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Centre for the History of Science, Technology and Medicine

Archived news for 2014


12 December 2014
Playing God film series 2015

How do we anticipate and comprehend worlds just beyond our grasp? How do we find ways of understanding and portraying the interplay between science and religion on film? As part of the Wellcome Trust-funded Playing God Project, the Science Entertainment Lab at CHSTM will host a series of six films that confront the nature of, and connections between, science and religion.

Screenings will be on Thursdays across March, April, and May in the historic Engine Room at the International Anthony Burgess Foundation in Manchester, and are free and open to the public. At each film screening an expert speaker will provide a brief introduction and then lead a post-screening discussion with the audience.

Screening times and other details will be posted in due course on the Science and Entertainment Lab blog and Twitter account, where you can also contact the organisers.

5 March 2015 Bride of Frankenstein (Whale, 1935)
Introduced by David A Kirby (University of Manchester)


19 March 2015 The Exorcist (Friedkin, 1973)
Introduced by film scholar Mark Jancovich (University of East Anglia)

16 April 2015 Planet of the Apes (Schaffner, 1968)
Introduced by Amy C Chambers (University of Manchester)

30 April 2015 Solaris (Tarkovsky, 1972)
Introduced by filmmaker and writer Sean Martin.

14 May 2015 Creation (Ameil, 2009)
Introduced by scholar and theologan Peter Scott (University of Manchester) and historian of science Joe Cain (University College London).

21 May 2015 Altered States (Russell, 1980)
Introduced by William R Macauley (University of Manchester)


12 December 2014
History and Policy: Julian Simpson on migrant medics

Julian Simpson has a new article at the History and Policy website, titled “Diagnosing a flight from care: medical migration and ‘dirty work’ in the NHS”. Julian argues for a change in the UK’s attitude towards migrant doctors and a cultural shift in British medical schools to address the historical flight of UK graduates from care for the mentally ill, older people and patients living in less affluent areas, career paths commonly taken up by migrant doctors and traditionally seen as low in prestige. The National Health Service has been dependent on migrant medics since its inception, and currently over a third of doctors registered in the UK are overseas-trained. Julian is currently preparing a book on South Asian doctors and British general practice which is to be published by Manchester University Press.

History and Policy is a collaboration between the Institute of Contemporary British History at King’s College London and the University of Cambridge. It aims to act as a link between academic historians and policy makers and promotes the role that history can play in informing policy discussions.


17 November 2014
Job: Research Fellow in the history of biology and/or medicine

CHSTM is very pleased to be able to offer a two-year Research Fellow position to pursue independent research and scholarly publications in the history of the biological sciences (including medicine) post-1800. The position is supported by the Williamson Fund, which was established to further the study of these subjects at the University. The start date is September 2015.

This post would suit a historian of modern biology and/or medicine, broadly construed. You will be expected to specify a research question and/or area of research, and are encouraged to send up to two samples of work with their completed application. We are particularly interested in work in or across the following areas: ecology and environmental sciences; biomedical sciences; botany and zoology; global health; molecular biology; and biomedicine and its publics.


12 November 2014
HSTM skills in the workplace: Gemma Reed at Catalyst


Gemma (centre) at a recent exhibit unveiling at Catalyst.
Image courtesy of Runcorn and Widnes World
Former CHSTM student Gemma Reed has been putting the skills she acquired in our undergraduate and postgraduate degrees to good use in her new job at Catalyst, an interactive science centre and museum in Widnes devoted to the history of chemistry and how chemical products are used in everyday life. In her role as education assistant, Gemma has recently travelled to Abu Dhabi, where she trains local students to be science communicators, and delivers and writes a series of workshops at Catalyst that aim to get children and their families interested in major issues raised by science, technology, engineering and medicine (STEM).

Gemma believes that “the work we did on science communication theory during my BSc and MSc has been an incredibly important part of building this series… It’s an honour to find a role where my science communication skills and passion for HTSM themes have been united in one role.” She intends to stay in touch with CHSTM and may pursue work on the history of the chemical industry in future, having just discovered that the Catalyst archives are located underneath her office! 


30 October 2014
Duncan Wilson Q&A on his new open-access book, The Making of British Bioethics


As part of open access week, which runs from the 20-27th October, Duncan Wilson took part in a Q&A session with editors at Manchester University Press to discuss his new book, The Making of British Bioethics. This is the first open-access book published by Manchester University Press, and the second to be published by CHSTM staff, following Mick Worboys and Aya Homei’s Fungal Disease in Britain and the United States, 1850–2000. During the Q&A Duncan discussed the benefits and potential drawbacks of open-access publishing, and outlined why the history of bioethics should reach as wide an audience as possible.

The Making of British Bioethics outlines how recent decades have witnessed profound shifts in the politics of medicine and the biological sciences, with members of several professions, including philosophers, lawyers and social scientists, now discussing and helping to regulate issues once left to doctors and scientists. It provides the first in-depth study of this outside involvement, known as ‘bioethics’, charts how bioethicists became renowned ‘ethics experts’, and has important implications for our understanding of ethical issues such as embryo experiments and assisted dying.

The book is published on Friday 31 October 2014. It will be available as a free download and in hard copy format.


30 October 2014
Michael Worboys uncovers the life and career of the ‘other’ Everett Millais


The name Everett Millais normally conjures up the famous painter John Everett Millais, who founded the pre-Raphaelite movement and will soon feature in the forthcoming biopic of his wife Effie Gray. But as part of his Arts and Humanities Research Council-funded project on the history of Victorian dog fancy, Professor Michael Worboys has revealed the fascinating life and scientific career of their eldest son, the ‘other’ Everett Millais.

After a troubled youth that eventually saw him banished to Australia for several years to avoid scandal, this Everett Millais returned a reformed character and settled down to become a gentleman scientist and leading dog breeder. He introduced the basset hound into Britain, popularised the hereditarian theories of Francis Galton in a book titled The Theory and Practice of Rational Breeding, undertook work in bacteriology in C S Sherrington's laboratory at St Thomas’s Hospital, and pioneered artificial insemination in Britain.

Professor Worboys tells the story of Everett Millais's life and work in this month’s new release of entries in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Subscribers can access the biography here.


16 October 2014
Call for papers: Stories about science – exploring science communication and entertainment media, June 2015

The Science and Entertainment Lab research group at CHSTM, supported by the Wellcome Trust, will be hosting a symposium in the summer to bring together scholars from across various disciplines to explore the communication of science through entertainment media. The event will take place in Manchester across Thursday 4 and Friday 5 June. There is an open call for proposals for 20-minute paper presentations, with a deadline of Friday 19 December.


13 October 2014
CHSTM at Manchester Science Festival 2014

The eighth annual Manchester Science Festival takes place at venues all around the city from Thursday 23 October to Sunday 2 November, and as usual CHSTM is well represented. Our staff and students will be contributing to the following events:

Saturday 25 October
University challenges
A guided tour of the University of Manchester's earliest site, led by James Sumner, lecturer in history of technology, and Erin Beeston, PhD student and museums researcher. Here, Rutherford and Geiger probed the secrets of the atom, Marie Stopes began her trailblazing career, Alan Turing pondered machine intelligence, Manchester textile money funded the uncovering of ancient Egypt, and a computer learnt to sing.

Sunday 26 October
Big-up female boffins
CHSTM PhD student Camilla Røstvik is a contributor to this event on the representation of women in science through history, organised by local arts and crafts activist initiative Warp & Weft.  

Monday 27 October
Crime Scene Investigation: playing with history
CHSTM’s Director Ian Burney contributes to this unique event featuring a team of software developers, two interactive lectures and a brand new computer game. Discover the role of bloodhounds in the hunt for Jack the Ripper and find out how CSI was “invented” in the late nineteenth century, before seeing one of the first demonstrations of a prototype video game that enables players to participate in an imagined historical murder investigation.
This event is currently sold out: contact the organisers for waiting list information.

Tuesday 28 October
Robot turtle to Raspberry Pi: communicating computing
Could you explain computing without a computer? In the 1960s and 70s, teachers came up with ingenious ways to present concepts without expensive facilities. In the 1980s, small, cheap computers brought new approaches; today, programming is at the heart of the national curriculum, aided by a new generation of personal devices. This event, combining past and present through talks and hands-on demonstrations, is a collaboration between James Sumner, lecturer in history of technology at CHSTM, and Leucha Veneer, outreach officer at the University of Warwick Department of Computer Science.

Thursday 30 October
Bright Club Manchester: Dimensions
The acclaimed cerebral stand-up comedy night returns, once again featuring a set from Hannah Kershaw, who will be drawing laughs from her PhD research on the history of British sex education, alongside five other performers from the local research community.
This event is expected to sell out: we recommend that you book soon.

Saturday 1 November
Liverpool Road: from haulage to heritage
Opened in 1830, Liverpool Road Station in Castlefield is best known as the original terminus of the world’s first passenger rail line, but its main role was as a goods station, connecting Manchester’s manufacturing with the world over more than a century. The site is now occupied by the Museum of Science and Industry, which is now collaborating with CHSTM to explore how to present its past. Join us for a guided tour led by Erin Beeston, whose PhD research is uncovering the stories of life and work in and around the site, along with project supervisor James Sumner.

Saturday 1 November
It's alive! Frankenscience of poetry
Our science communication specialist, Jane Gregory, provides a talk about science in film in this event featuring 'filmpoems' by young film-makers and live spoken word performances.


24 September 2014
CHSTM Seminars

The CHSTM seminar programme for October to December is now available.


18 September 2014
Ian Burney becomes Director of CHSTM


After twelve years in charge, Mick Worboys has stepped down as Director of CHSTM to take up a well-deserved Emeritus Professorship. Colleagues and friends of CHSTM are grateful for his dedicated and innovative leadership, and look forward to working with him in his (active) retirement.

Dr Ian Burney now becomes CHSTM’s third Director in as many decades. A graduate of the University of California at Berkeley, Ian has been a member of CHSTM since 1999. He is best known for his work on the history of forensic medicine and science, and is the author of two monographs in this field: Bodies of Evidence: Medicine and the Politics of the English Inquest, 1830-1926 (Johns Hopkins, 2000) and Poison, Detection and the Victorian Imagination (Manchester, 2006). He is currently completing a book manuscript on the homicide investigation in twentieth-century England, which stems from his recent Wellcome Trust research grant.

Ian takes on this role at a time of considerable change for the Centre. Watch this space for further developments!


9 September 2014
Lunchtime seminars, September to December

The latest schedule for our weekly Tuesday lunchtime seminar, organised by CHSTM PhD students, is now available.


5 September 2014
Roberto Cantoni wins 2014 SHOT Levinson Prize

After successfully graduating as a PhD in April, Roberto Cantoni has won the prestigious Levinson Prize, awarded by the Society for the History of Technology (SHOT) for an unpublished essay contributing to the understanding of a technology, device or process in historical context.
Roberto’s winning article, “What’s in a pipe? Technopolitical Debate over the Ontology of Oil Pipes at NATO (1960–1962)”, looks at the proposal for an embargo of oil pipes and manufacturing equipment to the Soviet Union, presented at the Brussels headquarters of the Western defence alliance. The article explores the conflicts that ensued amongst NATO allies, arguing that even establishing what a pipeline was became contentious.

Roberto will receive the prize at this year’s SHOT annual meeting in Dearborn, Michigan, and his manuscript will be considered for publication in Technology and Culture. Congratulations to Roberto from all of us at CHSTM (and members of the TEUS project)!


1 September 2014
Neil Pemberton talks bloodhounds and sleuthing on the BBC


CHSTM research associate Neil Pemberton appeared on the 27 August edition of The One Show to discuss the tracking abilities of the renowned English bloodhound. Neil outlined the ways in which the breed has been framed by popular culture, including the development of mythology surrounding the breed and Arthur Conan Doyle’s likening of Sherlock Holmes’s forensic powers to the olfactory abilities of the dog.

You can find more detail on Neil’s work on the relationship between the English bloodhound and cultures of Victorian detection in the following articles:


11 August 2014
Book co-authored by former CHSTM student makes headlines

Andrew Bowman, a former PhD student at CHSTM, is part of an interdisciplinary team whose new book has received favourable media coverage this week. The book, titled The End of the Experiment? From Competition to The Foundational Economy, calls for an end to the neo-liberal enthusiasm for competition and market forces, and argues for a new experiment in social licensing where the right to trade is dependent on the discharge of social obligation in the form of training, sourcing and living wages. An article in the Guardian called the book ‘refreshing’ and urged Labour leader Ed Miliband to ‘take it on his holidays’.

Andrew’s PhD at CHSTM was on the role scientists played in the development of agricultural policy in late colonial Zambia. Since graduating, he has worked at the University of Manchester’s Centre for Research on Socio-Cultural Change.


21 July 2014
Bringing science to life: CHSTM at the FLS Community Open Day


On Saturday 28 June, CHSTM research associates Dr Ray Macauley and Dr Amy Chambers ran a popular stall at the Faculty of Life Sciences’ annual Community Open Day. Their theme, ‘Messages to and from the Future’, drew on research generated by their current Wellcome Trust-funded project analysing the connections between science and entertainment media.

Amy’s display explored the notion of ‘edutainment’ and the importance of believable (if not accurate) science in film, television, video games, and comic books. The most popular part of her display was a collection of Jurassic Park toy dinosaurs (kindly loaned from the project’s director, Dr David A Kirby): these led to some great discussions about play and learning about science through different forms of media from an early age.

Ray’s contribution focused on the scientific basis of messages to extraterrestrials and descendants of humankind in the remote future. His display included reproductions of two messages engraved on gold-plated metallic objects, the Pioneer plaque and Voyager record, attached to spacecraft and launched into space by NASA during the 1970s and prominently featured in both news and entertainment media. The display sparked lively discussions about the search for life on other worlds and communication with extraterrestrials.

If you are interested in following the work of the Science Entertainment Lab, please take a look at the accompanying blog and twitter feed.



Coffee break in the Grand Hall of the Sackville Street building, formerly the Manchester Municipal College of Technology and home to Donald Cardwell’s History of Science Department at UMIST, where John Pickstone worked between 1974 and 1985.

1 July 2014
Remembering John Pickstone

On Friday 20 June, colleagues, friends and family met in Manchester to remember and celebrate John Pickstone’s pioneering contributions to the history of science, technology and medicine, and the history of the north-west.

The day featured four one-hour ‘seminars’ that centred on milestones in John’s career, encompassing the history of physiology in nineteenth century France, fevers in industrial Manchester, ‘big picture’ histories of STM, and public histories of Manchester and the north-west. In a fitting testament to John’s lasting influence, the symposium was full and included former CHSTM staff who travelled from the United States and Europe, as well as colleagues from departments across Britain.

The lively debates, which John would surely have appreciated, were captured by several delegates on Twitter and can be found by searching the hashtag #jvpmem.


30 June 2014
Stephanie Snow contributes to Jimmy Savile investigation

CHSTM research associate Stephanie Snow was among a group of History & Policy historians commissioned by Kate Lampard, the independent overseer of the NHS and Department of Health investigations into Jimmy Savile, to provide insight into the culture and issues that formed the background to Savile’s life and his offending on NHS premises.

Stephanie drew on her oral history work with doctors and managers who had worked in the NHS from the 1950s to the 2000s to establish the culture of management during this period and the significance of different management structures in promoting particular cultures of interaction between doctors, nurses and managers.

Commenting on the contribution of History & Policy, Kate Lampard said: “Dealing with historical cases of sexual abuse is inherently difficult. Inevitably questions are asked about what was acceptable at the time. History & Policy provided invaluable insight into the parameters of acceptable behaviour, societal norms and the culture of the NHS in the ‘60s, ‘70s and ‘80s that was shared with investigators at Broadmoor, Leeds General Infirmary and Stoke Mandeville hospitals.

