Past Speaker Series Events

Edward C. Halperin, M.D., M.A., “Why Did the United States Medical School Admissions Quota for Jews End?” 
When: Thursday, April 11, 2019
Where: Holsti-Anderson Family Assembly Room, Room 153 Rubesntein Library
At the end of World War II anti-Semitic medical school admissions quotas were deeply entrenched in the United States. Twenty-five years later they were gone. Why did that happen and what are the implications for the current controversy regarding alleged quotas directed against Asian-Americans?
Dr. Halperin is Chancellor/Chief Executive Officer of the New York Medical College, Valhalla NY.

Adam BiggsAdam Biggs, Faculty at the University of South Carolina Lancaster. "The Newest Negroes: Black Doctors and the Desegregation of Harlem Hospital, 1919-1935." 
When: Tuesday, March 26, 2019
Where: Holsti-Anderson Family Assembly Room, Room 153 Rubenstein Library
Professor Biggs's lecture will focus on the desegregation of Harlem Hospital, highlighting the conflicts and tensions that took shape as black doctors sought to merge their professional goals with the larger cause of racial improvement. Adam Biggs is faculty at the University of South Carolina Lancaster where he teaches African American Studies and US History.  His research examines black doctors and their efforts to address the problem of race in early 20th century America. 
Co-sponsored by the Bullitt History of Medicine Club at UNC-Chapel Hill.

Arabic Medicine Conquers Latin Europe, 1050-1300: Methods and Motives
November 1-2, 2018

Thursday, November 1: Rubenstein Library, Room 153
5 p.m.: Exhibit tour
With curators Sean Swanick and Rachel Ingold

5:30 p.m.: Keynote lecture
Cristina Alvarez Millán of the UNED (Madrid), "Arabic Medicine in the World of Classical Islam: Growth & Achievement"
Reception to follow

Friday, November 2: Rubenstein Library, Room 249
10 a.m. - 2 p.m. Symposium featuring:
Eliza Glaze (Coastal Carolina University)
Francis Newton (Duke)
Michael McVaugh (UNC – Chapel Hill)
Joseph Shatzmiller (Duke)

The event coincides with an exhibit, Translation and Transmission, an Intellectual Pursuit in the Middle Ages: Selections from the History of Medicine Collections on display in the Josiah Charles Trent History of Medicine Room from October 16, 2018 – February 16, 2019.

Raul Necochea, Ph.D., "Contraception Crossroads: Health Workers Encounter Family Planning in Mid-20th Century Latin America."

When: Monday, April 30, 2018, noon (12 p.m.)
Where: Holsti-Anderson Family Assembly Room, Room 153 Rubenstein Library
Between the 1930s and the 1970s, health workers of different types began to embrace, slowly and selectively, the value of smaller families for all people in the region as well as to become used to new types of contraceptive technologies. What were the circumstances under which physicians, nurses, midwives, and social workers first encountered the use of birth control in Latin America? What they did do to advance and limit the use of contraception? How did they interact with birth control users? The answers to these questions help us better understand the context and the mindsets of people on the forefront of a momentous development: the normalization of family planning in the so-called Third World. Dr. Nechochea is Associate Professor in the Department of Social Medicine & Adjunct Associate Professor, Department of History at the University North Carolina, Chapel Hill. 

Todd Savitt, Ph.D. "Race, Medicine, Authorship, and the 'Discovery' of Sickle Cell Disease in 1910-1911." 
When: Wednesday, October 25, 2017
Where: Holsti-Anderson Family Assembly Room, Room 153 Rubenstein Library
The first two case histories of sickle cell disease (SCD) appeared in the medical literature within three months of each other in 1910 and 1911.  The very divergent stories of the first two sickle-cell patients and their physicians are told against the backdrop of a racially divided America and of a highly competitive scientific community. Dr. Savitt’s talk will discuss how race and class affected the discovery of SCD and how credit for the two discoveries were apportioned. Dr. Savitt will also talk about his own “adventures” in tracking down the identities and backgrounds of these first two SCD patients. Dr. Savitt is a medical historian and professor in the Department of Bioethics and Interdisciplinary Studies in the Brody School of Medicine at East Carolina University.

Jeff BakerJeff Baker, M.D., Ph.D. "Technology, Hope, and Motherhood:  What We Can Learn from the History of the Infant Incubator"
When: Tuesday, April 11, 2017
Where: Holsti-Anderson Family Assembly Room, Room 153 Rubenstein Library
At the turn of the last century, a new medical invention known as the infant incubator captured the imagination of physicians and the public.   The device became a public sensation and appeared in settings ranging from hospitals to world fairs midway side-shows (complete with live infants).   But in the process it set off a great controversy regarding whether so-called premature and weak infants should be rescued in the first place, and whether their care should be entrusted to mothers, physicians, or scientifically-trained nurses.  Dr. Baker is the Director of the Trent Center for Bioethics, Humanities & History of Medicine and Professor of Pediatrics in the School of Medicine at Duke University. He is the author of The machine in the nursery : incubator technology and the origins of newborn intensive care (Johns Hopkins University Press, 1996) and a leading authority on the history of the infant incubator.

HIV/AIDS and the Health Humanities: A Global Perspective
“Exploring the Maria de Bruyn Papers in the Rubenstein Library’s History of Medicine Collections through a Humument Lens”
When: Wednesday, November 30, 2016
Where: Holsti-Anderson Family Assembly Room, Room 153 Rubenstein Library
The papers of medical anthropologist Maria de Bruyn, a recent acquisition by the History of Medicine Collections, will be the focus of several events this fall. On November 30, the Franklin Humanities Institute Health Humanities Lab will host a special World AIDS Day event featuring a keynote address by de Bruyn and a lecture by poet and writer Kelley Swain. Students in professor Kearsley Stewart's Duke Global Health Institute seminar on HIV/AIDS will discuss their three-week workshop with Swain and present an exhibit of their work based on materials from the Maria de Bruyn collection.

Cali BuckleyCali Buckley, Ph.D. candidate in Art History, Penn State University. “The History and Legacy of Ivory Anatomical Manikins.”
When: Tuesday, October 25, 2016
Where: Holsti-Anderson Family Assembly Room, Room 153 Rubenstein Library
Ivory anatomical models comprise a little-known set of objects that were popular with male doctors of the late 17th- and 18th-centuries. Their narrative is currently being revised in light of a history of questionable assumptions. Though small and largely inaccurate, the story of anatomical manikins reveals how the politics of medicine impresses meaning on medical objects - often transcending the needs of the scientific community. Ms. Buckley will present on her current hypotheses as well as the process by which medical objects can be examined according to social history, connoisseurship, and material culture

Edward HalperinEdward Halperin, M.D., M.A. "'This is a Christian institution and we will tolerate no Jews here':  The Brooklyn Interns Hazing Episodes."
When: Monday, March 7, 2016
Where: Holsti-Anderson Family Assembly Room, Room 153 Rubenstein Library
Anti-semitism in U.S. medical education rarely flared into acts of violence; except in Brooklyn. Presenting the results of recently completed research, Dr. Halperin will describe the assaults on the Jewish interns of Kings County Hospital in 1916 and 1927 and the implications of these assaults for the contemporary debate on immigration and higher education.

Vesalius Symposium
Thrusday, September 17 and Friday, September 18, 2015
Holsi-Anderson Family Assembly Room
Join us for a symposium celebrating Vesalius and a new exhibit, Languages of Anatomy: From Vesalius to the Digital Age. The symposium will be held on Thursday, September 17, and Friday, September 18, in the Rubenstein Library.  All are welcome to attend. Details can be found here.

"The Right to Remain Private: Challenges to Protecting Health Information in Historical Research."

When: Thursday, April 16, 2015
Where: Room 217, Perkins Library
Join us for a round table discussion on how the federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) impacts research conducted in libraries and archives. Panelists include Cynthia Greenlee, Post-Doctoral Fellow, Richards Civil War Era Center and the Africana Research Center, Penn State; Phoebe Evans Letocha, Collections Management Archivist of the Alan Mason Chesney Archives of the Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions; Laura Micham, Merle Hoffman Director of the Sallie Bingham Center for Women’s History and Culture, Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University Libraries; Stephen Novak, Head of Archives & Special Collections at Columbia University’s Augustus C. Long Health Sciences Library; and Kevin Smith, Director of Copyright and Scholarly Communication, Duke University Libraries.

Scholars and researchers encounter issues with accessing information when researching 20th century materials containing sensitive health information. Archivists grapple with how to collect and describe sensitive health information. This roundtable discussion will discuss the legal and ethical implications of HIPAA and how to move forward in a scholarly community.

Sabine Hildebrandt, M.D.Sabine Hildebrandt, M.D. "The role of anatomists in the destruction of victims of National Socialism."
When: Monday, March 23, 2015
Where: Room 217, Perkins Library
The history of anatomy during the National Socialist (NS) period from 1933 to 1945 has only recently come under systematic investigation. Most German anatomists became members of the NS party, while other anatomists were persecuted for so-called “racial” or political reasons. Body procurement included increasing numbers of bodies of victims of the NS system. Anatomists used these bodies for teaching and research purposes, and thus played a decisive role in the NS regime’s intended utter annihilation of its perceived enemies. Current research is focused on the reconstruction of the victims’ identities and their dignified memorialization.

Dr. Hildebrandt is an assistant professor in the department of general pediatrics at Boston Children’s Hospital and a lecturer on global health and social medicine at Harvard Medical School.

Constance Putnam, Ph.D. "
A Revisionist View of the Semmelweis Story."
When: Wednesday, February 25, 2015
Where: Room 217, Perkins Library

Dr. Putnam  is a medical history researcher and writer who has spent several years reviewing the story of Ignaz Semmelweis, a nineteenth-century Hungarian physician and leading proponent of antisepsis. Semmelweis was more than the ‘hand-washing guy;’ he had a very full, though brief, career as part of a vital and impressive medical community – a part of the tale that is generally ignored.

Karen Kruse Thomas, Ph.D. "An Unlikely Alliance: Medical Civil Rights Reformers and Southern Senators in the Age of Deluxe Jim Crow."
Karen Kruse Thomas
When: Wednesday, October 29, 2014
Where: Room 217, Perkins Library

Dr. Thomas has served as Historian of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health since 2012. She earned her doctorate in history from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and has taught U.S. history at the universities of North Carolina, Minnesota, and Florida. In 2011, the University of Georgia Press published her first book, Deluxe Jim Crow: Civil Rights and American Health Policy, 1935-1954

Margaret HumphreysMargaret Humphreys, M.D., Ph.D. "Finding Dr. Harris: an African American Surgeon in the U.S. Civil War."
When:  Wednesday, June 18, 2014
Where: Room 102, Medical Center Library

Dr. Humphreys is the Josiah Charles Trent Professor of the History of Medicine and Professor of Medicine at Duke University.  Her talk will explore her research into finding out more about the pesonal and professional life of an African American surgeon in the U.S. Civil War with ties to North Carolina.

Edward Halperin, M.D., M.A. "A Defense of the Humanities in Medical Education."
When: Monday, March 31, 2014
Where: Room 102, Medical Center Library

Dr. Halperin will distinguish between medical humanism and the medical humanities, discuss the role of the medical humanities in medical education with particular emphasis on the role of medical history, and provide some specific examples of the value of the humanities in the education of physicians.

Dr. Halperin is Chancellor for Health Affairs and Chief Executive Officer at New York Medical College.

Jeremy Greene, M.D., Ph.D. "The Materiality of the Brand: Form, Function, and the Pharmaceutical Trademark."
When: Wednesday, October 23, 2013
Where: Room 217, Perkins Library

Dr. Greene’s talk will explore the limits of patents and trademarks in the sphere of pharmaceutical intellectual property, and illuminate a century of controversy over the clinical, public health, and financial value of “look-alike drugs,” generic drugs that imitated their brand-name counterparts down to exact parameters of size, shape, and color. His historical analysis addresses thorny questions about which qualities of a brand-name drug are considered private property and whether parts of a drug other than its active ingredients (e.g., pill color) can affect its clinical function.

Dr. Greene is Associate Professor, Elizabeth Treide and A. McGehee Harvey Chair in the History of Medicine at the Johns Hopkins University’s Institute for the History of Medicine. This event is sponsored by the History of Medicine Collections, the John W. Hartman Center for Sales, Advertising & Marketing History, and the Trent Center for Bioethics, Humanities & History of Medicine.

