Medicine, Translations and Histories

11-12 June 2015, Centre for the History of Science, Technology and Medicine (CHSTM), University of Manchester, UK

As a widely-circulated article in the Journal of the American Medical Association argued in 2008, the emerging field of Translational Medicine (TM) can be defined in two very different ways: first, the study of the specific ‘bench-to-bedside’ enterprise of harnessing knowledge from basic sciences to produce new drugs, devices and treatment options for patients; and secondly, the more general business of translating research into clinical practice, ensuring new treatments and research knowledge actually reach the patients or populations for whom they are intended.  In policy, these two areas are mostly framed in terms of how new knowledge and practices can be developed and tested faster, and then how innovations can be disseminated more rapidly into practice.  To these two definitions of the problem of translation in medicine, we would add a third, unstated issue: what translations the research of historians, ethnographers, ethicists and other social scientists must undergo in order to engage with clinical practice, health policy, and more general public concerns about health and the healthcare system today.

Historians of medicine and medical journal editors alike are concerned about the paucity of historical perspective in contemporary policymaking and the communication gap between research, practice, and policy in the field of medical history. The Centre for the History of Science, Technology and Medicine (CHSTM), University of Manchester and the Institute of the History of Medicine, Johns Hopkins University, USA, are holding a meeting in Manchester in June 2015 to bring together historians, social scientists, and the policy community to explore critically the issues around Translational Medicine set out above. We hope to attract practitioners and stakeholders to engage in a dialogue on how History might inform, and contribute to the transformation of, medical education and practice.

Topics will include, but are not limited to:

  • translational research in practice: histories, ethnographies and ethics
  • material and conceptual studies of medical innovation
  • models of translation in medicine, public health, and health policy
  • studying translation between the public and private sector
  • translational medicine in the medical curriculum
  • cross national, international and transnational accounts of translational medicine
  • interdisciplinarities with history, ethics, social sciences, and the medical humanities
  • the roles of history, social science, and medical humanities in medical education, biomedical research and clinical practice.

Deadline for abstracts of a maximum of 300 words: 14 February 2015.

We will be applying for conference funding and hope to be able offer support to speakers.

Please send abstracts to: