Research Fellowships in Humanities and Social Science: people we've funded

2017

Dr Leah Astbury

University of Cambridge

Marriage, health and compatibility in early modern England    

This project will produce a history of marriage and health in early modern England. Marriage is an institution governed by legal and religious regulations and social norms. In post-Reformation England, marriage was increasingly regulated and gendered spousal roles were part of religious practice, perpetuated by the growing popularity of conduct manuals. A central obligation of marriage was to care for one another in sickness. This has underpinned histories of domestic medicine which reveal that the early modern family would actively diagnose and cure ailments. 

The goals of this project are to assess how good health defined a successful marriage in early modern England and investigate how the social norms and expectations of marriage changed. I will also interrogate how marital compatibility was measured and how illness would affect spouses and the household as a whole. 

This project aims to uncover how cultural expectations shaped the way early modern people wrote about marriage.

Dr James Carney

Brunel University London

Necessary fictions? Text and response in depression and anxiety    

The project will systematically examine the interaction between anxiety and depression and narrative fiction. This will be achieved using a three-strand, hybrid framework that blends digital, experimental and interpretive methods derived from computational linguistics, experimental psychology and literary studies. This will uncover how mood disorders are presented in narratives and culture generally.

The project will analyse the psychological impact of 50,000 texts from Project Gutenberg using machine learning. The results of doing this will be experimentally evaluated against subclinical populations, and evaluated against the experiences of present-day and historical readers using reader panels and reading history databases.

Theoretical outcomes of the project will involve a deepened understanding of the interaction between literature and mental illness. A practical outcome will be a database of texts that have been rated for therapeutic effect for the treatment of two common disorders that affect one in five people.

Dr Daisy Fancourt

University College London

Arts, society and public health: an exploration of the major UK cohort studies

We will explore the impact of arts and cultural engagement on health and wellbeing at a population level, using the outstanding longitudinal cohort data that has been collected in the UK. Research will examine the effects of cultural engagement and active and passive arts consumption on diagnosed mental health conditions, self-reported mental health and wellbeing, diagnosed physical health conditions, self-reported symptoms, physiological measures, cognitive measures and psychosocial measures. A key focus will be on how different populations, including people with varying ages, socioeconomic status, ethnicity and education, might be differently affected. 

To maximise the impact of this research, there will be a four-pronged engagement programme, including peer-reviewed papers and conference presentations, reports and meetings with stakeholders in public health, politics and commissioning to explore the implications for policy. There will also be a suite of activities to raise awareness of the effects of arts engagement. 

Dr Louise Hide

Birkbeck, University of London

Hiding in plain sight. Cultures of harm in residential institutions for long-term adult care, Britain 1945 to 1980s    

During the 1970s and early 1980s, 18 major investigations were conducted into abuse and neglect in long-stay psychiatric hospitals. These inquiries focused on administrative and management failures, and gave little attention to the underlying values and belief systems, such as attitudes to pain, suffering, institutionalisation and care, that gave rise to abusive practices, or to the language and behaviours that perpetuated them. 

I will return to the extensive documentation from two of these inquiries, together with other sources, to gain deeper insights into the underlying factors that gave rise to institutional abuse to help prevent it in the future. 

I will publish my findings and present workshops to inform current inquiries, policy makers, clinicians and social scientists with valuable historical context about abuse, while introducing a new strand of inquiry into historical scholarship. Engagement with the wider public is vital and I will contribute opinion pieces for the wider media and write at least one theatre or radio play.

Dr Dorcas Kamuya

KEMRI-Wellcome Trust Research Programme, Kenya

Examining stakeholder engagement about biobanking, and if and how the concept of social licence may be useful using the KEMRI-Wellcome Trust Research Programme (KWTRP) as a case study

Biobanks offer the potential to revolutionise healthcare, but remain in their infancy in low-and-middle income countries (LMICs), despite the number of laboratories in these settings. A huge scientific resource of 1.5 million biological specimens is held at the KEMRI-Wellcome Trust Research Programme (KWTRP) on the Kenyan coast. The programme intends to transform these samples into a functional biobank to support research aimed at improving public health. In a context where biobanking has the potential to evoke mistrust towards research, a prerequisite is broad buy-in from key stakeholders, including the local residents who donated most of the samples.

This research aims to examine the processes that should be followed to engage local communities when setting up a biobank. Methods will include in-depth interviews, focus group discussions and deliberative forms of engagement. In examining this complex ethical issue, I consider the concept of a ‘social licence’ and how it may be useful when framing the processes of engagement. 

The study will make an important contribution to local and national biobanking policy, and inform understanding of the ethical issues involved in developing policy for biobanking.

Dr Alice Mauger

University College Dublin

Alcohol, medicine and Irish society, 1890-1970    

There has been little consideration of medicine’s influence on attitudes towards and treatment of alcoholism in Ireland, in historical contexts. While the ‘drunken Irish’ stereotype, still prevalent today, has been assessed from several viewpoints, there has yet to be an investigation of how international and Irish medical communities interpreted, informed and/or absorbed this label. 

This project will explore medicine’s role in framing and treating alcohol abuse in Ireland from the 1890s, when there was state intervention in the form of short-lived inebriate reformatories, to the 1970s, when rising numbers of alcohol-related asylum admissions highlighted the need for dedicated rehabilitation facilities. Centring on asylums and inebriate reformatories, medical discourses and government policies surrounding treatment and health implications, this project will question how, why and to what extent medicine came to influence treatment, care and rehabilitation and whether the medical profession informed official and lay discourses. 

This study will employ historical methodologies to inform present-day social concerns.

2016

Dr Jenny Bangham

University of Cambridge

FlyBase: communicating Drosophila genetics on paper and online, 1970–2000

Dr Bangham is tracing the early history of ‘FlyBase’, an online genetic database that orders and communicates genetic information about the fruit fly Drosophila. 

Established in the early 1990s, FlyBase was one of the earliest model organism databases and remains an essential routine tool for the genetics community. Originally in the form of a newsletter, Drosophila Information Service, and book-format mutant catalogues, FlyBase was representative of the transformation of biology into the highly collaborative, data-intensive, richly funded science it is today. 

Its history contributes to our understanding of that transformation, and captures the rise of genomics, the emergence of Drosophila as a model for biomedical research, the early days of the internet, and the publication of the Drosophila melanogaster genome sequence in 2000. By exploring the politics, infrastructures and professional expertise produced by database technologies, Dr Bangham is investigating what difference these have made to biology and biomedicine.

Dr Oliver Bonnington

London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine

Resisting depression stigma: exploring complementarities and contradictions

Depression represents a significant and growing global public health issue, and so too does the stigma associated with it. Despite this, there is limited knowledge about effective strategies to combat stigma related to depression. 

The main aim of this three-year sociological study is to address this issue through three interlinked research components. These will seek to explore complex anti-stigma discourses and practices to provide evidence that will inform future strategies and concentrate resources. 

Dr Bonnington will use a heuristic technique of social scales that distinguishes between ‘global’, ‘national’ and ‘local’ practices. These ‘scales’ will provide a new way to explore how measures to combat stigma are enacted. Together, they will constitute a ‘multi-sited ethnography’ of resistance to stigma.

Dr Petros Bouras-Vallianatos

King's College London

Byzantine pharmacology between east and west (1150–1450)

The aim of this project is to place a large number of unexplored Byzantine pharmacological texts, dated from 1150 to 1450, into cultural and therapeutic context.  

Dr Bouras-Vallianatos will evaluate the degree of influence on Byzantine pharmacology from Arabic, Persian, and Latin pharmacological traditions. Overturning the view that Byzantine medical tradition was ‘stagnant’ and simply preserved the best ideas from antiquity, the project will demonstrate that Byzantine pharmacology was far more open to outside influence than previously thought. It will also demonstrate that Byzantine physicians were eager to inform their material with observations derived from their contact with patients. The work will provide a fresh set of data for comparative historical studies across the Mediterranean and near east and, ultimately, will offer a starting point for the evaluation of Byzantine pharmacology by contemporary health professionals.

Dr Peter Eibich

Nuffield Department of Population Health, University of Oxford

The demand for prevention in middle and later life

Population ageing is likely to increase the burden of non-communicable diseases, such as cancer. Prevention, including health behaviour and screening programmes, can considerably reduce the morbidity and mortality risks of these diseases.

This project will investigate the theoretical and empirical demand for prevention among middle-aged and older people. 

Dr Stephanie Prady

University of York

Understanding the relationship between mental health interventions, the social determinants of health and health inequalities

One third of the UK’s population will experience a common mental disorder (CMD) such as anxiety or depression in their lifetime. People who are socio-economically disadvantaged are more likely to have a CMD, less likely to have their disorder recognised by the health service and less likely to benefit from treatment. 

