise Meitner and the 1939 discovery of atomic fission.


l-r: internal examiner Carsten Timmermann; Alice; supervisor Michael Worboys; external examiner Virginia Berridge
21 July 2011
Viva success: Alice Nicholls

Last Wednesday saw CHSTM PhD student Alice Nicholls successully defend her dissertation, "Life in the Balance: Critical Illness and British Intensive Care, 1948-1986".

Alice's dissertation is the first in-depth study of the history of intensive care in Britain and makes significant contributions to the histories of high-tech medicine, specialist nursing care and specialisation in recent medicine. An innovative feature worth mentioning: formerly a curator at the Science Museum, Alice introduces each chapter with a brief, illustrated history of an object that exemplifies some of the issues discussed in the chapter.


1 July 2011
Influenza after 1918: registration now open

CHSTM is co-organising the international conference "After 1918: history and politics of influenza in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries". The conference will be hosted by the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Santé Publique at Rennes, France, on Wednesday 24 - Friday 26 August. The full programme, registration form and contact details are available from the conference webpages.


l-r: supervisor James Sumner; Paul; examiners David Kirby and Graeme Gooday
13 June 2011
Congratulations to Paul Marshall

CHSTM PhD student Paul Marshall successfully defended his dissertation last week. "Inventing television: transnational networks of co-operation and rivalry, 1870-1936" focuses on the period before television became a mass consumer phenomenon. Despite the familiar invention stories of popular literature, the process was a complex one: Paul examines the the involvement of the cinema industry, the possibility of alternatives to the familiar ("wireless-with-pictures") model, and the interactions between developers in Britain, the United States, Germany, and the furthest corners of the Soviet Union.

Paul wrote most of his PhD on a part-time basis while working as an engineer on high-performance visual display equipment. His plans for the immediate future, however, focus on his role as one of the directors of Golden Age Television Recreations, a firm supplying vintage cameras and broadcast equipment as period props for TV and film productions.


13 May 2011
Lab Coats in Hollywood reviewed

David Kirby's new book on science consultants and film, Lab Coats in Hollywood, has been warmly welcomed by reviewers in both Science and Nature.


12 May 2011
Vacancies at CHSTM

We are seeking to appoint a Lecturer in the History of Medicine (fixed term, up to 24 months) and a Research Associate in the History of Medicine (fixed term, up to 12 months). Further particulars, instructions on how to apply and application forms can be found at the URLs below. Informal enquiries should be directed to Professor Michael Worboys.


3 May 2011
Contemporary history of the NHS meeting postponed

Alex Mold's seminar, scheduled for Monday 16 May, has had to be postponed. A revised date will be announced with the autumn seminar programme. The next meeting of this seminar series will therefore be on Monday 20 July.


15 April 2011
Conference: history and politics of influenza, August 2011

'After 1918: history and politics of influenza in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries' is a joint conference between CHSTM and the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Santé Publique (Paris/Rennes), to be held at Rennes, France, from Wednesday 24 to Friday 26 August. We are now accepting paper proposals: the deadline for submission is Sunday 15 May.


25 March 2011
David Kirby on The Material World

You can catch CHSTM's science communication specialist David Kirby on this week's edition of Radio 4's magazine show The Material World, talking about the relationship between science and the cinema as discussed in his new book, Lab Coats in Hollywood.


23 March 2011
Mental Health Forum seminar postponed

Owing to the ongoing industrial action, Tommy Dickinson's talk on  'Queer Treatments', planned for Thursday 24 March, has been rearranged. He will now give it on the first meeting of next semester (29 September).


l-r: supervisors James Sumner and Jeff Hughes; Anna; examiners Simone Turchetti, Andrew Warwick and John Pickstone
18 February 2011
Viva success: Anna Carlsson-Hyslop

Congratulations to Anna Carlsson-Hyslop, who successfully defended her PhD thesis last week. "An anatomy of storm surge science at Liverpool Tidal Institute, 1919-1959: forecasting, practices of calculation and patronage" combines institutional history with an examination of how twentieth-century mathematicians found sources of support for their work, and how they adapted their techniques of calculation towards new statistical methods.


