Hidden voices and human stories

Participants at a Makers of Modern Biomedicine witness seminarA group headed by Society Member Tilli Tansey has received a Strategic Award from the Wellcome Trust to create a library of witness testimonies to recent events in biomedicine as part of the Makers of Modern Biomedicine project.

Following the success of their ‘witness seminars’, The History of Modern Biomedicine Research Group of Queen Mary University of London will hold further seminars and conduct interviews with key figures in biomedical research, focusing on five themes: clinical genetics; neuroscience; global health and infectious diseases; medical technologies; and ethics of research and practice.

Transcripts of these will be published in print and online, where they will be freely available to all, along with video and audio from selected interviews.

Tilli, Professor of the History of Modern Medical Sciences at Queen Mary University of London, said:

“In 1992 I arranged a lecture from a medical historian on the discovery of interferons. The lecturer had not met all the players in the story, but I knew many of them and invited them along. The ensuing discussion was lively and extremely informative.

“It occurred to me then that this was a good way to get behind the story.

“Scientific papers are very stylised. They don’t tell you how a discovery was made, or what went wrong – which is very important.

“Get people together and one person will challenge another’s account, getting behind the published paper. We find the hidden voices and the human stories.”

Witness seminars bring together individuals closely involved with significant discoveries to discuss their experiences as part of a panel.

Access the library of witness seminar and interview transcripts – all free to download.