Dr Prady will investigate the impact of interventions on mental health inequalities in the UK. Using population data from Humberside, there will be three stages to the work: a synthesis of theory and evidence around how social characteristics influence CMD and drive mental health inequalities; a check of these findings in a range of contemporary datasets; and the compilation of what is known about the effects of health, social or policy interventions on CMD and social characteristics. Project outputs will include a predictive toolkit on the mental health and social effects of different interventions.

Dr Jonathan Pugh

Oxford Uehiro Centre for Practical Ethics, University of Oxford

The ethics of deep brain stimulation

Deep brain stimulation (DBS) is a potentially promising new therapy, yet it raises issues relating to core values in medical ethics, such as wellbeing, autonomy and authenticity. 

This project will investigate the moral constraints that should guide and limit novel therapeutic applications of DBS. Key aims include developing policy recommendations and ethical guidelines, and clarifying the ethical and legal significance of consent and competence in the context of carrying out experimental DBS.

Dr Benedict Rumbold

University College London

Patient and public involvement in priority setting: should we listen to the will of the people?

Decision makers tasked with allocating resources within health systems can face huge pressure about funding decisions from patients and the public. The aim of this project is to provide a detailed philosophical analysis of how far decision makers ought to respond to attempts by patient and public interest groups to influence priority-setting decisions.

Dr Rumbold will use an ‘empirical ethics’ approach, combining both philosophical analysis and qualitative research. two-fold: to give an ethical analysis of the moral obligations of priority setters to respond to lobbying by patients and the public on healthcare resources allocation; to give concrete, practical advice to decision makers on how they should respond to lobbying in future.  

Dr Lucy Series

Cardiff University

Empowering whom? The Mental Capacity Act 2005 and the problem of empowerment

The Mental Capacity Act 2005 (MCA) provides a legal framework for making 'best interests' decisions on behalf of adults who lack ‘mental capacity’ because of mental disabilities like dementia or learning disabilities. The Act is widely celebrated as ‘empowering’. However, its empowering credentials are increasingly contested. 

This project will enhance understanding of the nature of the problems with the MCA by tracing how the evolving concept of 'empowerment' has shaped both the Act and subsequent critiques. Drawing from academic literature, consultation materials and interviews with key figures, the project will explore the history of the MCA over three decades, from its inception and implementation to present day controversies. 

Dr Peter Singer

Birkbeck, University of London

The Pulse in Galen

The aims of this project are an analysis of Galen's conception of the pulse, and the first English translation of two of Galen’s key texts. 

Dr Singer's research will be based on four major treatises – The Different Types of Pulse, Causes of Pulses, Distinction between Pulses and Prognosis by the Pulse. The latter two, diagnosis and prognosis, have the greatest relevance to clinical practice and the major outcome will be a translation of these two texts, with substantial introduction and explanatory commentary. 

This translation and analysis will contribute to our understanding of Galen's medical system and clinical practice. It will also shed further light on ancient conceptions of the interaction of mental and physical health, as well as on ancient medical textbooks and paedagogics.  

Dr Douglas Small

University of Glasgow

Cocaine and cultural mythology, 1860–1919

Dr Small will produce the first significant study of cocaine in the cultural imagination of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. When, in 1884, it was discovered that cocaine could be used as an effective local anaesthetic, the drug captured both medical and popular imagination. Medical writers, authors and journalists alike celebrated cocaine as the culmination of nineteenth-century therapeutic technology. The drug therefore represents a point of contact between medical and non-medical spheres, at a time when the two were becoming increasingly delineated.

This study focuses on literary representations of cocaine to establish the cultural and symbolic function of the drug in representations of, among others, the medical professional, medical technological innovation, and the gendered relationships between patients and practitioners.

Dr Raluca Soreanu

Birkbeck, University of London

'Balint groups' and the patient-doctor relationship: the social history of a psychoanalytic contribution to the medical sciences

Dr Soreanu will study the emergence of ‘Balint groups’, initiated by the medically trained psychoanalyst Michael Balint in the 1950s. In the groups, psychoanalysts engaged with medical doctors to discuss their difficulties with their patients. This encounter has unexplored consequences for the understanding of illness and the formation of the medical profession. This project poses two key questions: How can we understand this complex psychoanalysis-medicine conversation, and what does this case have to say about what psychoanalysis can offer medicine with respect to making sense of illness?

The project examines Balint’s relational conception of illness and his place in the Budapest School of psychoanalysis, the boundary-work between psychoanalysis and medicine, and the non-hierarchical modes of relationality in Balint groups. 