18 February 2011
Contemporary History of the NHS seminars

Our Contemporary History of the NHS seminar listings for February to June 2011 have now been updated.


4 February 2011
New Wellcome Trust Programme Grant on the History of Translational Medicine, 1950-2000

At the start of the year, work began in the Centre on a new, five-year Programme Grant on the history of translational medicine since 1950.  The grant of £881,000 will support historical research and public engagement by a team led by Dr Carsten Timmermann and Professor Michael Worboys, with Professor John Pickstone and Professor David Thompson from Manchester's Medical School, alongside researchers Dr Rob Kirk, Dr Stephanie Snow and Dr Duncan Wilson in the Faculty of Life Sciences.


4 February 2011
David Kirby at the Lit and Phil

David Kirby recently presented a lecture to the Manchester Literary and Philosophical Society. His talk is the first to be hosted by the historic Society on science-media relations. Based on material from his forthcoming book Lab Coats in Hollywood: science, scientists and cinema, it considered how fictional  representations, created with the assistance of scientists, have influenced the construction of scientific knowledge and the public understanding of science.


4 February 2011
Mental Health Forum meetings, spring 2011

Details of the Mental Health Forum's monthly speaker meetings for this semester are now available.

27 January 2011
Job: Professor of the History of Science, Technology and Medicine and Director of CHSTM

CHSTM seeks applications for a professorial appointment. This post arises owing to the impending retirement of Professor John Pickstone, and also carries with it the directorship of CHSTM. Professor Michael Worboys has led the Centre for nine years, and in the past year has won two major research grants from the AHRC and Wellcome Trust, on which he now wishes to concentrate.

We are seeking an outstanding researcher, teacher and leader with a record of research and leadership in one or more areas of the history of science, technology and medicine since 1800, as evidenced by original research publications, professional profile and achievement in the field.

The appointee will play a management role in the Faculty of Life Sciences, as well as liaising with Schools across the University in the development of interdisciplinary work. In addition to making a strong research and leadership contribution, he or she will offer high quality teaching at undergraduate and Masters levels.

The post is available from 1 September 2011. Please direct informal enquiries to Professor Michael Worboys. Applications should be returned by Monday 28 February 2011.

*27 January 2011
TV appearances: Neil Pemberton on dogs and fear; James Sumner on Joule and beer

Readers in the UK may have noticed two CHSTM researchers on the television this month. On 26 January, Neil Pemberton appeared on BBC1's magazine programme The One Show, in a segment on the 1969 Camberley rabies scare and its aftermath. Neil talked to reporter Joe Crowley about the dramatic public information campaigns developed in the 1970s, and the appearance of "mad dog" themes in popular fiction.

*A couple of weeks earlier, James Sumner was seen in an edition of Horizon, BBC2's flagship science documentary series. The programme features comedian and ex-physicist Ben Miller as he tries to define, and explain, the concept of one degree of temperature. James's segment discusses the Salford brewer and physical theorist James Joule, whose brewery training encouraged the close attention to thermometric values which led to his concept of energy. The sequence, featuring a re-creation of Joule's famous paddle-wheel experiment, was shot at Elgood's brewery in Wisbech.


Flurin receives a parting gift from CHSTM Director Michael Worboys

27 January 2011
Goodbye to Flurin Condrau

We have recently said farewell to our colleague Flurin Condrau, who leaves us after seven years at CHSTM.

Flurin is returning to his native Zurich, where he takes up the Directorship of the prestigious Institute and Museum for the History of Medicine at the University of Zurich, one of the largest university institutes of its kind in Europe. Previous Institute directors include Henry Sigerist and Erwin Ackerknecht.

We thank Flurin for his work here at CHSTM, and wish him success in this exciting new position.


25 January 2011
Seminar series, February-May 2011

Our main CHSTM seminar programme and lunchtime seminar programme for Semester Two are now available.


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