“This common understanding helped all three organisations avoid hindsight bias and added significantly to the rigour, thoroughness and fairness of their investigation reports.”

For further information, see Stephanie’s work for History & Policy on NHS management structures and culture from around 1960 to 2000:


4 June 2014
Biology with Science and Society students: gaining work experience and skills

Undergraduate students in our Biology with Science and Society with Industrial Experience degree spend a year on placements to gain work experience and diversify their career options. This year, our second year student Rajan Sidhu spent time at Notch Communications and learnt about scientific communications strategies, including branding and advertising. She has also written several articles for the Oxbridge Biotechnology Roundtable (OBR) Review:

For more information about our Biology with Science and Society programme, visit


31 May 2014
Workshop: science and technology at NATO, Friday 27 June

At the end of this month, CHSTM will be hosting a one-day workshop on the role of NATO-sponsored science and technology, from the mid-1950s onwards, presented as part of The Earth Under Surveillance (TEUS) programme sponsored by the European Research Council.


13 May 2014
Roberto Cantoni's successful viva


l-r: internal examiner Jeff Hughes, external examiner Ronald Doel (Florida State), Roberto Cantoni and supervisor Simone Turchetti
One of our PhD students, Roberto Cantoni, has successfully defended his dissertation "Oily Deals. Exploration, diplomacy and security in early Cold War France and Italy". The dissertation discusses the post-war history of national oil companies in the two countries, paying special attention to the interplay of oil exploration research and intelligence programmes. Roberto's examination of previously untapped archive materials reveals the importance of these national enterprises' "oily deals" in state affairs and international diplomacy.

The thesis is one of two to be completed in the context of the ERC-funded The Earth Under Surveillance (TEUS) project. Roberto is now working towards completing applications for a post-doctoral position that will allow him to continue to research on oil exploration and its recent history. Congratulations to Roberto!


13 May 2014
The Science and Entertainment Laboratory on Twitter

The Science and Entertainment Laboratory is a new project which has just launched on Twitter as part of Dr David Kirby’s Wellcome Trust-funded project "Playing God", exploring the interplay between bioscience, religion, and entertainment media.

The Twitter launch is the first in a series of events generated by the project including a workshop in Manchester at the end of May. Tweets will provide comment and links to material examining the interactions between science and entertainment media, with regular contributions from Dr Kirby and two Research Associates on the project, Dr Amy Chambers and Dr Ray Macaulay.

Follow @SciEntLab for discussion on the role of science in film, television, print media, and more!


6 May 2014
John Pickstone memorial meeting, Friday 20 June

CHSTM is organising a one-day meeting on Friday 20 June to remember and celebrate John Pickstone’s contribution to the history of science, technology and medicine, and the history of the north-west. The day will feature four one-hour “seminars” and time for socialising, with a good lunch and drinks to end the day. The event is free, but please register your attendance by contacting us.


l-r: external examiner Mike Hulme, supervisor David Kirby, David Hirst, second supervisor Simone Turchetti and internal examiner Vlad Jankovic

23 April 2014
Congratulations to David Hirst

CHSTM PhD student David Hirst recently successfully defended his dissertation entitled "Negotiating Climates: The Politics of Climate Change and the Formation of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), 1979-1992". David's dissertation offered new insights into how scientific, public, media and political debates in the 1970s and 1980s contributed to the development and current structure of the U.N.'s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

David has recently started a position as a Science/Environment Specialist in the Department of Information Services at the House of Commons Library.

23 April 2014
Stephanie Snow co-authors highly commended paper

A paper in the Journal of Health Organisation and Management (JHOM), co-authored by CHSTM’s Stephanie Snow with Imelda McDermott, Kath Checkland, Steve Harrison and Anna Coleman from the Health Policy, Politics and Organisation (HiPPO) group, has been highly commended by the journal’s editorial team. The paper explores the professional identities of GP and non-GP managers within the NHS, and the journal’s editorial team described it as ‘one of the most impressive pieces of work’ in 2013.

