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History of Medicine

The Department of History and Philosophy of Science is a major centre for research, teaching and public engagement in history of medicine.

The distinctive feature of our programme is that medical historians work in the largest and most distinguished department of history and philosophy of science in the UK. So students and researchers can both focus on history of medicine and take advantage of intellectual exchange with historians of physical sciences, sociologists and philosophers of science, staff in the Whipple Museum and bioethicists.

Expertise in medical history covers an exceptionally wide range, from antiquity to the present day. We are especially interested in encouraging work on Generation to Reproduction. This is the theme of a Wellcome Trust strategic award held for eight years from 1 October 2009 by a cross-disciplinary group of Cambridge historians of medicine. The research will provide fresh perspectives on issues ranging from ancient fertility rites to IVF. A strongly grounded account, building on a lively field of historical investigation, will offer a fresh basis for policy and public debate.

The Department provides training in history of medicine at every level. We also welcome inquiries about postdoctoral research, including Wellcome research fellowships, short-term visits and affiliate status.

History of Medicine news

'The toad is slow to let you know'
As Parliament debates the hormonal pregnancy test Primodos and its alleged links to birth defects, Jesse Olszynko-Gryn places the drug in the history of pregnancy testing and asks why the British government took so long to ban it.

Congratulations to Leah Astbury
Leah Astbury will be staying in Cambridge this academic year as a Society for Renaissance Studies Postdoctoral Fellow with matching funding from the Isaac Newton Trust.

CRASSH ProFutura Scientia Fellow
Congratulations to Helen Curry, who has been selected as a CRASSH ProFutura Scientia Fellow for 2017–20.

History of Medicine events

Twelfth Cambridge Wellcome Lecture in the History of Medicine
24 November 2016

Email list

Ucam-histmed is an email list for people in the Cambridge area interested in history of medicine.

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Cambridge historians of medicine and biology are using a Wellcome strategic award to take a concerted approach to the history of reproduction.


Explore our online exhibition on the history of embryo images.


Browse and search Simon Forman's and Richard Napier's records of thousands of consultations.