Prof Carsten Timmermann MSc, MA, PhD

Professor of History of Science, Technology & Medicine

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While studying for my first degree in Biochemistry at the Freie Universität Berlin, I took a succession of history courses in addition to my compulsory units in the sciences. Wondering how I could possibly combine my interests in science and history, I accidentally came across the History of Science, Technology and Medicine (HSTM), which was then rarely taught at German universities. After graduating, I was offered a job as a research technician at the Scripps Research Institute and spent two years in La Jolla, California, doing high resolution cryo electron microscopy. While there, I audited several course units in the Science Studies Programme at University of California, San Diego (I now realise that I probably gate crashed the programme). I then enrolled for an MA in History and Social Anthropology of Science, Technology and Medicine at the University of Manchester (supported by a Wellcome Trust Studentship) and in 1999 completed a PhD, also at the University of Manchester, on Weimar Medical Culture: Doctors, Healers and the 'Crisis of Medicine' in Interwar Germany (again supported by a Wellcome Trust Studentship).

Since 1999, I have worked at the Centre for the History of Science, Technology and Medicine, initially as a research fellow and later a Lecturer, Senior Lecturer and Professor. In January 2022 I was appointed Director of the Centre.

I have been a frequent visitor, sometimes for longer periods, at the Max Planck Institute for History of Science in Berlin and have collaborated closely with colleagues in continental Europe, the United States and Canada.

Since 2000 I have taught a variety of course units in history of medicine, history of the life sciences, and history of psychiatry and mental health. I have also taught course units dealing with the historiography of science, technology and medicine for undergraduate and postgraduate students.

I currently supervise the following PhD students:

  • Leah De Quattro (with Drs Sarah Collins and Cinzia Greco, and Professor Vicky Singleton)
  • Iain Sturges (with Dr Robert Kirk)
  • Michaela Clark (with Dr Kostas Arvanitis)
  • Eleanor Shaw (with Dr Stephanie Snow)

Past PhD students:

  • Dr Nicola Sugden
  • Dr Linnea Kuglitsch
  • Dr Katherine Hiepko
  • Dr Andrew Black
  • Dr Ellen van Reuler

I am the Academic Lead for the University's Museum of Medicine and Health.

In 2015 Dr Elizabeth Toon and I founded the Medical Humanities Laboratory to create a virtual home for interdisciplinary activities around health and medicine.

Jointly with Professor Mick Worboys, I edit the Palgrave book series Medicine and Biomedical Sciences in Modern History.

I am a member of the Editorial Boards of the Bulletin of the John Rylands Library, Notes & Records: The Royal Society Journal of the History of Science, and Social History of Medicine. In 2023 I will be joining the Editorial Board of the Bulletin of the History of Medicine and the Editorial Committee of Manchester University Press.

I am also a member of the Steering Committee of the John Rylands Research Institute and an elected member of the FBMH Faculty Committee.

I was Co-Director of the MSc in Medical Humanities until 2020 (with Dr Sarah Collins).

I was Chair of the Executive Committee of the Society for Social History of Medicine from 2015 to 2018, and Treasurer from 2004 to 2015.

Recent book [open access]: Moonshots at Cancer: The Roche Story

Also check out: A History of Lung Cancer: The Recalcitrant Disease
Reviewed in: British Journal for the History of Science, Bulletin of the History of Medicine, Isis, Lancet Oncology, Social History of Medicine, Sociology of Health and Illness, Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences

Areas of expertise

  • D204 Modern History - History of Medicine, History of Science, Cancer, Psychiatry, Chronic Disease, Biology, Biomedical Research, Risk Factors, Lung Cancer, Hypertension
  • DD Germany - History of Medicine, Biomedical Research, Crisis of Medicine, Weimar Republic, GDR
  • D839 Post-war History, 1945 on - History of Medicine, Cancer, Biomedical Research, Lung Cancer, Pharmaceutical Research
  • H Social Sciences (General) - Science and Society, Science and Technology Studies, Social Studies of Science, Technology and Medicine

Biology, Medicine and Health (BMH) Domains


  • History of Medicine, History of Cancer, Lung Cancer, History of Science, Science and Technology Studies Studies, STS, STM

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