The JHOM is making the paper freely available via its website for a short period.


7 April 2014
Additional seminar: Ron Doel on scientific intelligence, Tuesday 29 April

We are delighted to announce an addition to our seminar programme this month. Our speaker is Ron Doel from Florida State University. The title of his talk is “Science in Black: Scientists, Scientific Practice, and Scientific Intelligence in the Cold War”. Here is a brief description of the seminar topic: ‘The hallmark of intelligence is secrecy and control of information. The hallmark of science is openness and communication. How did scientific intelligence take root—and flourish—during the Cold War?’


7 April 2014
Conference: exploring the intersections between science, religion and entertainment media

A forthcoming meeting, to be held on Saturday 31 May and Sunday 1 June, will bring together an interdisciplinary group of scholars to explore the important but under-researched area of entertainment media and its relationship to both science and religion. The meeting is organised by David Kirby, Amy Chambers and Ray Macauley, and is part of our current Wellcome Trust-funded research project in this area.

There will be no cost to attend the workshop, but registration will be limited.


4 April 2014
It's this easy to pick up rabies

1994 MAFF poster. (Image: Wellcome Library, London)

CHSTM Director Michael Worboys gave a lunchtime talk at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) in London on 1 April. The event was organised by the Pets and Rabies team, who were interested in the historical roots of public perceptions of risk around rabies. In Britain, public fears are much greater than, say, in nearby countries in Continental Europe, where the disease was endemic until a decade or so ago.

Professor Worboys discussed the long medical history of the disease, from its reputation as the worst of all deaths, with mind and body out of control, through to the campaigns run in the 1970s by DEFRA's predecessor, the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (MAFF). MAFF's television advertising and lurid posters, one of which suggested the title of the talk, were highly successful in scaring the public about the dangers of pet smuggling and value of six month quarantines.

Official propaganda was backed up by what can best be called 'rabid fiction': TV series like The Mad Death, and novels with titles such as Day of the Mad Dogs and Saliva. The power of rabid continues, as in Danny Boyle's film 28 Days Later, in which the British population is decimated by a disease called 'rage': la rage is the French term for rabies.

Rabies in Britain, 1830-2000: Dogs, Disease and Culture (Palgrave 2012) by Neil Pemberton and Michael Worboys in available in paperback.


4 April 2014
Save the date: John Pickstone Symposium, Friday 20 June

The Symposium to celebrate the contribution of John Pickstone to histories of the science, technology, and medicine, and to Manchester histories, will be held on Friday 20th June 2014 at the University of Manchester.

We are making a first announcement, before the programme and venue is settled, as many people asked for as much notice as possible. We will circulate full details later, but can now confirm that the Symposium will start at 11.00 (coffee from 10.30) and finish at 4.30, after which there will be a reception. There is no fee.

We are planning to have four one-hour 'seminars', each on a particular area of John's work. These are likely to be: physiology; public health, Big Pictures, and Public/Manchester Histories. We will circulate a programme and venue details as soon as possible, hopefully before Easter.


2 April 2014
BSHS announces John Pickstone Prize

The British Society for the History of Science has announced the establishment of a BSHS John Pickstone Prize, in memory of our founding Director.

The Pickstone Prize will be awarded every two years to the best scholarly book in the history of science (broadly construed) in English, alternating with the Society's Dingle Prize for the best popular book. In tribute to the Pickstonian project's emphasis on broad scope and ambition, the organisers stipulate that the winning volume should "mark a major advance in the understanding and interpretation of the scientific past."

Nominations for the inaugural 2014 Prize close on Sunday 15 June, and the winner will be announced in December.

CHSTM is also organising a one-day symposium on John's work and legacy, to be held in June. Details will be circulated shortly.



24 March 2014
Duncan Wilson and ‘How to be Immortal’

Duncan Wilson (second left) with cast and crew on the set of ‘How to be Immortal’ at the Lowry Theatre, Salford, in March 2014

CHSTM research fellow Duncan Wilson has just finished a stint as consultant and post-show speaker for the Penny Dreadful theatre company’s new play, How to be Immortal. The play, which toured Britain in early 2014, combines three true stories to make us think about love, what makes us human, and the traces people leave behind after they die. 