Dr Anna Toropova

University of Nottingham

Cinema and medicine in early Soviet Russia, 1917–1936

The entanglement of medicine and cinema in early Soviet Russia sheds a unique light on the ways in which visual culture has helped to define conceptions of life, health and disease. Exploring the role of film in the early Soviet campaign for healthy habits and behaviours, this project examines three sites at which medical knowledge, cinematic technology and revolutionary agendas of psycho-physiological transformation intersected – the health enlightenment film, medical research on film spectatorship, and film psychotherapy. 

Dr Toropova seeks to show how the medical films released onto the Soviet screen in the 1920s articulated new models of healthy living and structured a biomedical way of seeing. 

Dr Heather Wardle

London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine

Technological change and the health and wellbeing of youth: a case study of gambling

Britain has one of the most diverse and accessible gambling environments in the world, and one of the most developed digital landscapes in Europe. Over 1 million adults are at risk of harm from their gambling, with young people being at greatest risk. 

In this project, Dr Wardle will explore the impact of digital culture and increased gambling provision upon the health and wellbeing of young people. Using qualitative and quantitative longitudinal methods, secondary analysis and case studies of industry practice, this project will investigate changes in the relationship between youth gambling behaviour and the use of digital technology. It will explore how young people’s perceptions of, and engagement with, gambling are shaped, focusing on the role of digital technologies and digital engagement as determinants of gambling initiation and behaviour change. 

Dr Sophie Wickham

University of Liverpool

The impact of policies that aim to reduce child poverty on child and maternal mental health and health inequalities

UK child and maternal mental health is poor, with large inequalities between socioeconomic groups. High child poverty rates are a key factor, but there is limited evidence for how welfare policy changes targeting child poverty affect child and maternal mental health. 

This project will investigate the effect of changes to the tax credit system on child and maternal mental health from 2000 to 2016. Its goals include measuring the influence of policy on the level, eligibility, and uptake of tax credits across social groups over time, and using modern statistical methods for analysing large longitudinal datasets to investigate causal effects of policy changes on mothers and children. 

The research will engage with academics, policy makers and organisations working with low-income families to maximise its impact.

Dr Sarah Wilkes

University College London

Material anxieties: the perceived health of materials in medical products

Dr Wilkes will study the trajectories of materials that make up clinical and direct-to-consumer healthcare products,  like stainless steel, silicone rubber and PVC, as they move from manufacturing to the marketplace. She will explore their perceived risks and rewards, and how they influence users’ experiences of health and wellbeing. 

By combining ethnography, design research and psychophysics, this study will have a simultaneous focus on the physical, sensory, aesthetic and cultural affordances of materials. It will bring together materials producers, designers, clinicians and users to encourage dialogue and enable translation between isolated disciplinary and professional communities. The aim of the study is to take steps towards the identification and development of materials that meet clinical and societal needs.

2015

Dr Kevin Bardosh

Institute of Development Studies

Pandemic prediction: the biopolitics of One Health surveillance in viral hotspots

Dr Fabrizio Bigotti

University of Exeter

Santorio Santorio and the emergence of quantifying procedures in medicine at the end of the Renaissance: problems, context, ideas

Dr Boyd Brogan

University of Cambridge

Maladies of seed: chastity diseases in early modern England

Dr Sarah Bull

University of Cambridge

Medical publishers, obscenity law, and the business of sexual knowledge in Victorian Britain

Dr Elizabeth Hunter

Queen Mary, University of London

Midnight vapours: sleep disorders in early modern England, 1550–1700

Dr Laura Kelly

University of Strathclyde

Contraception and modern Ireland, 1922–92

Dr Adrianna Murphy

London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine

Measuring the impact of cardiovascular disease costs on equity and impoverishment: towards a standard method in low-income countries

Dr Jesse Olszynko-Gryn

University of Cambridge

Pregnancy testing over the counter, in activism, and at home: Britain, 1970–2015

Dr Rachel Pechey

University of Cambridge

Environmental cues for healthier vs. less healthy options: effectiveness at changing diet-related behaviour and reducing socioeconomic inequalities

Dr David Reubi

King's College London

Translating non-communicable disease interventions for African contexts: a socio-cultural study of the Bloomberg and Gates initiative to reduce tobacco use in Kenya and Burkina Faso

Dr Alanna Skuse

University of Reading

It is no small presumption to dismember the image of God: selfhood and the altered body, 1600–1745

Dr Claire Thompson

London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine

Understanding the health and wellbeing challenges of UK food poverty and food aid: a qualitative study

Dr Chiara Thumiger

University of Warwick

Ancient histories of phrenitis

Dr Alun Withey

University of Exeter

Do beards matter? Facial hair, health, medicine and masculinity in Britain, 1700–2014

