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Centre for the History of Science, Technology and Medicine

Professor Michael Worboys

Research Interests

Infectious Diseases and Bacteriology

Since the publication of my book Spreading Germs, I have continued to work on the history of infectious diseases and bacteriology. First, I worked with Dr Neil Pemberton on rabies and we published Mad Dogs and Englishmen: Rabies in Britain, 1830-2000 (Palgrave, 2007). This was reissued in paperback in 2012 with a new title: Rabies in Britain, 1830-2000: Dogs, Disease and Culture (Palgrave 2012)  Second, Dr Aya Homei and I collaborated on a project on fungal infections, which led to a book entitled Fungal Disease in Britain and the United States, 1850-2000: Mycoses and Modernity (Palgrave 2013).  This book is available as Gold Open Access and an eBook or PDF can be downloaded free from the Palgrave website.  I continue to work on the history of tuberculosis, the introduction of antibiotics, the standardisation of vaccines and am currently researching the emergence of Chlamydia as a sexually transmitted disease.

Laboratory Medicine

I have been working on the relations between science and medicine in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries for many years, but in 2011 I will start work on bench-bedside relations in the period 1950-2000. A team of Dr Carsten Timmermann, Professor John Pickstone, professor David Thompson, Dr Robert Kirk, Dr Stephanie Snow Dr Duncan Wilson and myself have been awarded a Wellcome Trust Programme Grant to investigate the ‘pre-history’ of Translational Medicine.  I am developing work on the history of theories of inflammation and the development of antiinflammatory drugs, especially NSAIDs.

The Dog Fancy and Fancy Dogs

The research on rabies has led to a project on the social history of the pedigree dog breeding in Victorian Britain. This work is being pursued by a team of Dr Neil Pemberton, Dr Julie-marie Strange (History) and myself and was supported by a £261,000 Arts and Humanities Research Council project grant.

In January 2012, a new project entitled ‘Pedigree Chums: Science, medicine and the remaking of the dog in the twentieth century’ will start. I will work with  Matthew Cobb (FLS), Andrew Gardiner (University of Edinburgh), Ed Ramsden (now at Queen Mary), Neil Pemberton and David Feller to 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 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. This work will be supported by a £493,500 Wellcome Trust Programme Grant.

Colonial medicine and science.

I continue to work on various aspects of the tropical medicine and colonial science. A book, Fractured States:
Smallpox, Public Health and vaccination Policy in British India
(Orient Longman, 2005), co-authored with Dr Sanjoy Bhattacharya and Dr Mark Harrison, was published in 2005 and I am contributing to a collection on Science and Empire, edited by Joseph Hodge and Brett Bennett.

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