The first story centres on Dr George Gey, who is looking to culture human tissue in Baltimore during the 1950s. The second, set in the 1990s, involves Deborah Lacks, who is coming to terms with learning that Gey used cells from her mother, Henrietta Lacks, to create the world’s first ‘immortal’ cell line in 1951. The final contemporary story involves a cellist called Rosa, who comes to terms with her partner’s death by composing music from his DNA sequence.

The play has been well received, with one reviewer claiming that ‘its revelatory and universal subject matter make this a vital 90 minutes of theatre’. Duncan was involved in the script drafting stage, sharing his expertise on the history of tissue culture and medical ethics, and participated in several debates on ‘Who Owns Our DNA?’.


24 March 2014
Health, History and Policy Seminar: the role of the GP

l-r: Professor Andrew Gray, Professor Stephen Peckham, Professor Virginia Berridge

Doctors, policymakers and academics recently came together to consider the changing role of the general practitioner at a Health, History and Policy Seminar, organised by CHSTM’s Stephanie Snow and Elizabeth Toon with the participation of the Health Policy, Politics and Organisation (HiPPO) research group at the University.

General practice is promoted as the cornerstone of healthcare within the NHS, yet GPs are often criticised for poor quality care and service provision. The GP’s role as ‘family doctor’ has been a recurrent policy theme since the 1950s, but GPs are also encouraged to take on specialist roles around chronic disease, to act as entrepreneurs and to lead various forms of clinical commissioning (including the newly formed Clinical Commissioning Groups). Discussion focused on the development of these apparently contradictory priorities and their significance for future policy.

Mike Eeckelaers, GP and Chair of the Central Manchester Clinical Commissioning Group, Professor Stephen Peckham, Director of the Department of Health Policy Research Unit in Commissioning and the Health System, and Dr Julian Simpson, from CHSTM, gave brief presentations covering historical and social scientific perspectives before the event opened up to a roundtable discussion. The event was chaired by Dr Kath Checkland, from HiPPO, and was audio-recorded. A briefing will be prepared and disseminated soon.

The Health, History and Policy Seminar series is run in collaboration with the Centre for History in Public Health at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, and is sponsored by the Wellcome Trust. Its aim is to encourage interaction between historians, social scientists and policymakers, and to use these disciplinary perspectives to inform policymaking. The next meeting, on ‘Alcohol’, will take place on Thursday 12 June 2014 in London. For further details, contact Dr Stephanie Snow.


23 February 2014
University of Manchester feminist reading group

One of our PhD students, Camilla Røstvik, is among the organisers of a new reading group:

The University of Manchester feminist reading group is a friendly, interdisciplinary group that meets once a month to discuss canonical feminist texts. From Wollstonecraft to Woolf, we read to understand how historical feminist discourse influences our society today. Everyone is welcome, the group is open to all genders and all levels – undergrad and staff alike.

For now we have established a Facebook group ( where information about readings (all available free) and meetings are published. If you do not use Facebook, please contact as we are in the process of setting up an email list.


20 February 2014
John Pickstone memorial celebration, Thursday 27 February

CHSTM wishes to express its collective thanks for the many condolence messages sent for John’s family and for the Centre. We have had such an enormous number of messages that it has been impossible to reply to all individually, but we are collecting the emails and cards to present to John's family.

In addition to a private family funeral, there will be a memorial celebration of John’s life and work, open to all who wish to pay their respects. This will take place from 2 till 3pm on Thursday 27th February at Withington Methodist Church, 43 Wilmslow Road, Manchester M20 4AN.

For those coming from outside of Manchester, the Church is on the main 41, 42, 43, 142, and 143 bus routes from the Piccadilly Gardens bus terminus, which is 10 minutes’ walk from Manchester Piccadilly Station. All the buses travel south, down Oxford Road and through the universities’ corridor. The taxi ride from the station is 4 miles and normally takes around 20 minutes.

Following the memorial celebration, there is afternoon tea in the Garden Room at Chancellors Hotel, to which everyone is invited. The Hotel is a walkable mile from Church and also on the north-running 41, 42, 43, 142, and 143 bus routes. The full address is Chancellors Way, Moseley Road, Fallowfield, Manchester M14 6ZT.

Those who are unable to attend may wish to know that there will also be a memorial symposium at the University in early June 2014, organised by CHSTM. We will circulate details in the coming weeks.

Charitable donations may be sent care of the funeral directors, R Pepperdine and Sons of Chorlton: please contact them directly on 0161 881 5363 or at


14 February 2014
John Pickstone, 1944-2014

It is with deep regret and sadness that we announce the death of Professor John Pickstone, CHSTM’s founding Director and for many years a central figure in the life of the Centre, the local research community, and the international discipline.

Born and raised in Burnley, John developed his scholarly career in Cambridge, London, Ontario and Minnesota. He returned to the north west when he was appointed to the Department of History of Science and Technology, at the former University of Manchester Institute of Science and Technology (UMIST), to work on the history of hospitals in the Manchester region.

In 1985, he moved to the Victoria University of Manchester and established CHSTM, which he directed until 2002 when he became a Research Professor. Within the HSTM community, he is best known for his work on the problem of providing ‘Big Picture’ narratives, most notably in his wide-ranging methodological manifesto Ways of Knowing (2000), which has been translated into several languages. His most recent work was on the history of modern medicine and medical technology, especially the recent history of the NHS.

John also had a passionate interest in the regional history of science and medicine. He was central to establishing the Manchester Histories Festival in 2009, which was a huge success and has become a regular celebration of Manchester’s heritage.

Having formally retired in 2011, John continued as a Professor Emeritus at CHSTM and developed a new role as advisor to the University on its history and heritage. He remained an active and enthusiastic presence at CHSTM, as colleague and friend, up to the week before his death, which occurred on Wednesday 12 February following a short illness.

Memorial arrangements will be announced soon.


7 February 2014
Fred Jevons Science Policy Lecture: Arie Rip, Tuesday 4 March

The Fred Jevons Science Policy Lecture, commemorating the founding professor of Liberal Studies in Science at Manchester, is organised jointly by CHSTM, the Manchester Institute of Innovation Research, and Policy@Manchester, a new initiative to network and showcase the University's research and expertise relevant to public policy.

The 2014 lecture “Fashions in science policy, past and present” will be delivered by Professor Arie Rip (University of Twente) on Tuesday 4th March 2014 at 5.30pm. The lecture will be followed by a drinks reception. The lecture is free to attend, but you must register to reserve a place.


31 January 2014
Professorship at CHSTM

As part of the University's Project Diamond initiative, CHSTM is seeking candidates for a chair (senior research-focused professorship) in the history of science, technology and/or medicine.

We invite applicants from all HSTM-related sub-fields, methodologies and geographic specialisations, and would particularly welcome applicants who share our interest in approaching modern (post-1800) HSTM as an integrated field of study, with links to Science Communication.

The closing date for applications is Tuesday 25 February.

For all details, please refer to the full announcement in the University's job opportunities guide:

Informal enquiries should be addressed to Professor Michael Worboys, <>.


16 January 2014
Spinning stories


CHSTM PhD student Erin Beeston appeared on BBC television recently, as an edition of Great British Railway Journeys made its way to Bolton – and specifically to Hall i' th' Wood, home of the eighteenth-century 'hero of invention' Samuel Crompton. Erin, who until beginning her PhD was a Collections Officer for Bolton Museums, told the story of Crompton's invention of the spinning mule, his lack of commercial success, and later commemoration by his home town as a key figure of the Industrial Revolution.

Erin's PhD project deals with related questions of the problems and uses of industrial heritage narratives, focusing on the case of Liverpool Road Station, home of Manchester's present Museum of Science and Industry.


14 January 2014
CHSTM Seminars

Happy New Year! The CHSTM seminar programme for February to May is now available.


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