2014

Dr Delia Boccia

London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine

Changing the agenda of tuberculosis control: the impact of social protection on tuberculosis prevention, care and support

Dr Jennifer Gamlin

University College London

Structural vulnerabilities and maternal health among Mexican indigenous populations

Dr Susanna Graham

University of Cambridge

The perceptions, experiences and future expectations of sperm donors: a comparison between men donating sperm through a licenced sperm bank and an unregulated website

Dr Eureka Henrich

University of Leicester

Healthy citizens? Migrant identity and constructions of health in post-war Australia

Dr Theresia Hofer

University of Oxford

Tibetan sign language and deaf identities in the making: signing, embodiment, and the lives of deaf people in the Tibet Autonomous Region, China

Dr Grigory Kessel

University of Manchester

The 'Syriac Epidemics' – reception and transmission of classical medicine in the East

Dr Diana Luft

University of Wales

Medieval Welsh medicine: a new approach

Dr Ayesha Nathoo

University of Exeter

Cultivating relaxation in twentieth century Britain

Dr Joshua Shepherd

University of Oxford

The ethical significance of consciousness for bioethics

Dr Kathleen Vongsathorn

University of Warwick

Women and the spread and adaptation of biomedical knowledge in Uganda, 1897–1979

Dr Tom Widger

University of Sussex

Pesticides and global health: an ethnographic study of agrochemical lives

2013

Dr Nandini Bhattacharya

University of Dundee

A coming of age story: a history of the Indian pharmaceutical industry, 1905–1966

Dr Angela Cassidy

King's College London

Managing bovine TB in the UK: a disease at the intersections of the 'human', 'owned' and 'wild'

Dr Bonnie Evans

Queen Mary, University of London

Neuroscience, psychology and education: autism in the UK 1959–2014

Dr Katherine Foxhall

University of Leicester

Envisioning migraine and the 'migraine', 1873–2004

Dr Clare Griffin

University of Cambridge

The role of the state in the global drug trade: the case of early modern Russia

Dr Katherine Harvey

Birkbeck, University of London

Medicine and the bishop in Medieval England, 1100–1400

Dr Delia Hedesan

University of Oxford

The pursuit of universal medicine: alchemical prolongation of life and christianity in seventeenth century paracelsian and helmontian thought

Dr Mark Honigsbaum

Queen Mary, University of London

Twentieth century disease ecologies: an intellectual history of emergence, 1920–1970

Dr Christine Knight

University of Edinburgh

Stalking the deep-fried Mars Bar: the history of the Scottish diet stereotype

Dr Chris Millard

Queen Mary, University of London

Illness and the social setting: Munchausen Syndromes and modern medicine (1951–present)

Dr Ian Miller

University of Ulster

Medicine, ethics and hunger strike management in the British Isles, 1909–81

Dr Beatriz Pichel

De Montford University

The emotional body: medical and theatrical practices in France

Dr Olivia Smith

University of Oxford

Natural life: biography, medicine and science in early modern England

Dr Sridhar Venkatapuram

King's College London

Capabilities theory and global population-level bioethics

Dr Gabriella Zuccolin

University of Cambridge

Women's medicine between script and print, 1450–1600

2012

Dr Roderick Bailey

University of Oxford

Psychology and the special operations executive, 1940–46: the selection of clandestine operatives and the treatment of survivors

Dr Nicole Desmond

Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine

The social impact of HIV self-testing: reconstructing knowledge and re-framing risks associated with HIV prevention

Dr Clare Hickman

King's College London

The garden as a laboratory

Dr Ruth Horn

University of Oxford

Between patient autonomy and physicians responsibility to save life: the implementation of advance directives in three European countries (England, France and Germany)

Dr Richard McKay

University of Cambridge

Before HIV: homosex and venereal disease, 1939–1984

Dr Irina Metzler

Swansea University

Cognitive impairment in the middle ages: uncovering medical and cultural aspects of intellectual disabilities according to medieval normative texts

Dr Valentina Pugliano

University of Cambridge

Nature's old archipelagos: medicine, science, and environment in the Venetian Levant, 1450–1750

Dr Uwe Vagelpohl

University of Warwick

Galen's commentary on the Hippocratic Epidemics, Book 6: an edition and translation of the extant Arabic translation

Dr Niki Vermeulen

University of Edinburgh

The emergence of systems biology

Dr Tania Anne Woloshyn

University of Warwick

Soaking up the rays: the reception of light therapeutics in Britain, 1899–1938

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