Author and Cancer Physician Siddhartha Mukherjee to Speak at Duke
When: Wed, Nov 28, 2012
Where: Page Auditorium


Pulitzer Prize-winning author and oncologist Siddhartha Mukherjee will discuss his book The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer at 6pm Wed, Nov 28 in Duke University’s Page Auditorium. The event is free and open to the public. Tickets are required and will be available through the Duke Box Office starting Nov 7. Visit for more information.

Mukherjee is a leading cancer physician and researcher at Columbia University. Ten years in the writing, The Emperor of All Maladies is a magnificent, profoundly humane “biography” of cancer — from its first documented appearances thousands of years ago to the epic battles of modern times to cure, control and conquer it. Mukherjee examines this shape-shifting and formidable disease with a cellular biologist’s precision, a historian’s perspective and a biographer’s passion. The book won the 2011 Pulitzer Prize for General Nonfiction and was named one of the 10 Best Books of 2010 by the New York Times.

Susan ReverbySusan Reverby, Ph.D. “Escaping Melodramas: Reflections on Telling the Histories of the Public Health Service’s Research in Tuskegee and Guatemala.”
When: Thurs, Nov 1, 2012
Where: Gothic Reading Room, Perkins Library

Susan M. Reverby is the Marion Butler McLean Professor in the History of Ideas and Professor of Women’s and Gender Studies at Wellesley College and an historian known for her work on the history of gender and race issues, ethics and health care.  This event is co-sponsored by the Sallie Bingham Center for Women’s History and Culture, Duke University Department of History and the Trent Center for Bioethics, Humanities, and the History of Medicine. A reception will follow the lecture.

2011-2012 Speaker Series Schedule

Sept 20, 2011 - UNC
Elizabeth Dreesen, M.D.
Associate Chief of Trauma Surgery & Assistant Professor of Surgery, Division of Trauma and Critical Care Surgery,
UNC Dept. of Surgery
Exploring the 19th Century Medical Record: Penmanship, Pictures and No ICD9 Codes
This lecture will be held from noon to 1pm. Lunch will be provided.

Oct 11, 2011 - Duke
Shauna Devine, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor and Managing Editor, Journal of the History of Medicine and Allied Sciences, Duke University
Science, Disease and Experimental Medicine: Gangrene and Erysipelas during the American Civil War, 1861-1865

Nov 15, 2011 - UNC
Linda Beeber, Ph.D., R.N., C.S.
Professor, UNC-Chapel Hill School of Nursing
WWI Nursing

Dec 6, 2011 - Duke, Medical Center Library, Room 102
Francis A. Neelon, M.D.
Associate Professor Emeritus, Duke University
Caleb Parry and the Brief Life of Parry’s Disease

Jan 17, 2012 - UNC
David Weber, M.D., M.P.H., M.H.A.
Professor of Medicine and Pediatrics, UNC School of Medicine, Professor of Epidemiology, Gillings School of Global Public Health,
Associate Director, UNC School of Medicine M.D./Ph.D. Program
Infectious Diseases in the Movies: Fact or Fiction

Feb 14, 2012 - Duke
P. Preston Reynolds, M.D., Ph.D., F.A.C.P.
Professor of Medicine, Division of General Medicine, Geriatrics and Palliative Care, Center for Biomedical Ethics and Humanities, University of Virginia
The Federal Government's Efforts to Racially Integrate Hospitals under Medicare, 1963-1967

Mar 27, 2012 - UNC
Stephen Pemberton, Ph.D.
Associate Professor, Federated Dept. of History, New Jersey Institute of Technology / Rutgers-Newark
Two Tales of Paradoxical Progress: How Hemophilia Became Manageable in the Twentieth Century (with Special Reference to Pioneering Medicine at UNC)

Apr 10, 2012 - Duke, Medical Center Library, Room 102
Edward C. Halperin, M.D., M.A., F.A.C.R.
Chief Executive Officer and Chancellor for Health Affairs
Professor of Radiation Oncology, Pediatrics, and History, New York Medical College
Provost for Biomedical Affairs Touro College and University
Slave Medicine and the Banality of Evil